Contra Costa Herstory
Women Leaders Writing Political History in Contra Costa County
Framework for Authors
Name (Exactly How You Want Published): _Lynnet Auker Keihl___________________
Address: _1111 Vista Point Lane, Concord, CA 94521____________________________
Telephone(s): _925-672-2567___________________ Fax: __________________________
Birth Date: _Oct 24, 1941____________ Birth Place: _Seattle, Washington__________
_B.A., Social Science, San Jose State University __________________________________
_M.A., History, San Jose State University__________________________________________
_Certified Municipal Clerk, CMC; Advanced Certification, AAE___________________
Work and Career History (Positions and Dates):
__Housewife and mother (and active Concord AAUW member), 1963-1983_______
__Administrative Assistant, JFK University, 1983-1985 ______________________________
Appointed Public Offices (Positions and Dates):
__Concord Planning Commissioner and Design Review Board member, 1/77-11/78 and 6/81-11/85,
serving 6 ½ years _______________________________________________
__Contra Costa Mosquito Abatement District, trustee, 1981-1984, serving 4 years __
Elected Public Offices (Positions and Dates):
__Concord City Clerk, 1985-2002, serving 17 years________________________________
When Did You Move to Contra Costa County and Why?
__Tony and I moved to Concord in 1969 because housing was affordable, and Concord was a good
place to raise our three children __________________________
EXPERIENCES THAT SHAPED YOUR PERSPECTIVES ON POLITICS
What kind of experiences growing up most influenced who you are today?
I had a wonderful father who discussed politics and business at the dinner table.
My parents stressed education and my college degrees were important to them.
What education experiences formed your perspectives?
When I entered San Jose State in 1959, I paid $25 for college fees and $25 for
books. I knew I had the best bargain in the world! I was accepted into an honors humanities program
that focused on the classics and enhanced my critical
What family, home or workplace experiences formed your perspectives?
While in college, I was selected as the community ambassador from San Jose, California to its new
sister city, San Jose, Costa Rica, where I lived with a Costa
Rican family. For a year following my return, I spoke to community groups about
the sister city. This was an incredible experience, providing insights into a foreign
country and into my own hometown.
As a participant in the Coro Foundation Public Affairs Training Program for Women
in 1978, I took part in an intensive examination of public leadership, focusing on
the major sectors influencing public affairs. This unique program broadened my understanding of
political power and the potential involvement of women.
HOW AND WHY YOU GOT INVOLVED IN WOMEN’S POLITICS
What motivated you to get involved in women’s politics?
In 1973 Jane Emanuel and I joined other Concord AAUW members to evaluate and recommend
changes to Concord’s process for making appointments to city boards and commissions. Women had
difficulty getting those appointments, which tended to preclude them from advancing in local politics.
With a membership of 280 women, Concord AAUW was involved in many projects relating to the
community, education and women. AAUW could take a stand on issues, but could not endorse
candidates. AAUW members, however, did join together on their own to support candidates.
What were your significant Contra Costa County experiences – personal, work, family, civic and
political that caused you to want to become involved?
In 1976 June Bulman decided to run for Concord City Council. Only one other woman had ever been
elected, Rosalie Sher, who served from 1964-1968. June formed a campaign committee composed of
Virginia Nugent, Jane Emanuel,
Elaine Jegi, Anita Nevison, Ruth Culhane, Barbara Crain and myself. Her campaign committee
functioned beautifully – it was a “dream campaign.” With careful planning and hard work, June was
successfully elected. In 1980 June became Concord’s first female mayor.
What did you want to see accomplished?
I wanted to see women elected to the Concord City Council. June Bulman was elected in 1976, Diane
Longshore in 1980 and Colleen Coll in 1982. By 1982 women held three of the five Council seats. We
had come a long way in six years!
WOMEN AS LEADERS IN PUBLIC OFFICE
As an elected or appointed official, what issues were most important to you?
As an appointed planning commissioner, the issue most important to me was the acquisition and
preservation of public open space.
As an elected city clerk, I made every effort to follow the letter and the spirit of the laws affecting my
office. I was very cognizant of my responsibility to the citizens of Concord. They might not always
understand what the office does, but I wanted them to always have confidence in the office.
What actions did you take or are you taking, successful or not, to further these issues?
In 1977 Virginia Nugent and I served as co-coordinators of the Lime Ridge Open Space Bond Measure
Committee. The bond measure, which passed by 73%, approved the purchase 194 acres of open
space in Concord.
The duties performed by the city clerk’s office are more varied and complex than I expected when I
was elected in 1985. I became a certified municipal clerk to enhance my expertise in performing
those duties. I appreciated the neutrality and the legal responsibilities involved in assisting the city
council in doing its business and the citizens in taking part in that business. I treasure the nickname I
had at city hall – “Miss Good Government.”
What is left to be done to address your priority issues? N/A
IMPACT OF WOMEN IN POLITICS
How have women transformed politics in Contra Costa County?
Women have transformed politics by getting elected, by bringing the female perspective to decision-
making, and by assisting more women to be appointed and elected to political positions. June Bulman
was my mentor, and she encouraged me to seek a planning commission appointment. Having
participated in June’s campaign committee in 1976, I was prepared to run my own campaign in 1985.
What barriers and resistance had to be overcome?
