Westmont Magazine Fierce Compassion
After years of community involvement and supporting her husband’s successful campaigns for city council, mayor and county supervisor, Marjorie Musser Mikels ’68 decided to leave the Republican Party and run for Congress as a Democrat in California’s 26th district. She won her party’s nomination in California’s March primary.
Two events motivated her to make a radical change in her political position. The first was the failed attempt to locate a nuclear waste dump in Ward Valley on top of an underground aquifer near the Colorado River. She joined with other activists in San Bernardino County, including her sister, Ruth Lopez, a member of the Needles City Council, to oppose the project. She helped write and circulate a ballot initiative banning the dump, which required a lot of research. What she learned about the government’s role in promoting the dump disturbed her.
The second was the enactment of the Patriot Act in October 2001, which she believes unrightly limits freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution. “If 9-11 hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be running,” she explains. “Someone has to stand up against this restriction of basic freedoms in the name of national security.”,/p>
Her passionate commitment to justice motivates her political positions, set forth on her Web site, marjoriemikels.com.
Describing herself as a “compassionate, fierce mother,” she lists five concerns: protecting freedom, restoring justice, promoting fair trade, saving Social Security from privatization, and preserving life by using clean energy and ending pollution.
Her opponent, Rep. David Drier, chairs the House Rules Committee and has held office for 20 years. His campaign is well financed, and he enjoys all the advantages of an incumbent.,/p>
Marjorie, who has raised less than $10,000, is conducting a grass-roots drive, speaking to groups whenever asked and going door-to-door. She has received little support from party leaders.
When people wonder why she bothers to run against a well-entrenched incumbent, she says, “I believe in democracy and consider dialogue essential. We’ve had little discussion of the Patriot Act and military tribunals that will try accused terrorists, and I want to raise those issues. And the path we walk is just as important as our destination. I don’t always do things just to win.”
Marjorie has no long-term political aspirations but is committed to continued activism. “We need voices to balance things out, especially in support of families and children.”
Her own daughters are grown. After graduating from UC Davis Law School, Angela, 26, practices with a large firm in Palo Alto, Calif. Jessica, 24, is a freelance writer and editor who went to UC Santa Cruz and lives in San Francisco, Calif. The youngest, Amanda, 22, is doing cancer research in a Ph.D. program at Stanford.
After graduating from Westmont, Marjorie went to law school at UC Los Angeles and became the first female lawyer hired by two separate law firms. In 1988 she started her own practice, Mikels and Associates, specializing in estate planning, wills and trusts, and real property lease transactions. The American Business Women’s Association named her one of the Top Ten Businesswomen in the United States in 1989.