Jolene Unsoeld

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Jolene Unsoeld
Jolene Unsoeld.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Washington's 3rd district
In office
January 3, 1989 – January 3, 1995
Preceded by Don Bonker
Succeeded by Linda Smith
Personal details
Born (1931-12-03) December 3, 1931 (age 85)
Corvallis, Oregon
Political party Democratic
Religion Theist

Jolene Unsoeld (born December 3, 1931) is an American politician who served as a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1989 to 1995. She represented the Third congressional district of Washington as a Democrat.

Unsoeld was born Jolene Bishoprick in Corvallis, Oregon, on December 3, 1931. She attended Oregon State University from 1949 to 1951. She is the widow of Willi Unsoeld, a mountaineer and later college professor. Accompanying Willi to the Himalayas, she spent two years as director of the English Language Institute of Kathmandu, Nepal.[1]

Unsoeld spent the 1970s and early 1980s as the conscience of the Washington State Legislature. She was one of the leaders of the campaign for Initiative 276, passed in 1972, which created the Washington Public Disclosure Commission,[2] and required disclosure of campaign contributions by candidates for elective office. She was a citizen lobbyist in support of open government, including open public meetings and open public records.

In 1977 she and Willi became concerned about proposed nuclear power plants, and joined in forming Fair Electric Rates Now (FERN), which was a ratepayer and environmental group that worked for many years opposing utility investment in nuclear energy, encouraging investment in energy conservation, and supporting utility rate design that rewarded consumers who used less power.

In 1984, she ran for the office of state representative, and served two terms in the state legislature prior to running for Congress in 1988.

During her three terms in Congress she worked hardest on the federal Freedom of Information Act, but became best known for her opposition to gun control, although very liberal on other issues. She lost her bid for re-election in the Republican Revolution of 1994 to Linda Smith.

In 2008, the Washington Coalition for Open Government bestowed the James Madison Award on Unsoeld.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Harvard University Institute of Politics - Jolene Unsoeld". Retrieved 2010-09-30. 
  2. ^ "Initiatives to the People - 1914 through 2009". Retrieved 2010-09-30. 
  3. ^ OG-Blog (2008-08-12). "Open-Government Blog: Jolene Unsoeld Awarded James Madison Award". Retrieved 2010-09-30. 

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Don Bonker
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Washington's 3rd congressional district

Succeeded by
Linda Smith