Dudley Dudley (politician)
Dudley Webster Dudley (born Dudley Webster; August 4, 1936) is a political activist in the American state of New Hampshire, known for her legislation that prevented shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis from building an oil refinery in Durham, New Hampshire in 1974. In 1976, Dudley became the first woman elected to the New Hampshire Executive Council, where she served four consecutive terms. In 1984, she won the Democratic primary to represent New Hampshire’s first Congressional District.
Early life and career
Born in Exeter, New Hampshire, Dudley Webster was raised in the neighboring town of Durham where she has lived most of her life. She attended the Robinson Female Seminary and then studied art at the University of New Hampshire. When she married Portsmouth attorney Thomas Dudley, taking his last name of Dudley, her name became both a political asset and the source of humor throughout her career. Dudley and her husband have two daughters, Morgan and Rebecca Dudley, whom they raised in Durham.
Dudley was a delegate to the 1972 Democratic National Convention for George McGovern, working for him in the Presidential primary race in N.H. In 1974, Senator Morris Udall came to Bedford, New Hampshire and announced he was going to run for the Democratic nomination for president. Dudley became First District Coordinator for Mo Udall’s presidential campaign, during which she hosted much of the campaign staff, including Mo Udall’s son Mark, who lived with the family during the New Hampshire primary race. All the while, Dudley was pursuing a career of her own.
From 1972 to 1976, Dudley served in the New Hampshire State Legislature. About halfway through her first term, an unexpected and environmentally impactful change was proposed that would have altered Dudley’s hometown, and the entire seacoast of New Hampshire: the construction of the world's largest oil refinery.
Opposition to Onassis Oil Refinery plans
In 1974, Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis planned to build the world’s largest oil refinery along the New Hampshire Seacoast. In an effort to save her New England hometown from becoming a site for crude oil production, Dudley rallied thousands of local community members and delivered a petition that was created by the citizen group Save Our Shores (SOS). Upon presentation, it caused then-Governor Meldrim Thomson to throw her out of his office.
It was a vicious battle, but Dudley was eventually able to propose legislation that convinced a special session of the state legislature to approve Home Rule Bill HB 18, giving Durham residents the legal right to veto the oil refinery. This legislation prevented 3,500 acres along the shore of the Great Bay from becoming a six-hundred-million dollar refinery and earned Dudley a national reputation as an environmental activist
Later, Durham playwright Edso Valena created a dramatic reenactment of the event. His original musical Oily-Vey was performed by middle and high school children from Oyster River High School and staged at the University of New Hampshire. The lyrics were adapted from popular show tunes. For instance, the character portraying Onassis sang a song titled “If I Only Owned the Bay” to the tune of the song “If I Only Had a Brain”, made popular by the scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz. The play was received by the audience as both hilarious and educational as it told an important story about their community.
Later political career
Following the oil refinery battle, Dudley was elected to the Governor’s Executive Council, where she served from 1976 to 1984. At that time she was the first woman to serve in an office higher than Legislature, making Dudley the highest politically ranked woman in the state.
In 1980, along with Joanne Symons, Dudley spearheaded the Draft Kennedy campaign, urging Senator Edward Kennedy to run for President. In addition to leading the Kennedy campaign, she has worked on the Presidential campaigns of Eugene McCarthy, George McGovern, Mo Udall, Paul Tsongas and Barack Obama. In 1984, Dudley won the Democratic nomination for the first Congressional District, and was defeated by Robert Smith. Dudley’s campaign slogan made a play on her name: “Dudley Dudley: Congress Congress,” echoing slogans from her reelection campaigns for the Executive Council, “Dudley Dudley, Worth Repeating.” That rebounded when Smith, a staunch conservative, coined his own catchphrase: “Dudley Dudley, Liberal Liberal". From 1987 to 1998, Dudley was Executive Director of the Women Legislators’ Lobby, a national organization of female state legislators who worked with their members of Congress to reduce the federal budget appropriation for military weapons. Dudley is a past overseer of Dartmouth Medical School and past director of the NH Civil Liberties Union. She has served on the boards of the Ella Lyman Cabot Trust, the Greater Piscataqua Community Foundation and RAIN for the Sahel and the Sahara.
Dudley has served as a trustee of the University of New Hampshire and on the board of directors for the UNH Alumni Association. Dudley worked with a group of UNH students to reunite a Congolese family separated when the parents had to flee the country and leave their children behind. She has also worked save the UNH Outdoor Pool, a historic WPA project where generations of Durham families and UNH students have learned to swim and spent time together. Dudley received the Eleanor Roosevelt Award at the New Hampshire Democratic Party’s annual Jefferson Jackson Dinner on November 16, 2013 where she was commended by state Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley for being an outstanding role model for young women looking to make a positive impact in their communities. Each year, the Eleanor Roosevelt Award is presented to a Granite State Democrat who has shown extraordinary commitment to the values of social and economic justice.
- Ferdon, Julie (1999-10-21). "An Oral History Interview with Dudley Dudley". University of Arizona Library, Special Collections. The Morris K. Udall Oral History Project: 11. Retrieved 12/10/2013.
- Nibley, Andrew (12/05/1979). "Dudley Dudley, Political Junkie". The Hour. Retrieved 12/1/2013.
- "UNH Announces 2010 Granite State Award And Honorary Degree Recipients". University of New Hampshire Media Relations. Retrieved 2013-11-30.
- Robinson, J. Dennis (01/06/2013). "How Aristotle Onassis Lost Great Bay". Seacoast NH. Retrieved 2013-11-29.
- Kapochunas, Rachel. "Dudley Not Redundant for Shea-Porter". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 December 2013.
- "Dudley a bipartisan role model". Foster's Daily Democrat. 2013-11-30. Retrieved 12/06/2013.
- "Durham’s Dudley W. Dudley honored for public service". Foster's Daily Democrat. 12/5/2013. Retrieved 12/09/2013.
- Nancy Coffey Heffernan; Ann Page Stecker (2004). New Hampshire: Crosscurrents in Its Development. UPNE. pp. 195–. ISBN 978-1-58465-394-3.
- Felice Belman; Mike Pride (2001). The New Hampshire Century: Concord Monitor Profiles of One Hundred People who Shaped it. UPNE. pp. 271–. ISBN 978-1-58465-087-4.
- Dudley Not Redundant for Shea-Porter
- The Score from New Hampshire, by Gerry Nadel, from Esquire magazine; July, 1974