Marian Bergeson

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Marian Bergeson
Member of the California State Senate
In office
December 3, 1984 – January 3, 1995
Preceded byPaul B. Carpenter (37th)
John Lewis (35th)
Succeeded byDavid G. Kelley (37th)
Ross Johnson (35th)
Constituency37th (1984-1992)
35th (1992-1995)
Member of the California State Assembly
In office
December 4, 1978 – November 30, 1984
Preceded byRonald Cordova (74th)
John Lewis (70th)
Succeeded byRobert C. Frazee (74th)
Gil Ferguson (70th)
Constituency74th (1978-1982)
70th (1982-1984)
Personal details
Born(1925-08-31)August 31, 1925
Salt Lake City, Utah
DiedJuly 6, 2016(2016-07-06) (aged 90)
Newport Beach, California
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Garth Bergeson (m. 1950)
ChildrenNancy, Garth Jr., Julie, James

Marian C. Bergeson (August 31, 1925 – July 6, 2016) was an American Republican politician from California. The first woman ever to serve in both the California State Assembly and California State Senate, she was a member of the California State Legislature from 1978 to 1995, a member of the Orange County Board of Supervisors from 1995 to 1996, and California State Secretary of Education from 1996 to 1999. In 1986, Marian Bergeson Elementary School in Laguna Niguel was named after her.

Early life and family[edit]

Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, Bergeson earned a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from Brigham Young University. A resident of Newport Beach, California, Bergeson and her husband, Garth, had four children (Nancy, Garth Jr., Julie, and James) and eleven grandchildren. Her daughter Nancy was an attorney in Portland, Oregon, before her murder in 2009.[1]

Bergeson was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.[2]

Political career[edit]

Elected to the Newport-Mesa Unified School District Board of Education in 1964, she was reelected to the board in 1968, 1972, and 1976. In 1978, Bergeson won 74% of the vote to be elected as California State Assemblywoman for the 74th Assembly District. In 1980, she won 74% of the vote in a three-way race to be re-elected to her seat. In 1982, she again won 74% of the vote for re-election after her district was renumbered as the 70th Assembly District after the 1980s redistricting.

Bergeson made history in 1984 by becoming the first woman to have won election as both a California State Assemblymember and State Senator after she won 74% of the vote to be elected as California State Senator for the 37th Senate District. Bergeson was reelected in 1988 with 71% of the vote in a three-way race.

In 1990, Bergeson ran for Lieutenant Governor of California. The winner of the 1990 election for Lieutenant Governor was poised to make history, as Bergeson would have been the first woman to be Lieutenant Governor while incumbent Leo T. McCarthy would have been the first Lieutenant Governor to win a third term. Bergeson was unable to unseat the incumbent McCarthy, losing by a margin of 51%-42%.

Bergeson was elected to her third term as a State Senator in 1992, winning 62.2% of the vote in a three-way race in her district after it was partially redrawn and renumbered the 35th District in the 1990s redistricting.

In 1994, Bergeson won more than 98% of the vote to win election as an Orange County Supervisor, representing the 5th District.

Bergeson resigned from her supervisorial seat in 1996 when she was appointed by Governor Pete Wilson as California Secretary of Education. In 1999, outgoing Republican Governor Wilson and incoming Democratic Governor Gray Davis agreed to appoint Bergeson to the California State Board of Education.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Bergeson to a four-year term on the California Transportation Commission in 2004 and reappointed her for a second term in 2008.

Bergeson died at the age of 90 due to complications from surgery for pancreatic cancer at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach, California.[3][4][5]


  1. ^ Russell, Michael (November 25, 2009). "Assistant U.S. public defender found slain in SW Portland home". The Oregonian. Retrieved 26 November 2009.
  2. ^ Mormons today article on Bergeson
  3. ^ Graham, Jordan (July 6, 2016). "Marian Bergeson first woman to serve in both state Senate and Assembly dies at 90". Orange County Register.
  4. ^ Chan, Alex (July 6, 2016). "Newport's Marian Bergeson, first woman to serve in both Senate and Assembly, dies". Daily Pilot/Los Angeles Times.
  5. ^ Walters, Dan (July 6, 2016). "Marian Bergeson, first woman to serve in both legislative houses, dies". Sacramento Bee.

External links[edit]

California Assembly
Preceded by
Ronald Cordova
California State Assemblymember
74th District
December 4, 1978 – November 30, 1982
Succeeded by
Robert C. Frazee
Preceded by
John R. Lewis
California State Assemblymember
70th District
December 6, 1982 – November 30, 1984
Succeeded by
Gil Ferguson
California Senate
Preceded by
Paul B. Carpenter
California State Senator
37th District
December 3, 1984 – November 30, 1992
Succeeded by
David G. Kelley
Preceded by
John R. Lewis
California State Senator
35th District
December 7, 1992 – January 3, 1995
Succeeded by
Ross Johnson
Political offices
Preceded by
Thomas F. Riley
Orange County Supervisor
5th District
January 3, 1995 – November 5, 1996
Succeeded by
Thomas W. Wilson
Preceded by
Maureen DiMarco
California Secretary of Education
Succeeded by
Gary K. Hart