Former Texas Governor Ann Richards passed away last night from cancer.
Richards began her political career in 1976 when she was elected to a seat on the Travis County Commissioners Court. Six years later she became the first woman in 50 years to be elected to statewide office in Texas as the state treasurer. In 1990 she was elected governor of Texas, where she appointed more minorities than any other governor in the history of the state.
According to the an AP article in the Houston-Chronicle:
Her family said as governor she was most proud of two actions that probably cost her re-election. She vetoed legislation that would allow people to carry concealed handguns, automatic weapons and so-called "cop-killer bullets."
She also vetoed a bill that critics said would have allowed the destruction of the Edwards Aquifer, a major underground water system that now serves 1.7 million in people in south central Texas, including the city of San Antonio.
What the article doesn't mention is that a whisper campaign that she was a lesbian didn't help her election either. Who was she running against? The answer is of course: Bush/Rove.
Before leaving the governorship Ann said:
"I did not want my tombstone to read, 'She kept a really clean house.' I think I'd like them to remember me by saying, 'She opened government to everyone,'"The AP article also notes:
She appointed the first black University of Texas regent; the first crime victim to join the state Criminal Justice Board; the first disabled person to serve on the human services board; and the first teacher to lead the State Board of Education. Under Richards, the fabled Texas Rangers pinned stars on their first black and female officers.
Asked once what she might have done differently had she known she was going to be a one-term governor, Richards grinned."Oh, I would probably have raised more hell."
Ann was one hell of a woman.
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Randy provides a link to listen to her 1988 keynote speech. Frightening how much of it is still relevant today.
And, the family of Ann Richards has requested that memorial gifts be made to the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders through the Austin Community Foundation, P.O. Box 5159, Austin, Texas 78763, 512-472-4483, or at www.austincommunityfoundation.org