Women for Good Government: Its History
Women for Good Government can trace its roots back to a small group known among themselves as “The Lonely Democrats.”
A founding member, Janet Hebert, remembers bemoaning the candidacy of George W. Bush for president at a bridge group. She was startled to hear that he had support from other players, but one, Harlene Morrow, agreed with her, and invited her to lunch with another Democrat, Nancy Dean. They were later joined by Dorothy Cleaves.
From this beginning, other like-minded women began joining, growing to lunch gatherings of about 15 to discuss the political landscape and their dismay at its direction. One day at the La Sienna restaurant, Lynn Tredenick suggested the group turn to action.
As the group began coalescing into a club in 2005 and 2006 under the leadership of Barbara Colvin, it focused on addressing core values, current issues, supporting candidates and volunteering, gathering information with a goal of speaking to issues from informed and fact-based perspectives. Often, speakers from the University of Texas or local government were invited.
The emphasis on becoming well informed about issues became the basis for choosing a group name. Rather than identify solely with the Democratic Party, members wanted to stress careful consideration of issues and express their advocacy for good government. By early 2006, Women for Good Government was chosen.
Barbara Colvin became the first president of WGG in 2006 and launched WGG into an additional activist role in the election year, taking members to the Travis County Democratic Party Coordinated Campaign headquarters to meet and volunteer. In 2007, the club held monthly meetings with speakers on a variety of issues.
Kathy Carvell was the second president in 2010-2011, continuing the volunteer efforts at the county party and working on behalf of Democratic candidates for the Texas House of Representatives and U.S. Senate.
She followed by Sandi Bieri in 2012 and Mary Patrick, who took office in 2013. WGG members began volunteering each Monday at the Travis County Democratic Party Coordinated Campaign headquarters in 2012, sorting and stuffing literature and entering data.
Women for Good Government had a very busy summer and fall during the 2014 election year working every Monday morning from June 9 to November 3, plus a few extra days in the week before election day, at the Travis County Democratic Party Coordinated Campaign Headquarters. An average of 17 members and guests worked each day. Beneficiaries of their work ranged from Texas governor candidate Wendy Davis and the slate of statewide Democratic candidates to Travis County candidates.
Their Monday workdays totaled 793 hours. Plus WGG members staffed the CCHQ front desk for 360 hours and did an estimated 175 hours of data entry and other tasks, for a grand total of 1,328 hours.
They inserted 62,300 voter registation cards into 31,150 bags to be distributed in voter registration drives countywide; bundled 227,140 pieces of campaign literature; stamped 4,603 mailers, and stapled campaign event information to 24,920 pieces of candidate literature.
Travis County Democratic Party Chair Jan Soifer singled out WGG and the volunteers (6 of them WGG members) who staffed the front desk, saying:
“Travis County still shines brightly on the electoral map as a testament of what is possible when Democrats coordinate. And, we could not have done it without over 5000 tremendous volunteers like the Women for Good Government, Battleground Texas field organizers and team leaders, the many Democrats who opened their homes for staging locations and phone banks and participated in the huge GOTV effort in our county, and those we relied on so much to answer our phones and staff the front desk at our Coordinated Campaign office.”
In 2016, a total of 108 individuals – Women for Good Government members and new volunteers – worked at Travis County Democratic Party Coordinated Campaign Headquarters from July 18 through October 31. They labored a total of 1,502 hours, working each Monday and for the last six weeks Mondays and Thursdays.
- 26,772 voter registration cards inserted in hanger bags
- 3,889 envelopes addressed, labeled, with letters inserted
- 95,200 pieces of campaign literature prepared for distribution
In 2018, a total of 356 individuals worked at the Travis County Democratic Party Coordinated Campaign headquarters from July 9 through November 4. This was three times the number who worked in 2016, illustrating the great increase in dedication to electing Democratic candidates. They worked 4,217 hours on Mondays and Thursdays and whenever individuals wanted to drop in.
51,478 voter registration cards inserted in hanger bags
128,221 pieces of campaign literature prepared for distribution
261,011 letters and postcards prepared for mailing
Until 2019, those attending two meetings were considered group members. In 2019, attendance at WGG meetings increased to a number that could no longer meet for free in public libraries, which limited attendance to 60. The Executive Committee elected to begin charging dues of $20 annually to pay to meet at the First Unitarian Universalist Church. Within a few weeks, more than 150 paid dues and became members who can vote on issues.
2020 was a unique election year for Women for Good Government members. In previous years, they worked together at Travis County Democratic Party Coordinated Campaign Headquarters to provide campaign material to many candidates. This year, because of covid-19, some safely worked at the TCDP offices, but most picked up material and worked at home. And they accomplished so much. Eighty-four WGG members, joined by 10 friends, donated 3,317 volunteer hours working on several projects for the TCDP, the Texas Democratic Party and individual candidates.