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Ann Richards
31.    Ann Richards

Dorothy Ann Willis (1933-2006) was born September 1, 1933, in Lakeview, Texas. Richards received a bachelor's degree from Baylor University and a teaching certificate from the University of Texas. She taught social studies and history at Fulmore Junior High School in Austin before raising her family. She also spent much of her time volunteering for political campaigns and causes, especially those focusing on civil rights and economic justice.

Richards entered politics in 1976, winning election as a Travis county commissioner. Six years later in 1982 she was elected state treasurer, the first woman elected to statewide office in Texas in fifty years. She was credited with greatly modernizing the operations of the treasury. Reelected in 1986, she gained national prominence when she delivered the keynote address at the 1988 Democratic National Convention.

Ann Richards
Governor Ann Richards
Ann Richards oversaw a revival of the state's economic fortunes. She stressed government efficiency by authorizing comprehensive audits of every state agency. She focused on education as well, introducing site-based management to put more power in the hands of the parents and teachers at the campus level. In the area of law enforcement, Richards increased prison space, cut the release of violent offenders, introduced a substance abuse program in Texas prisons, and opposed the sale of assault weapons and "cop-killer" bullets. Richards was also noted for her unprecedented appointments of women and minorities to important posts. During her administration a state lottery was approved and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was passed.

After she was defeated for re-election by George W. Bush in the 1994 election, Richards continued to be a prominent figure in Texas politics. She was a constant presence on the fundraising circuit for liberal groups and causes, championed women's health issues, and joined the prominent Austin-based firm Public Strategies, splitting her time between their Austin and New York offices. Richards died in Austin on September 13, 2006.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: link: Texas State Cemetery. link: Texas State Library.

Texas Politics:
© 2006, Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services
University of Texas at Austin
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