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June 21, 2002
The Official Word
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Rep. Lynn Woolsey

Growing up in the ’50’s, my goals were to become a wife and mother. I went to college, met my husband, got married and started a family. Like the fairy tale, everything was supposed to go “happily ever after.”

Unfortunately, reality got in the way. When my children were 1, 3 and 5, my husband left us and I found myself in a position I never imagined: a single mother taking care of three small children. Even though I was working, it was not nearly enough to support my family. I had to go on welfare to add to my low wages and to provide the childcare, food stamps and health benefits that my family needed.

Because I had job skills and education, I was able to land a job. But while I was going through this difficult time, I couldn’t stop thinking about all the other women in the same situation. I felt lucky. I was healthy, my children were healthy, I was educated. I never questioned that this obstacle in my life was temporary, and you know that I was assertive. I couldn’t help but think how difficult it would be for women who were not educated, who did not have extended family support, who were victims of domestic violence, whose children were sick.

That is one of the main reasons I decided to run for City Council in my hometown of Petaluma, California. My family succeeded because of government assistance, and I wanted to do my all to help families in similar situations. During my tenure, I fought for the homeless, for programs that helped working families, children, and the environment. Petaluma was the first city in the nation to have a growth control ordinance in order to protect the city and the environment from overgrowth. More than 20 years later, Petaluma is a growing, affluent community with more than 20 percent affordable housing stock.

My experience as a welfare mom drew me into politics, and my passion for serving my community got me elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. I continue to fight for welfare moms and working families, to protect our environment and to provide a bright future for our children. In the coming year, I plan to introduce legislation that will help improve the lives of working families and their children at all stages of development. It will include paid family leave after the birth of a child, increased funding for childcare, school breakfast for all students and help for working families taking care of aging parents.

I am proud to serve the citizens of Marin and Sonoma Counties as their representative in Congress and feel fortunate for every day that I work to help families and children throughout the country.

2002 The Institute for Public Affairs | Contact webmaster.
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