SALT LAKE CITY — A statue of television inventor Philo T. Farnsworth might be on its way out of the U.S. Capitol, while Martha Hughes Cannon, the first woman elected to a state legislature, could be on her way in.
A Utah Senate panel endorsed a resolution Wednesday to replace Farnsworth with Hughes in National Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C., where each state is allowed to display two notable people in their histories. The other Utah statue is of Brigham Young.
"I don’t see this as an anti-Philo Farnsworth bill in any way. He’s had his three decades of fame," said Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, sponsor of SCR1. He said there's nothing that precludes a state from changing statues.
A school class in the 1980s petitioned the Utah Legislature to place Farnsworth in the hall after it discovered the state only had one statue at the time.
Weiler said Cannon has an incredible story.
A polygamous wife, doctor, women's rights advocate and suffragist, the Welsh immigrant was the first woman elected to a state senate in the United States, defeating her own husband for the seat in 1896.
"She really puts the best foot forward for Utah," Weiler said.
Salt Lake resident George Chapman opposed the resolution, saying Farnsworth developed something that changed the lives of everyone in the country. He said Farnsworth inspired him to become a scientist, and the statue is an impetus for children to pursue science and engineering.
"I don’t think we need more statutes of politicians," he told the committee.
To say Cannon was a politician misses the point, said Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley City. Cannon was much more than that, he said.
"I believe that Martha will inspire everyone," Thatcher said, adding her story would change people's lives, especially helping girls to grow up thinking they can change the world.
Sen. Lyle Hillard, R-Logan, was the lone dissenter in the 3-1 vote on the resolution in the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee. He was a member of the Senate when the Legislature approved the Farnsworth statue.
"I think we've done it and we just ought to move on," he said.
The measure now moves to the Senate floor for consideration.