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Schmidt Recognized For Making ‘HERstory’

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Sonora, CA — The Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors, with a spice of controversy mixed in, took time to recognize Mary Anne Schmidt for making local HERstory.

The award is given out as part of Women’s History Month to someone in each of California’s 58 counties as selected by the California State Senator for the region.

Democratic Senator Marie Alvarado-Gil selected Mary Anne Schmidt for Tuolumne County, who was nominated by District Five Supervisor Jaron Brandon. A representative from Alvarado Gil’s office was on hand at today’s board meeting and several people praised Schmidt for being a member of the Tuolumne County Behavioral Health Board, a local campaign organizer, a Red Cross volunteer, and an advocate for justice and equality, women’s reproductive rights, and against gun violence.

Supervisor Brandon’s nomination noted that she works tirelessly behind the scenes and is an independent voice for change.

Schmidt was in attendance and stated that she accepts the award with a “humble heart.”

She added, “Yesterday I got a text referring to me as a ‘troublemaker,’ and I took that as a compliment. Well-behaved women seldom make HERstory. And I raise my voice respectfully. Not so that I can shout, but so those without a voice can be heard.”

Schmidt continued, “One does not do things alone. Looking out at this audience tells me the real HERstory of what has been done in this county. Each of you contributes to this beautiful rural county and you will continue every single day of your life. Do not underestimate what you have done, and what you will continue to do, from making a simple phone call to a friend in need, to running a political campaign, to running for political office, delivering meals to our seniors, or supporting a family whose home has burned down.”

A handful of people in the audience gave praise to Schmidt, and told stories about her, including Office of Emergency Services Assistant Director Dore Bietz, and Sonora City Councilman Andy Merrill.

It was then time for the board of supervisors to weigh in.

Supervisor Ryan Campbell stated, “She (Schmidt) is the perfect example of what an involved citizen should be. Mary Anne has encouraged me, inspired me, and challenged me, in so many different ways over the years and showed me qualities in myself that I didn’t even know that I had. She is one of ‘those kind of people.’”

He said she is a “hub” of engagement in the community and is a true believer in the concept, “If you want to complain, you have to do something about it.”

Supervisor Brandon added, “I challenge anybody to find someone who is more dedicated and spends more of their time serving others on various committees and showing up to meetings.”

He said she is a “model citizen” and “not a bystander.” Brandon joked that she isn’t afraid to tell him, personally, he is “full of it,” when he needs to hear it.

District Three Supervisor Anaiah Kirk took a counter opinion, and said he is “really bummed out” that the full group of supervisors didn’t get to weigh in on the process ahead of Senator Alvarado-Gil’s selection. Indicating that he disagrees with Schmidt on various issues, he questioned the memo stating “justice and equality and women’s protective rights,” which he said the latter is another word for abortion, which he strongly opposes. The memo also talked about Schmidt working against gun violence, which he indicated ties into Second Amendment rights. Kirk said if aspects of the memo were changed, he would have supported the presentation.

Board Chair David Goldemberg criticized Kirk’s statements, and responded, “I don’t think any one of us should be individually, or as a body, be taking a stance publicly on things like abortion and women’s rights.”

Supervisor Campbell told Kirk that Supervisor Brandon took the initiative to nominate Schmidt, and it is something that any of the supervisors could have done.

Supervisor Kathleen Haff was absent and didn’t weigh in. The item was only a presentation on Senator Alvarado-Gil’s pick so no board vote was needed.

The memo announcing the selection, from Senator Alvarado-Gil, is below:

“Since its inception in 1987, the Woman of the Year event has provided an opportunity for members of the legislature to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of remarkable women in California. This year, Senator Alvarado-Gil has selected Mary Anne Schmidt to be honored as Woman of the Year. Her tireless advocacy across various fronts exemplifies the spirit of this accolade. Mary Anne’s relentless pursuit of justice and equality, from organizing rallies for women’s reproductive rights to advocating against gun violence, showcases her deep commitment to societal betterment. Her involvement with the Tuolumne County Behavioral Health Board, coupled with her passion for educational reform and environmental stewardship, highlights her multifaceted contributions to our community. Moreover, her engagement with the Red Cross and dedication to civic education stand as testaments to her unwavering commitment to service and community empowerment. Mary Anne’s influence extends through her advocacy for the arts, enriching our cultural landscape and fostering a more inclusive and empathetic society.”