The biggest barrier for me was overcoming the “old boys network” to get appointed to the planning
commission. I had June’s support, and I had spoken before the planning commission and city council
in helping to present AAUW’s recommend-ations for a proposed sign ordinance for Concord. But I
needed the votes of the councilmen. I was a founding director of Concord Ambassadors, and in 1975
Tony and I traveled with a delegation that included Mayor Dick Holmes and Councilman Tom
Wentling to Kitakami, Japan as part of the first sister city delegation. I think my role during the official
presentations may have impressed those city leaders – especially the short speech I made in
Japanese! Later they appointed me to the planning commission.
What is different today about women in politics than when the movement began in the early 70s?
When the Concord Planning Commission met in its twice-monthly study sessions in 1977, I was the
only female in the conference room. The other commissioners were men, the city staff were men, the
developers were men, the architects were men and the lawyers were men. I felt that all eyes were on
me – and that I had to prove my competence. We’ve come a long way since then, with women
involved in all aspects of local government.
IMPORTANCE OF WOMEN IN POLITICS
Why is it important for women to remain involved in politics?
Women must continue to carry the torch – for themselves, their daughters and to honor the
impressive women who blazed the trail for all women.
What is at risk if the participation of women in appointed and elected public offices decreases?
I am concerned about the lack of highly-qualified women – and men – involved in local, state and
national government. We will have the best community possible if we have excellent women and
men seeking appointment and election.
What advice do you have for the next generation of women leaders?
During my day, many stay-at-home moms volunteered in their communities, and those efforts sometimes led
them into local politics and government. Today, many women are working mothers, with little time for outside
involvement. Perhaps later in their lives these women will be able to get involved – and maybe they will bring a
mature, working woman’s perspective and energy to the next generation of women leaders.
AS THE FIRST FEMALE MAYOR OF CONCORD, JUNE BULMAN WAS VERY IMPORTANT.
I AM ATTACHING ONE OF THE EULOGIES FROM HER MEMORIAL SERVICE.
SHE SHOULD BE INCLUDED IN HERSTORY.
JUNE BULMAN’S MEMORIAL SERVICE
January 12, 1998
June Bulman blazed the trail and set the standard for women in local government. All over our country, it was
a time when women were entering government in increasing numbers. In Concord, June led the way.
June had been involved in community service, particularly at Wren Avenue School, and she was an active
member of the League of Women Voters and the American Association of University Women. As a League
member, she monitored Concord Planning Commission meetings. This is where her interest in local
government really started. Then for two years she chaired the Concord Community Forum, which was a day-
long town hall meeting of citizens wanting to improve Concord. That involvement led to her appointment to
the Concord Planning Commission. June was only the fifth woman ever appointed when she began serving in
1973. But times were changing.
When June attended Planning Commission study sessions, she was normally the only woman in the room. City
planning staff were men, developers were men, architects were men and attorneys were men. It’s hard to
believe now, but that’s the way it was in the 1970s. But it didn’t intimidate our June.
June focused on her role as a planning commissioner; she seemed unaware that she was a forerunner of the
future significant involvement of women in our local government. As she concerned herself with the
revitalization of the downtown and the preservation of ridgelines and historic buildings, she began to realize
she could accomplish more on the city council.
In 1976 June made the decision to run, and she turned primarily to her AAUW friends to form her “kitchen
cabinet.” Seven women set out to get June Bulman elected to the Concord City Council. It was one of those
incredibly wonderful experiences. Several women felt they knew exactly what to do, because for years they
had helped elect male candidates. But several of us had never done this before. We did get advice from male
politicians, but we knew it was up to us to do the fundraising and walk those precincts. With careful planning
and great teamwork, we eagerly tackled the hard work of winning an election. In a role reversal, husband
Norm Bulman kept the women going by serving the coffee, and son Bill Bulman walked his fair share of
precincts. Supporters came forward to put up yard signs, hold coffees, send “dear friend” cards, and
contribute the grand total of $3,000. And June won the election. It was a terrific victory.
June went on to serve 13 ½ years on the Concord City Council. And as we are all very proud of saying, in 1980
she became the first female mayor in the history of Concord. Other women followed her onto the Council, but
it still wasn’t easy for women. When Diane Longshore ran, she was asked, “Why are you running? We already
have a woman on the council.” Diane was elected in 1980 and Colleen Coll came on the council in 1982 -- and
imagine that, there was a majority of three woman on the Concord City Council. Times had certainly changed
– and in only six years!
On a personal note, June served as a mentor and role model for me. She encouraged me to serve on the
planning commission and to run for city clerk. She pioneered the way – and made it a lot easier for others to
Not only did June blaze the trail; for many of us, she set the standard. Politics has been described as the art of
compromise, but many of June’s supporters admired her determination to stand by her principles and carefully
reasoned decisions. There are times when compromise is wrong, when it’s an acceptance of mediocrity. As a
councilmember and mayor, June knew that.
Those of us who closely followed the events at Concord City Hall know the many difficult decisions June made.
She didn’t play political games nor make politically expedient decisions. She studied the issue, stated her
position, and was consistent in her decision-making. She weighed the long-range effects and the benefit to the
entire city. Perhaps the best word to describe June is “integrity.” We did feel safe and secure with June on the
Concord City Council.
June, from all our hearts, we respect and love you.
Lynnet Keihl, CMC
Concord City Clerk
Note: June’s “kitchen cabinet” included Virginia Nugent, Jane Emanuel, Elaine Jegi, Anita Nevison, Ruth
Culhane, Barbara Crain and Lynnet Keihl.