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Subject CategoriesGovernment / Politics
First woman mayor of St. Albans City, Vermont. Elected March 4,1980. Six days later, murdered by Mr. Jurva, a handyman for the family.
Date of Birth09/23/1913
Date of Death03/10/1980
Primary ResidenceSt. Albans
On March 4, 1980, Janet Smith, Republican Alderman of Ward 1 in St. Albans, became the first woman mayor of St. Albans City, with the votes running 1,175 to 1,041 in her favor. Smith was sworn in on March 10, 1980.
On Sunday, March 16,1980, after having just moved into her office and begun to take on the responsibilities of her position, Mayor Smith was shot at her home. She received injuries to her right side and head. Smith was taken to the Kerbs Unit of the Northwestern Medical Center. Later that day, police arrested Tauno Jurva, 61, for the shooting. Mr. Jurva worked for the Smith family as a handyman and caretaker for Mr. Smith.
Jurva lived with the family on Congress Street. People had heard shots and Mayor Smith crying out from her upstairs window. When police came to the house, they found her husband, Gregory Smith, 91, on the floor at her side. Mayor Smith had the courage to write a note. The note said "Tauna Jurva shot me once in the stomach and once in the head. " Smith died the next day from her injuries. Jurva was charged with murder. Police found a 22 caliber revolver in Jurva's car. Questions still remain as to why Jurva shot Mayor Smith. There are many theories. Jurva went to trial and eventually to prison.
Mayor Smith had a son, Jim Lang Jr. of Boston, and a daughter, Janet Manning of Fairfax. Other family members included stepchildren, a brother, two sisters, five grandchildren, and many more.
As a quote from the St. Albans Messenger reads "Janet Smith did prove a few things to us. Her election shelved the notion that a woman could not gain our trust for the city's highest elective office. Her candidacy, while based in one of our more affluent neighborhoods, gained the support of voters across the spectrum of economic and social standing. And she may have breathed some new life into the home crowd of the Republican Party." It also stated, "Janet Smith deserves to be remembered as a person with the gumption to be our first woman mayor, an achievement made even more prestigious by the fact that she was a Republican mayor in a heavily Democratic populated city."
- Mayor of St.Albans (sworn in March 10, 1980)