Women in Politics



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Flyer for Maureen O'Connor's 1971 City Council campaignScroll down to access oral history interviews with San Diego women in politics, or click the name of the individual.

  • Bradley, Madge: San Diego's first female judge.
  • Castro, Margaret: Participated in the 1972 Democratic Convention and was friends with feminist leaders Shirley Chisholm and Bella Abzug.
  • Farmer, Velma: President of the San Diego County Federation of Republican Women.
  • Green, Ruth: African-American Republican candidate for the 79th Assembly District for the State of California in the November 1972 elections.
  • Heinzmann, Janice: First female mayor of Del Mar.
  • O'Connor, Maureen: First female mayor of San Diego and former San Diego City Councilmember.
  • Stone, Anna: First female Executive Board Member of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council.

View more images below.

Image credit: Flyer for Maureen O'Connor's 1971 City Council campaign, Special Collections & University Archives.

Madge Bradley:

Madge Bradley was the first female judge in San Diego County. She was born in Ukiah, California on November 14, 1904, the second of five children whose parents were grape farmers. Bradley passed the California bar exam in 1933, but did not practice law until 1940 due to the Great Depression. During her career she blazed a number of trails, including being the first woman on the Board of Directors of the San Diego County Bar Association, the first San Diego County woman to be appointed to a State Bar Committee, the first woman in San Diego to serve as a judge, and the first woman to preside over San Diego's Municipal Court. She retired in late 1971 and died in 2000. The Madge Bradley building of the San Diego County Superior Court is named in her honor.

In this interview totalling approximately 79 minutes, Bradley discusses many aspects of her background, life, and career. She talks about her family background, the many legal positions she's held (including her private practice), and the current state of the legal system. Bradley also offers her thoughts on Ronald Reagan, who was Governor at the time, and speaks of her interests since retirement. In general, Bradley tends to downplay the prejudice she faced as a woman in her position. Rather, she maintains that temperament and intuition are more important to the practice of law, rather than whether someone is male or female.

Interviewed by Lois Marriott on audio cassette on 12/21/1972.

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Margaret Castro:


Margaret Castro was a Chicana who was active with the National Women's Political Caucus and the 1972 Democratic Convention. In this interview totalling 1 hour and 21 minutes, she discusses topics such as leaders in the women's movement, women in sports, Chicana participation in politics, the committees of the National Women's Political Caucus, abortion, and the rivalry between caucuses and delegations and political leaders. Of particular note are Castro's first-hand accounts of various experiences she had with feminist leaders such as Bella Abzug, Shirley Chisholm, and Gloria Steinem.

Interviewed by Susan Koester on audio cassette on 11/28/1973.

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Velma Farmer:


At the time of this interview, Velma Farmer was the President of the San Diego County Federation of Republican Women, an organization which included 42 clubs and 5,500 members total. She was also the former President of the Chula Vista Republican Club. In this interview totalling approximately 27 minutes, Farmer discusses a sense of moral responsibility for the United States that she inherited from her father, to try to get the U.S. "back on an even keel." She strongly believes that women would be the ones to get this country back on track because they have the time to volunteer. She expresses disdain for the women's liberation movement, particularly from a Biblical perspective, although she does believe in equal pay for equal work. Farmer also discusses political figures such as Ronald Reagan, James Roosevelt, George McGovern, and Teddy Kennedy, as well as the Watergate scandal.

Interviewed by Richard H. Glass on audio cassette on 5/15/1973.

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Ruth Green:


Ruth Green was an unsuccessful candidate for the 79th District of the California State Assembly, running as a Republican against incumbent Pete Chacon in November 1972. The 79th District at the time was heavily Democratic and had more blue-collar workers and minorities than any other district in San Diego County. At the time of this interview, Green was a social worker serving as the Assistant Director for San Diego Leased Housing. Her former employers were the Department of Public Welfare and the San Diego County Probation Department. Green received her bachelor's degree from Langston University and completed graduate work at the University of Chicago and San Diego State University.

In this interview totalling 1 hour and 12 minutes, Green discusses her campaign in depth, particularly its weaknesses. She also shares her thoughts about her opponent, Chacon, and why he didn't represent the district. Green further talks about her feelings about the women's liberation movement, stating that she believed women deserved equal opportunities for employment, but disagreed with the movement's tactics. She also mentions the difference in attitudes she observes between black women and white women.

Interviewed by Lois Marriott on audio cassette on 1/16/1973. For photos of Green, check the images section below.

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Janice Heinzmann:


Janice Heinzmann was the first female Mayor of Del Mar, and at the time of the interview below was only 6 weeks into the job. As of 2011, she is teaching U.S. and world history at MiraCosta College in Oceanside, CA.

Download the PDF transcripts: Part 1; Part 2, Part 3.

In this interview totalling approximately 94 minutes, Heinzmann discusses a wide range of topics including the following: why she ran for office; issues in campaigning; what she's learned and gained as a councilwoman and then mayor; her ambiguous feelings about politics as a career; how her political life affects her social and family life; the old versus new Del Mar factions and debates about growth in the village; how Heinzmann reacts to criticism; how men and women differ in their approach to problems; and Heinzmann's feelings about the women's movement.

Interviewed by Hugh Chindlund on audio cassette on 12/14/1972.

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Maureen O'Connor:


Maureen O'Connor was the youngest city council member ever elected in San Diego. After being treated rudely at City Hall, she ran for city council as a longshot candidate, and won the District 2 seat in an upset in November 1971, at the age of only 25. She continued to serve on the council until 1979, then served as port commissioner for the next 6 years. In 1985, O'Connor became San Diego's first female mayor, a post she held until 1992. She is also an Aztec, having graduated from San Diego State in 1970 with a bachelor's degree in psychology.

Download the PDF transcript.

At the time of this interview, Maureen O'Connor had been serving as a councilmember for just over 1 year, and had not yet begun to campaign for mayor. In this interview totalling approximately 18 minutes, O'Connor discusses the following topics: her background and inspiration for entering politics; how she announced her candidacy; the significant role of young women in her campaign; the attitude of the other council members towards her as a woman; her responsibility to be an example to other women; the city's affirmative action program; eschewing labels of "liberal" or "conservative"; her ambivalent feelings towards the women's liberation movement; and her belief in the power of the individual.

Interviewed by Richard H. Glass on audio cassette on 4/27/1973. For photos of O'Connor, check the images section below.

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Anna Stone:


Anna Stone was the first female Executive Board Member of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, starting in 1973. Born in Colorado in 1923, Stone lived in San Diego most of her life. She worked for three years with the Communications Workers of America Local 9509, then became head of Local 139 of the Office Workers Union, where she was working at the time of this interview.

Download the PDF transcript.

In this interview totalling approximately 38 minutes, Stone discusses the following topics: her family background; her motivations for getting involved with union work; activities involved with her job, particularly speaking and organizing; labor demonstrations and lobbying in state capitols; what goes on in an organizing drive; reception of men and other board members to her; the need for active involvement by women in the labor movement; her feelings on the women's liberation movement and personal refusal to take a man's place in the world; the traditional roles of women in the home; and future goals.

Interviewed by William Ades on reel-to-reel audio tape on 5/17/1973.

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