Karen Shepherd

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Karen F. Shepherd
Karenshepherd.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Utah's 2nd district
In office
January 3, 1993 – January 3, 1995
Preceded by Wayne Owens
Succeeded by Enid Greene
Personal details
Born (1940-07-05) July 5, 1940 (age 75)
Silver City, New Mexico
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Vincent Shepherd
Children 2
Alma mater University of Utah
Brigham Young University

Karen Shepherd (born July 5, 1940) served in the United States House of Representatives from 1993 to 1995.

Early life[edit]

Shepherd was born in Silver City, New Mexico, where her father, Ralph Felker, worked for the U.S. Forest Service. The family soon moved to southern Utah and lived in many small towns throughout Shepherd’s childhood as the Department of Agriculture transferred them from place to place until they settled in Provo where she went to high school. Shepherd earned a B. A. in English from the University of Utah in 1962 and went on to get an M.A in British Literature from Brigham Young University (BYU) 1963.

In 1963 Shepherd married Vincent Shepherd and they moved to Fort Lewis, Washington, where he was an officer in the Army. In Washington, she taught English at Olympic Junior College. Upon her husband’s discharge from the Army, the couple both accepted positions at the American University in Cairo, Egypt, where they lived for two years.

Returning to the U.S and resettling in Utah, the Shepherds had two children, Heather and Dylan. Vincent owned and operated a wholesale oil distributing company and Karen taught Freshman English at Brigham Young University. Shepherd became politically active with the Democratic Party, working for the Senate campaigns of both Wayne Owens and Frank Moss. Shepherd was the first woman ever to serve at cabinet level in Salt Lake County Government when she became Director of Social Services. In 1978, she became co-owner of Network Magazine, which focused on women’s workplace issues, and she soon founded a publishing business, Webster Publishing. In 1988 she sold the business and the magazine and became the Director of Development at the University of Utah’s School of Business. In 1990 Shepherd was elected to the Utah State Senate, taking the place of Frances Farley, who had been at that time the only woman serving in the Utah Senate. She served in the Utah Legislature two years before announcing that she would run to succeed the four-term Democratic incumbent, U.S. Representative Wayne Owens for his seat, after he announced he would not seek re-election but would, instead, run for the U.S. Senate.

U.S. Congresswoman[edit]

Karen Shepherd’s 1992 campaign platform led with a balanced budget, and support for government involvement in health care reform, education, reproductive freedom, and the environment. She put forward a 10-point plan for improving children’s lives that included tracking down delinquent fathers and fully funding Head Start.[1] In the general election she ran against Enid Greene who had been an aide to Utah Governor Norman Bangerter and was a fiscal and social conservative who opposed all of her positions. In a presidential election year when Bill Clinton received only 25 percent of the votes in Utah, Shepherd still managed to win her race by a narrow 50 percent to 47 percent margin becoming the second woman in Utah’s history to be elected to Congress.[2]

Once sworn in to Congress in January 1993, Shepherd was placed on the Natural Resources and the Public Works and Transportation Committees. A leader in the Freshman Caucus, she became co-chair, along with Eric Fingerhut, of the freshman reform effort that prepared legislation to reform lobbying and campaign finance practices. Among many recommendations, they proposed gifts from lobbyists to lawmakers be banned and that Members be barred from chairing more than one committee. She supported President Clinton’s 1993 Budget package that cut the budget and also raised taxes on upper income people. The budget passed by a single vote. “It seems to me it’s not perfect,” Shepherd said of the proposed budget. “But the worst of all of the alternatives is not to pass it, and not move forward to health care, free trade and all of the these things we need to do.”[3] She also supported the Brady Bill and the Assault Weapon Ban. Her willingness to take tough stands in her District and at the same time stand up to her party on issues of reform led one prominent columnist to say just before her election, “But whether Shepherd wins or loses, her stand is a reminder of a formula for successful progressive politics that’s been characteristic of the western states.”[4]

