Summarized by Kent Larsen
Local LDS Politician Named 'Newsmaker of the Decade'
Los Angeles Times (Daily Pilot) 30Dec99 D2
By Tony Dodero
ORANGE COUNTY, CALIFORNIA -- The Orange County, California Daily
Pilot, owned by the Los Angeles Times, chose LDS church member and
long-time Orange County politician Marian Bergeson as "Newsmaker of
the Decade." Bergeson, who is currently a member of California's state
Board of Education, served as State Senator, County Supervisor and as
Secretary of Child Development and Education under Governor Pete
Wilson during the past decade.
Among her republican colleagues, Bergeson is highly regarded. Former
Newport Beach Mayor Evelyn Hart says she owes her political career to
Bergeson, "I cut my political teeth with Marian Bergeson. There are a
few women in politics and none of them are role models like Marian
Bergeson. She's very quotable, very down to earth and a very loyal
friend over the years."
Orange County Republican Chairman Tom Fuentes agrees, "It has to be
said that Marian is very first, a beautiful Mormon woman. As a devoted
Christian, she has carried her values into her service in public
office from school board right up through the top. As a woman, that
was very courageous. She never caved on core values, which is
significant in the political debate."
Bergeson moved to Newport Beach's Baycrest community in 1958 with her
husband Garth. A school teacher, Bergeson was elected to the local
school board in 1964, serving there for more than 10 years before
gaining a seat in the California State Assembly as a republican. In
the 1980s, she moved up to the State Senate, still representing her
Orange County home district.
In the 1990s, Bergeson became much more visible and prominent in
California politics, but only through a number of seeming setbacks. In
1990 she was nominated for California's Lieutenant Governor, but lost
in the general election. Returning to the Senate, she then faced a
steep recession that left California with $15 billion to cut from its
budget. Then in 1992, Governor Pete Wilson nominated her to be the
state's Superintendent of Public Instruction, but her nomination was
squelched by the Democratic State Assembly Speaker, Willie Brown.
So Bergeson returned to local politics, running unopposed for a seat
on the Orange County Board of Supervisors in 1994. But a month before
she took office, Orange County declared bankruptcy, in what is still
called the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. The resulting
financial difficulties hampered Bergeson and her colleagues on the
Board of Supervisors,
After struggling out of the difficulties of bankruptcy, Governor Pete
Wilson again drew Bergeson back into state-wide service, nominating
her for his cabinet as Secretary of Child Development and Education.
In that position, Bergeson pushed for and attained reductions in
class sizes statewide and improved teacher training and curriculum
Through all her difficulties, Bergeson has managed to keep a great
deal of optimism about her circumstances. "You don't really have
disappointments, you have experiences," she says. And she expects to
keep that outlook for the rest of her life. "Luckily I have good
health and great expectations for involvement. I've never had to worry
about opportunities coming forward. And when I can't (be involved
anymore) I will just continue to walk my dog around the block and
enjoy my grand kids."