LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS
Full Biography for Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator Dianne Feinstein's career is a history of firsts: The first woman to serve as President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors; San Francisco's first woman Mayor, the first woman to be nominated by a major party for Governor of California, among the first women to be considered for selection as a Vice Presidential nominee for a major party, and the first woman elected to represent California in the United States Senate.
Currently in her seventh year as United States Senator, Dianne Feinstein has built a reputation among her colleagues as someone who takes on, and wins, tough battles.
Dianne Feinstein was elected to the Senate in 1992 with more votes cast for a senator in U.S. history to fill the remaining two years of then-Senator Pete Wilson's term when he resigned to become California's Governor. In 1994, she was elected to her first full six-year term in the Senate where she serves on three Senate Committees: the Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over crime legislation and the confirmation of federal judges; the Appropriations Committee, which oversees funding of government agencies and programs; and the Rules and Administration Committee, which regulates Senate procedures and studies campaign finance reform.
Senator Feinstein began her public service career with an interest in criminal justice, and was appointed by then-Governor Pat Brown to serve on the California Women's Parole Board from 1960 to 1966. The youngest parole board member in the United States at the time, Feinstein set sentences and granted paroles for five thousand cases of women convicted of felonies and sent to prison in California. In 1968, she also served as a member of the San Francisco Committee on Crime.
In 1969, Dianne Feinstein was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors with more votes than any other candidate, thereby making her the first woman ever to serve as President of the City's legislative body. She was re-elected for two additional 4-year terms as Supervisor, serving three terms as Board President.
In November of 1978, in the aftermath of the assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and Board colleague Harvey Milk, Dianne Feinstein became Mayor of San Francisco. She brought the City together, helped ease its pain and in the following year was elected to the first of two four-year terms.
Public safety remained her top priority during her nine years as Mayor. Feinstein brought the City's police department up to its fully authorized strength, reducing response time on major emergencies from eight minutes down to two minutes, and cutting the crime rate 27 percent.
As Mayor, Dianne Feinstein also managed the City's finances with a firm hand, balancing nine budgets in a row. Advancing San Francisco's unique position as the gateway to the Pacific Rim, she pioneered the establishment of sister city relationships with major trading cities in Asia, Europe and Africa. In 1987, City and State Magazine named Dianne Feinstein the nation's "Most Effective Mayor."
In the United States Senate, Dianne Feinstein continues to make public safety her number one concern. As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, she authored the Gun Free Schools Act with Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and the Hate Crimes Sentencing Enhancement Act, legislation signed into law in 1994 to rid our schools of guns and increase penalties against hate crimes.
That same year, Dianne Feinstein won one of the toughest battles of her career with passage of her legislation banning the manufacture, sale and possession of military-style assault weapons. Accomplishing what no one believed possible at the time, she fought the gun lobby and won passage of the landmark ban, which was signed into law by President Clinton on September 13, 1994 as part of the Crime Bill. Senator Feinstein's anti-crime efforts won her the endorsement of every major law enforcement organization in California during her 1994 re-election campaign.
After election to her first full term in the Senate, Dianne Feinstein initiated and helped to pass the Comprehensive Methamphetamine Control Act of 1996. This law establishes new controls over the manufacture of the highly addictive narcotic methamphetamine and increases the criminal penalties for possession and distribution.
Senator Feinstein continued her fight against crime in the 105th Congress, working with Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) to pass into law legislation to address the alarming rise in gang violence. Senator Feinstein originally introduced the Federal Gang Violence Act as an independent piece of legislation, but working with Senator Hatch, she was able to include the legislation in its entirety in the 1997 Juvenile Justice bill. Even though the 105th Congress failed to act on the legislation, Senator Feinstein will again reintroduce her gang bill. She also cosponsored with Senator Jon Kyl (R-Arizona) the Crime Victims' Bill of Rights, a constitutional amendment to give victims of violent crime fundamental rights protected under the law.
Since 1994, Senator Feinstein has sought to strengthen the assault weapons ban by convincing President Clinton to sign an executive order to stop 59 types cosmetically adjusted imported assault weapons from coming into the country. This action has helped eliminate over 1.8 million of these weapons from being sold here in the United States. Senator Feinstein has also introduced legislation to stop further importation of large-capacity ammunition clips, or clips holding more than ten rounds, by eliminating the grandfather clause -- as to these imported clips -- that was included in the 1994 assault weapons ban.
Other important legislation by Senator Feinstein includes the California Desert Protection Act, protecting some of the most spectacular desert lands in the world; the Small Business Defense Conversion Guarantee Act, providing $50 million in loan guarantees to leverage $2 billion in private loans to small businesses in order to help them expand and create jobs in areas hard hit by defense downsizing; the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill, which provided $11 billion in federal disaster relief funds to help victims of the 1994 Northridge Earthquake; and legislation to create the Breast Cancer Research Stamp, which authorized the U.S. Postal Service to create a stamp priced at up to 25% higher than a first-class stamp. Because of the stamp, millions have been raised for breast cancer research.
Dianne Feinstein received a B.A. in History from Stanford University in 1955 where she served as Student Body Vice-President from 1954 to 1955.
She was born on June 22, 1933, the daughter of a respected surgeon and professor at the University of California at San Francisco Medical School. She is married to Richard C. Blum, Chairman of Blum Capital Partners, Chairman of the American Himalayan Foundation and Honorary Consul General of Nepal. Her daughter, Katherine, is a Deputy City Attorney in San Francisco. She has two granddaughters, Eileen and Lea, and three stepdaughters, Annette, Heidi (husband Ian) and Eileen (husband Alain). The family home is in San Francisco.
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