Since today is election day and Petaluma will be electing city representatives, my thoughts went back to a former mayor of Our River Town.


Most of the LWF Petalumans that we have blogged about have died long before most Petalumans of today were born. Helen Putnam, however, is one who many current residents remember quite well and loved. She died on July 2, 1984 after a political career that spanned 38 years. She was a mother, school teacher, mayor and county supervisor and greatly involved with the community as a member of many boards and commissions.


Helen grew up in Alameda, attended the University of California at Berkeley where she earned her teaching credential, and came to Petaluma in 1931 where she taught junior high school students. Later she also served as a principal at the Two Rock Union Elementary School. In addition to being Petaluma’s first woman mayor for four terms, she was also the first woman president of the League of California Citizens. Over the years, Helen was involved with the following list of commissions and boards:


President, California School Association

President, Sonoma County Mayors’ and Councilmen’s Association

Member, Sonoma County School Trustees Association

Member, Petaluma Planning Commission

Advisory Board, California Congress of Parents and Teachers

State Advisory Council on Bicentennial Celebration

Association of Bay Area Governments

Director, Golden Gate Bridge and Transportation District

Advisory Board, Sonoma State University


Many of the people she interacted with in these public service groups had been at one time her students. Putnam Plaza was named in her honor, as well as the Helen Putnam Regional Park in 1985. During her term as mayor in 1922, the Petaluma City Council set a limit on the number of housing units that could be built. Over a five year period, no more than 500 units could be built yearly. The citizens of Petaluma approved that plan in June, 1973, by a margin of four to one.


Lest we forget this wonderful Petaluma citizen who made such an impact on “Our River Town.”

(Visited 402 times, 1 visits today)