In her 1994 Election Shepherd faced Enid Greene again, however, she was now married and had changed her last name to Waldholtz. There was also a third candidate in the race, an Independent, Merrill Cook. The campaign centered on Shepherd’s votes on the Clinton budget and her support for gun control. Shepherd continued to support health and welfare reform and to speak out in support of what she called reasonable gun reform.[5] Waltholtz ran on “The Contract With America,” originated by Newt Gingrich in Washington D. C. and won the three-way race with 46 percent of the vote to Shepherd’s 36 percent and Cook’s 18 percent.[6]

Post Congressional career[edit]

Immediately upon leaving Congress Karen Shepherd was a Fellow at the Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. In 1995 she served as part of an international delegation to monitor the first elections held on the West Bank and in Gaza. In 1996 President Clinton nominated her to serve as the executive director at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in London, U.K. where she served until 2002. While she was there, she chaired the East West Trade and Investment Forum of the American Chamber of Commerce and became a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Returning to the United States in 2002, she worked as a regional advisor for Emily’s List, served on three corporate boards as well as on the national Planned Parenthood Action Council, and in Utah, served on the boards of Wasatch Homeless Health Care Inc. and the University of Utah’s Humanities Partnership and the David Eccles School of Business.

Electoral history[edit]

Utah's 2nd congressional district: Results 1992–1994[7]
Year Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct
1992 Karen Shepherd 127,738 50% Enid Greene * 118,307 47% A. Peter Crane Independent 6,274 2% *
1994 Karen Shepherd 66,911 36% Enid Greene Waldholtz * 85,507 46% Merrill Cook Independent 34,167 18%
* The same person; Enid Greene married Joe Waldholtz in the interim between the 1992 and 1994 election (and later divorced him, changing her name back). ** Write-in and minor candidate notes: In 1992, Eileen Koschak of the Socialist Workers party received 650 votes.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, ‘Karen Shepherd,” http://bioguide.congress.gov; Politics in America, 1994 (Washing, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly Inc., 1993):1548.
  2. ^ Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, ‘Karen Shepherd,” http://bioguide.congress.gov; ”Election Statistics, 1920 to Present,” http://clerk.house.gov/memberinfo/election/index.aspx(http://clerk.house.gov/member info/electionInfo/index.aspx).
  3. ^ Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, ‘Karen Shepherd,” http://bioguide.congress.gov; Kevin Merida, “For Some House Freshmen, Supporting Clinton is a Balancing Act,” 5 August 1993, Washington Post: A18.
  4. ^ E.J. Dionne, A Winner Either Way,” 11 October 1994, Washington Post: A 17.
  5. ^ Women in Congress: 1917-2006, prepared under the direction of The Committee on House Administration of the u. S. House of Representatives; Vernon J. Ehlers, Chairman, Juanita Millender-McDonald, Ranking Member: U.S. government Printing Office, Washington D.C., 2006; Tony Semerad, “Shepherd Vows She’ll Keep Pushing Change if Re-Elected,” 23 April 1994, Salt Lake Tribune: D3. Dan Harrie. “Shepherd, Waldholtz, Cook Come Out Firing on Gun Control; Candidates Fire Salvos on Gun Control,” 6 October 1994, Salt Lake Tribune: B1.
  6. ^ Women in Congress: 1917-2006, prepared under the direction of The Committee on House Administration of the u. S. House of Representatives; Vernon J. Ehlers, Chairman, Juanita Millender-McDonald, Ranking Member: U.S. government Printing Office, Washington D.C., 2006; ”Election Statistics. 1920 to Present.,” http://clerk.house.gov/members/electionInfo/elections.html.
  7. ^ "Election Statistics". Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. Retrieved 2008-01-10. 

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Wayne Owens
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Utah's 2nd congressional district

1993-1995
Succeeded by
Enid Greene

For Further Reading[edit]

Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, ‘Karen Shepherd,” http://bioguide.congress.gov

Women in Congress: 1917-2006, prepared under the direction of The Committee on House Administration of the u. S. House of Representatives; Vernon J. Ehlers, Chairman, Juanita Millender-McDonald, Ranking Member: U.S. government Printing Office, Washington D.C., 2006.

Former Congresswoman’s Shepherd’s papers are in the Marriott Library Special Collections at the University of Utah, and are open for research. The register can be accessed at http://nwda.orbiscascade.org/ark:/80444/xv11703/op=fstyle.aspx?t=k&q=Shepherd&c=uu. Call (801) 581-8863 for more information.