By Guest Blogger, CA Representative Karen Bass
|Hon. Diane Watson and Congresswoman Karen Bass|
To me, she is a mentor. I take my seat in the U.S. House of Representatives for the 33rd Congressional District of California not as a replacement, but with her at my side. I have many people to thank for believing in and working toward my success in the 2010 mid-term election, but her encouragement and support helped guide my decision to run for the seat when she stepped down.
I would like to take a moment to highlight some of Diane Watson’s historical and influential career. She is best known for her dedication and tireless work towards education reform. In 1975, Watson was the first black woman elected to the Los Angeles School Board of Education. She is regarded as a community hero for her endless support for quality public service.
A few years later, she began a remarkable political career. She served as a member of the California State Senate from 1978 to 1998, was appointed by President Bill Clinton to serve as Ambassador to Micronesia from 1999 to 2000 and recently ended a ten year career in the U.S. House of Representatives. Her contribution to education, social services and health care exemplify the proven societal benefits that result when women seek roles in public office.
Walking the halls of Congress, it is difficult to ignore the obvious gender disparity. It is imperative that we continue our work to elect more women to office and demand equal representation. I want to thank Diane Watson for the example she has set in recognizing the important role and responsibility of women in Congress and other elective office to take steps to continue their legacy. We need more women holding office not only to reach out and encourage younger women to run for office but to actively recruit and mentor talented women to step into their shoes. I am honored and humbled to be a public servant to my constituents and look forward to continuing the work of former Representative Diane Watson.