Kennedy, Ursula

Former Councilmember and First Woman Mayor for the City of Tustin, CA; Retired Attorney





An interview with Ursula Kennedy, the first woman mayor of Tustin and former councilmember for the Tustin City Council from 1978 to 1990. The purpose of this interview is to gather information for Dr. Fousekis’s “Women, Politics, and Activism Since Suffrage” project in History 492A course at Cal State Fullerton. This interview begins with Kennedy’s first memory of leaving her native Chula Vista [California] for boarding school in San Francisco; talks about continuing education at public school in Chula Vista; mentions childhood memory of the campaign for Thomas Dewey (1940s); discusses her grandparents and parents and how they influenced her; recalls the bombing of Pearl Harbor and her sudden awareness of war; speaks about the effects of World War II; discusses relationships with her siblings, childhood challenges, and early role models; recalls how her parents’ political views as strict Republicans shaped her own; shares other background information such as her parents’ careers, meeting her husband on a blind date, and her own educational background, including her time at San Diego State (and later Cal State Fullerton); remembers her decision to go to law school in her late forties; recollects how she first got involved in politics in Tustin, her election to the city council in 1978, and taking on local pollutant Thiokol Dynachem Corporation; discusses main goals and challenges of serving on the city council, including being shunned by other council members; talks about her campaigns and raising funds (’78, ’82, and ’86); recounts how gender affected her role as a councilmember; discusses the role of motherhood and councilmember; remembers how she finally became mayor after six attempts; speaks about the role of the Republican party in her career, issues that were important to her, as well as memorable moments and achievements while serving on the council; comments on the political climate as a “good old boys network,” and her own leadership style; mentions how she hopes the role of women in politics has evolved and how she always had a drive to persevere in politics; recalls what motivated her as a councilmember; shares memorable stories during her twelve years in office; describes why she believes women should participate in politics, and what she would tell them; discusses how she is proud to be the first woman elected to the Tustin City Council as well as the first woman mayor of Tustin; and finally, details how the city council votes and operates internally.


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File Name 5356_P01.JPG
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Description> Ursula Kennedy with interviewer, 2013.