The remarkable life of Sonoma County newsman and 'blind senator' Herbert Slater

The "Follow This Story" feature will notify you when any articles related to this story are posted.

When you follow a story, the next time a related article is published — it could be days, weeks or months — you'll receive an email informing you of the update.

If you no longer want to follow a story, click the "Unfollow" link on that story. There's also an "Unfollow" link in every email notification we send you.

This tool is available only to subscribers; please make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

Please note: This feature is available only to subscribers; make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.


On Nov. 8, 1910, newspaperman Herbert Slater was elected to serve the 14th Assembly District in California beginning a 37-year stint in the state legislature all while writing for The Press Democrat.

Slater began his journalism career covering the plant experiments of horticulturist Luther Burbank. In the early 1900s he wrote a story about a $5,000 commission Burbank received to create a hybrid tea rose, a jaw-dropping sum for the times. The story was picked up by the San Francisco Examiner and papers throughout the nation boosting the careers of both the plant scientist and newsman.

In 1910 when he was elected to the state assembly, Slater was a regular part of The Press Democrat news team covering everything from Burbank and politics to fish and game.

Though modern-day ethics policies forbid the paper’s journalists from holding public office, Slater never stopped writing for the paper, even while he served for decades in in the state Legislature, four in the Assembly and 33 in the Senate.

In 1919, a freak accident took Slater’s sight, earning him the nickname the “blind senator.”

It is said that Slater could recognize visitors by their footsteps as they approached his newsroom desk, which also served as his district office.

On Aug. 13, 1947, Slater died of a heart attack while en route to his office in Santa Rosa.

Click through our gallery above to take a look at the life and times of Herbert Slater.

Please read our commenting policy
  • No profanity, abuse, racism or hate speech
  • No personal attacks on other commenters
  • No spam or off-topic posts
  • Comments including URLs and media may be held for moderation
Send a letter to the editor
*** The system is currently unable to accept new posts (we're working on it) ***

Our Network

Sonoma Index-Tribune
Petaluma Argus Courier
North Bay Business Journal
Sonoma Magazine
Bite Club Eats
La Prensa Sonoma
Emerald Report
Spirited Magazine