Helen Garofalo: Political Powerhouse of Stark County
The 1970s was a pivotal time for women. The feminist movement of the 60s and 70s (also called second wave feminism) was in full bloom, and women’s liberation was one of the hottest topics people were talking about. Among everything happening across the country, Helen Garofalo was making her own waves right here in Stark County, Ohio.
Helen is and has always been an incredibly smart person. She graduated valedictorian in high school and was first in line to receive a large scholarship for college. However, it was a different time then and Helen’s father (like many) didn’t believe that women should go to college. She ended up passing down the scholarship and it ended up going to the salutatorian—ironically, a male student.
A Big Win for Helen
Helen Garofalo ran against Jim Freeman and was elected Clerk of Courts in 1979—a great feat for women everywhere. Up until that time, no other woman had held office in Stark County and many still believed that women did not belong in politics. But Helen proved quite the opposite, working her way up from doing intro-level clerical work at the Clerk of Courts Office right out of high school for just $90 a month!
Helen’s Pledge (pictured left): “I shall fulfill all duties, perform all services and handle all public monies with efficiency and accountability. I shall never use the office as a stepping-stone for other political ambitions, nor will I abuse its employees.”
A Mother of Five
Amidst her political duties, Helen managed to raise five beautiful children—two sons and three daughters. It’s no surprise that they’re all very intelligent and hard working people, three of them nurses and two engineers. They take after their mom! Helen is now a grandmother to fourteen grandchildren and has lots of pictures of all of them displayed in her room at The Inn at Belden Village.
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