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In Honor Of Martha Lois Mcginnis Cameron Norton

Rep. Sam Farr

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Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor the achievements and promise of Martha Lois McGinnis Cameron Norton, or just simply Martha. I have known Martha much of my life as the ``go to woman'' in local elections. She is one of those Americans who embodies the meaning of the word citizenship; who works always to strengthen the quality of our democracy. Martha was born in Washington, Iowa, in 1922. She grew up on a farm and spent her childhood raising corn, tending hogs, and seeing to all the other chores of an Iowa farm girl. But being from Washington, she had politics in her blood. As a child she saw both President Hoover and Governor Roosevelt speak during the 1932 presidential campaign. Four years later she worked her first of many campaigns when she helped re-elect President Roosevelt.

While Martha built a remarkable professional career as a research scientist and educator, it is her relentless political activism that I wish to focus on today. That activism began in earnest in 1946 when Martha joined a local campaign to save San Francisco's landmark cable car system. In 1956, she worked to re-elect President Eisenhower. In 1959, she helped run her father's successful write-in campaign to become Mayor of her hometown.

In 1962 Martha moved to Monterey and hasn't stopped since. She soon worked on a variety of local races, including several of my father's, who was then serving in the California State Senate. In the late '60s, she worked on the coastal protection campaign that culminated in the voters 1972 adoption of the landmark Coastal Act. That same year Martha became a Democrat. As a young woman, she registered Republican on the advice of her mother who said that it was the Republicans who secured the vote for women. But she had become disenchanted with the direction that the Republican Party had taken, especially in civil rights, and followed Leon Panetta in making the switch.

In 1976, Martha worked as a precinct walker in Leon Panetta's successful race against Congressman Burt Talcott. She also worked on Jimmy Carter's presidential campaign, coordinating more than 100 volunteers from their teens into their 70s. In the '80s, she helped elect two pivotal Monterey County Supervisors, Sam Karas and Karin Strasser Kauffman. In 1996 she volunteered once again for Karin, in her primary race for the local state Assembly seat. While Karin lost the race, Martha felt that democrat Fred Keeley went on to be a great Assemblymember. And all along, Martha was instrumental in my own campaigns for local, state, and federal office.

Martha truly is the tireless volunteer. In addition to her campaign work, Martha has devoted countless hours to many different boards, commissions, and other community organizations, including the MPUSD school board, the Highway 68 committee, the Toxic Waste committee for Fort Ord, several League of Women Voters committees, and local Democratic committees and clubs. Martha also served several stints as the President of the Peninsula Women's Democratic Club. She has worked tirelessly over the years to register voters and encourage participation in the political process. And it is this grass roots commitment to making democracy work that deserves the attention of this House because it is the people like Martha across this country that keep our democracy alive and well.