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A short history of the Women Democrats of Sacramento County

​Written by Carol Velarde and updated by Marcia Blount (1/17/2015)

In 1971, club members were excited to meet with George McGovern in his pre-campaign march across the country and president Dixie Sorenson Meixner forgot his remarks after his defeat, “I always wanted to run for president in the worst way and this year I did!”


President Mary Ann Anderson remembered that in 1974 Lady Bird Johnson donated items for an auction at which then Assemblyman Willie Brown was the auctioneer.  In 1975-76, Janet Nelson presided over a banner year for speakers that included Bob Matsui, Vic Fazio and Jane Fonda.  The main event of the 1976-77 year, with Vicki English presiding, was a reception for Roslyn Carter at he Public Market.  Cosponsored with March Fong Eu, more than 500 people attended.  The Christmas party that year featured Phil Isenberg as the auctioneer and the items auction included a print from the LBJ Ranch and peanut bags from Carter’s warehouse.


Anne Rudin served as the auctioneer at the 1982 Christmas party when Melinda Cave was president, and in 1983, President Vivian Nance hosted Leah Belli who discussed the political climate in Poland and her meeting with Lech Walesa.


Many more programs and fundraiser speakers informed, educated and entertained members over our 50 year history.  Programs were often combined with lunch or a reception and held at various venues:  The Tuesday Club, Melarkey’s, Posey’s, the Tower Cafe, Sterling Hotel, Sacramento Club, Casa De Los Ninos Garden Restaurant, and even a brown bag lunch at Cesar Chavez Park.  Many events have been held in members’ homes.  Dues, which began at $5 per year, were raised to $10 in 1974, $20-$25 in 2004, and $30-$35 in 2017.


The preponderance of our speakers were or became elected officials and a partial list, in addition to those already noted, included:  Anne Rudin, Heather Fargo, Al Rodda, Leroy Greene, Delaine Eastin, John Garamendi, Deborah Ortiz, Patrick Johnston, John Moss, Barbara Boxer, Lloyd Connelly, Darrell Steinberg, Illa Collin, Roger Dickinson, Patti Garamendi, Bonnie Pannell, Dave Jones, Genevieve Shiroma, Susan Patterson, Trina Berger, Dawn McCoy and Debra Bowen.  Several of them were also members of the WDSC.


Speakers representing community organizations also shared their expertise on subjects of concern and interest to members such as reproductive rights, civil liberties, equal pay, access to health care, environmental conservation, community planning, education, separation of church and state, human trafficking, domestic violence and lots more.  Activities done in coalition with other organizations were numerous, such as the 75th Anniversary Celebration of the 19th Amendment which granted women the right to vote.  


Club sponsored candidate forums have been held in most election cycles.  In February 2004, representatives of the nine Democratic presidential candidates were invited to participate and five of them (Clark, Dean, Kerry, Kucinich and Lieberman) were able to accept.


A highlight of 2006 was our reception honoring State Senator Sheila Kuehl and former State Senate President Pro Tempore, John Burton, for their exemplary contributions to improving the quality of life for all California residents.  In 2007, Secretary of State, Debra Bowen, will be similarly honored.


We have contributed thousands of dollars to Democratic candidates for local, state and national elections and given countless hours of volunteer time to numerous campaigns.  We have even trained the volunteers!  We have participated with the Democratic County Central Committee in staffing the Democratic booth at the annual State Fair and supported, with money and attendance, other Democratic clubs’ events and efforts.  Women Democrats volunteer to register new citizens at Memorial Auditorium every month.  Several of our officers and members are or were candidates for office and/or staff for federal, state and local legislators.


After gathering in members’ homes for many years, we began meeting at the SMUD facilities on S Street, and for several years now have enjoyed the generosity of the Sacramento City Teachers Association and convene in their building on Elvas Avenue.


The name of the organization was changed in 1993 to “Women Democrats of Sacramento County (WDSC)” but the activities and commitment to the Democratic Party and its core values remain the same.  We are particularly dedicated to expanding the role of women in elective office.


On September 26, 2013, our club had a 60th Anniversary party at the Dante Club.  Our keynote speaker was Betty Yee, then a member of the State Board of Equalization, who was elected to be the California State Controller starting in 2015.  It was well attended by many local Democrats.


The names of our past presidents since 1953 are listed.  For a period of time commencing in 1991, the organization was presided over by an executive committee which then disbanded.  In the summer of 1993, the club was “revived” and returned to a presidency based on the calendar year.


Founded in 1953, WDSC is Sacramento's oldest political club.

Peggy Marek - 1953

Ruth Sauze - 1953-55

Clarice Rodda - 1956

Margaret Benes - 1957

Marian Myers - 1958

Norma Clevenger - 1959

Lorelei Winter - 1960

Lillian Altman - 1961

Virna Canson - 1962

Eleanor Tieburg - 1963

Virginia Mueller - 1964

Penny Britton - 1965

Marion Tingling - 1966

Jean Paolini - 1966

Lucille McKeown - 1967

Dorothy Barth - 1968

Ione Lowery - 1969

Gee Albietz - 1970

Dixie Sorensen Meixner - 1971

Kate Pemberton - 1972-73

Nancy Smith - 1973-74

Patricia Duschka - 1974

Mary Ann Anderson - 1974-75

Janet Nelson - 1975-76

Victoria English - 1976-77

Joan Clazie - 1977-78

Judy Barker - 1978-79

Nancy Seegmiller - 1979-80

Mignon Fogerty - 1980-82

Melinda Cave - 1982-83

Vivian Nance - 1983-84

Eunice Stewart - 1984-85

Emmy Bratton - 1985-87

Kate Pemberton - 1987-88

Allie Armstrong - 1988-89

Pene Wilson - 1990-91

Executive Committee - 1991-92

Carol Velarde - 1993-95

Kathleen Wishnick - 1996

Susan McKee - 1997-98

Linda Copeland - 1999-2000

Eunice Stewart - 2001-02

Linda Rogaski - 2003-04

Linda Tuttle - 2005-06

Jo Souvingnier - 2007-08

Kate Lenox - 2009-10

Judy Kennedy - 2011

Silvia Landers - 2012

Nichole Trujillo - 2013

Marcie Launey - 2014

Kate Van Buren - 2015-16

Diane Mitchell - 2017

Tracie Stafford - 2017-2019

Kate Van Buren - 2020-2022

Sandra Hazel - 2023 - Present

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