Mardi Wormhoudt

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Mardi Wormhoudt

Template:TOCnestleft Mardi Wormhoudt (1937-2009) was a socialist politician in Santa Cruz, California. Her husband, landscape architect Ken Wormhoudt, died in 1997.[1]

Early life

Born Mardi Rolfs in Wisconsin, Wormhoudt came to Santa Cruz in the mid-1970s, having moved with her husband Ken and her children from Southern California, where she served as a social worker during the late 1960s. She had been active in the civil rights and anti-war movements of the time.[2]


Mardi Wormhoudt graduated with High Honors in Philosophy from California State University at Los Angeles, June 1967.[3]


  • 1967 to 1969, Case Worker, Los Angeles Department of Social Services.
  • 1971 to 1973, Project Director, Martin Luther King Center, Pasadena California; developed and managed programs in the areas of education and housing advocacy for low income people.
  • 1973 to 1981, Small business owner in Pasadena and Santa Cruz, California; provided consulting services to architects and interior designers and full service projects for business and residential clients.
  • November 1981 to November 1990, City Council Member, City of Santa Cruz. Three time Mayor, 1984-85, 1988-89, 1989-90.
  • February 1992 to February 1993, Director of the Solidarity Committee, Santa Cruz Central Labor Council and Monterey/Santa Cruz Building Trades Council; responsible for initiating economic development projects and developing legislative strategies to benefit organized labor.
  • March 1992 to December 1994, President and Chief Executive Officer, Santa Cruz Community Credit Union; responsible for 19 million dollar financial institution with 6,300 members and 30 employees.
  • January 1995 to late 2000s, Santa Cruz County Supervisor, Third District. Chair - 1997[4]

Santa Cruz politics

Progressives came up with two ideal candidates to add to the two New American Movement members, Mike Rotkin and Bruce Van Allen - Mardi Wormhoudt and John Laird. Mardi Wormhoudt, was an activist in the downtown neighbors group, a member of local feminist groups, and a participant in efforts to bring a publicly financed health care facility to the west side of Santa Cruz. She would go on to be a major figure in Santa Cruz politics for the next 25 years, retiring as chair of the county board of supervisors in 2006.[5]

Wormhoudt and John Laird were both members of the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee[6].

Remembering Hugh DeLacy

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On September 6 1986 a memorial for Hugh DeLacy was held at the Louden Nelson Center, Santa Cruz, California.

Mardi Wormhoudt was the presenter, speakers included Margaret DeLacy, Jack Berman, Hon. Leon Panetta, John McTernan, Gary Patton, songs by Mike Rotkin, readings by Leon Papernow and Linda Bergholdt, a letter from Greta Davis and songs by Steve Turner and Terry Turner[7].

Radical travelling

Mardi Wormhoudt was delegate, Let Nicaragua Live Tour for the Coalition for Nicaragua, 1986.

She was also a delegate, Sister City Delegation to Alushta, USSR, 1987[8].

Congressional endorsements

When Democratic Socialists of America member Mardi Wormhoudt ran for Board of Supervisors in 2002, she was endorsed by local Congressmenbers Sam Farr and Anna Eshoo;

Ask the folks who have endorsed my candidacy, including almost every union in Santa Cruz County, the People's Democratic Club, the Democratic Women's Club, UCSC Democrats, the Green Party, Vote the Coast, BAYMEC, the GLBT Alliance, Congressmembers Sam Farr and Anna Eshoo, Assemblymember Fred Keeley, County Sheriff Mark Tracy, the Deputy Sheriff's Association, all of my colleagues on the Board of Supervisors, and five of the current City Council members, to name a few... [9]

Sam Farr tribute

When Mardi Wormhoudt died in 2009, Sam Farr, and Anna Eshoo paid tribute to her in the Congressional Record;

HON. SAM FARR of California, House of Representatives Friday, November 6, 2009
Mr. FARR. Madam Speaker, I rise today, with my colleague Anna Eshoo to honor the memory of a great woman and model citizen, Mardi Wormhoudt. Mardi passed away October 21, 2009 in her Santa Cruz home at the age of 72. Mardi was an influential politician, a loving mother and wife, and a dedicated friend.
Mardi was born October 1, 1937 in Wisconsin. She graduated with honors from California State University at Los Angeles in 1967. During the late 1960's and early 1970's, Mardi worked as a caseworker for the Los Angeles Department of Social Services, as well as a project director for the Martin Luther King Center in Pasadena. During this time, Mardi and her husband Ken, the love of her life, started a family with the birth of their children: Zachary, Jonathon, Jacob and Lisa.
In the mid 1970's, Mardi moved her family to Santa Cruz and by 1981 she was an elected official. She was soon Santa Cruz County's leading female official. She is best known for her time as Mayor when she helped lead Santa Cruz through the tragic Loma Prieta earthquake. We all remember the iconic image of her briefing President Bush, Representative Panetta, State Senator Mello, Assemblyman Farr against the backdrop of destruction along Pacific Avenue. Mardi helped keep the spirits of citizens high, and encouraged the city to unite in rebuilding efforts. In total, Mardi dedicated twenty-one years to public office. Mardi will also be forever remembered for her dedication to women's rights, environmental protection, and a firm belief in local economic growth. Mardi was also an advocate for those who were marginalized and overlooked.

Mardi was constantly active in the community as a member of a plethora of groups, including: The Santa Cruz City School District and the Santa Cruz AIDS project. She also received a vast stable of awards, including: The People's Democratic Club Woman of the Year 1988 and the 1991 nomination by then Assemblyman Sam Farr for The California State Assembly Woman of the Year. Those who were close friends of Mardi will especially remember her for her veracity, playful humor, hard-working personality, loyalty, and devotion to family.

Madam Speaker, we know as co-representatives of Santa Cruz County that we speak for the entire House when we extend our deepest sympathies to her family, and our deepest appreciation for the work she did to make her community and the world a better place.