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PAWTUCKETâ€”She was the city's own version of Geraldine Ferraro. Kathleen A. Magill, the first woman to hold a City Council seat and the first to run for mayor, passed away on Wednesday after a brief illness. She was 69.
Magill, a married mother of three, made history in 1979 when she became the first woman elected to the Pawtucket City Council. She won a city-wide, at-large council seat and served for eight years.
Magill was regarded as a trailblazer again when she ran for mayor in Pawtucket in 1987. She prevailed in a three-way, non-partisan mayoral primary that also included Councilor Thomas Hodge and Brian Sarault. However, in the Nov. 3, 1987 general election, Magill lost to Sarault, garnering 7,038 votes to his 11,949.
Magill's husband, retired Pawtucket Firefighter Thomas Magill, recalled that in 1984, Magill campaigned to participate in the Rhode Island Democratic Convention that featured presidential candidate Walter Mondale and vice-presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro. â€śShe was the highest vote-getter of anyone in the state,â€ť he said. â€śShe was very popular.â€ť
Magill, who ran for mayor twice himself, said he didn't quite know where his wife had â€śgotten the political bug from,â€ť but said she was known for her dedicated and conscientious service to the City Council during her tenure.
â€śShe was a very busy lady,â€ť noted Magill. He joked that the couple's son and two daughters often had to be â€ślatchkey kidsâ€ťâ€” making their own sandwiches and looking after themselves â€” during campaign seasons, but said they always admired their mother and her contributions in the political arena. â€śBut, they came out unscathed. We all knew how important it was to her,â€ť he added.
Magill was born and raised in Providence, but Pawtucket was her home for 45 years. It was in this city that she raised her family and focused her professional life.
Magill was also a member of the Pawtucket Second Ward Committee from 1979 until the time of her passing. Additionally, she was a founding member of the Pawtucket St. Patrick's Day Committee and served in many roles for 29 years.
From 1988 through 2007, Magill worked for the state, first in the Office of Attorney General and later in the Joint Committee on Legislative Services, where she retired. Most recently, she was an active member of the city's Purchasing Board and was previously on the city's Planning and Redevelopment Agency.
Besides her husband, Magill is survived by a son, two daughters, and seven granndchildren. Her funeral will be held on Saturday, April 5 at 9 a.m.