Illinois Democratic politics has recently produced the most skilled and inspirational politician in memory . . . and has also reminded us of the need for further reform. It is fitting, then, that the latest installment of the Chicago Lives series turns to Dawn Clark Netsch, a leading reformer of Illinois politics since the 1950s and the first woman major party nominee for governor of Illinois.
Netsch was a pioneer, or the first of her gender, in almost every endeavor she undertook. From the very beginning of her career, when she led the move to desegregate Northwestern University's undergraduate dorms, her passion for social justice extended beyond the rights of women to rights for racial minorities and those of all sexual orientations. Bowman charts Dawn Clark Netsch's remarkable political career, from her work behind the scenes as assistant to Governor Otto Kerner and as a participant in the 1970 Constitutional Convention to her later service in elected office, first as Illinois state senator for eighteen years and later as Illinois comptroller, and culminating in her historic run for governor in 1994. Throughout, Netsch lost neither her genteel yet unpretentious demeanor, nor her passion for progressive politics as exemplified by her early mentor, Governor Adlai E. Stevenson.