There is a local woman whom I have been blessed to know for decades. To me, she is the ultimate model of how women can make a healthy positive difference. Though recently retired, Lynn Woolsey has been our beloved Congresswoman from the 6th District in Northern California for a very long time. Her district included all of Marin and most of Sonoma Counties. As Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Congresswoman Woolsey had been a vocal and visible leader on progressive issues, particularly those dealing with children and families.
We first met Lynn Woolsey when our daughters were young. Shauna volunteered to make calls in a local election, dragging her younger sister along. Through this experience, they ended up volunteering for Lynn Woolsey. We began to attend her fundraisers, which were very unpretentious, often held in our local granaries or breweries in Petaluma, CA. We also have attended birthday gatherings held at her old Victorian home. We have enjoyed meeting her large family, of which she is clearly the proud matriarch.
A passionate and outspoken opponent of the Iraqi war, she has helped move public opinion against President Bush’s failed Iraqi policy. She introduced the first resolution calling for our troops to be brought home and convened the first congressional hearing on military exit strategies, introducing H.R. 508, known as the ‘Bring Our Troops Home and Sovereignty of Iraq Restoration Act.’ The San Jose Mercury News called her “the unofficial matriarch of the [anti-war] movement in Congress.”
Since her appointment in 1993, Congresswoman Woolsey has used her seat on the Committee on Education and Labor to provide children and families the tools they need to realize the American Dream. She has been an advocate of special education and vocational education, fighting against job discrimination in Head Start and other federal programs. Congresswoman Woolsey also authored a ‘School Breakfast Pilot Program’ that was signed into law by President Clinton.
During her time in Congress, one of Congresswoman Woolsey’s top priorities has been a legislative package called ‘The Balancing Act’ which aims to help parents manage the challenge of the balance between work and family. Among the ‘Balancing Act’ provisions are paid family leave, public universal preschool, major investments in child care, universal school breakfast, benefits for part-time workers, and telecommuting incentives.
Having raised her family in California’s North Bay and lived here for over 40 years, Congresswoman Woolsey understands the concerns and reflects the values of Sonoma and Marin County residents. She frequently said they are the most important voice she listens to. And she not only listens, she responds. Her Washington office alone receives and answers over three thousand letters, phone calls, and emails from constituents each week.
Congresswoman Woolsey’s dedication to family issues and her belief in a strong social safety net are rooted in her personal history. As a young single mother struggling to raise three children by herself, she needed public assistance just to make ends meet, even though fully employed. This experience has helped to shape her commitment to family-friendly policies.
Lynn Woolsey fought the good fight in Washington, completing her 10th term since 1992, representing our quirky northern California population in Congress. Lynn has stood proud for our west coast values and we honor her for it.
Thank you, Dear Lynn, for carrying our concerns back and forth to Congress, week after week. Thank you for representing us so clearly. Bless you, Lynn, a beautiful example of women in leadership!