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Book details
  • Genre:BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY
  • SubGenre:Political
  • Language:English
  • Pages:764
  • Format:Paperback
  • Paperback ISBN:9781543915709

Quite a Life!

From Defeat to Defeat ... and Back

by Carol Schwartz

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Overview
After graduating from the University of Texas in 1965, Carol Schwartz, born in Mississippi and raised in Midland, Texas, visited Washington, D.C and fell in love with the city. She was due to be married in Austin in January and starting a job teaching special education. Instead, that January, she moved to D.C. As she says, “A magnetic pull drew me there.” Her journey took her into the dynamic world of politics. Then a Republican in a city where Democrats made up nearly 80% of voters, she ran for Mayor and nearly beat Marion Barry in 1994 in the closest Mayoral general election ever. In Quite A Life!: From Defeat to Defeat … and Back, Carol talks about growing up in the poor section of town with very few Jews. She started working at eight in the small family store, and cared for her beloved older and only sibling Johnny, who was intellectually disabled. She was often the target of a brilliant but full-of-rage father. Carol also describes life with her three kids and husband, who suffered from severe depression, but became a very successful attorney until his tragic death when the children were teenagers. Carol was elected to the Board of Education in 1974 and the D.C. Council in 1984. She was known to be outspoken, an ethical watchdog, and an effective advocate for making government work. A 50-year community volunteer, her passion for the city drove her to run for Mayor several times despite the odds. But she picked herself up after defeat—as her tough childhood had trained her to do. Now an Independent and always a straight-shooter, Carol talks about her life with characteristic candor and her opinions with unbridled honesty—usually with humor. As Carol says, “This is not a sugar-coated synopsis of a life, but a frank personal autobiography—with pictures galore—that talks about the history of D.C. since Home Rule, takes you behind the scenes of chaotic campaigns and the inner-workings of government.” It’s a journey of wins and defeats, and coming back with hope.
Description

After graduating from the University of Texas in 1965, Carol Schwartz, born in Mississippi and raised in Midland, Texas, visited Washington, D.C. She was due to be married in Austin in January and had a job teaching special education there. After a very tough childhood, a happier, less stressful life stood before her. But things changed—with Carol doing the changing. As she puts it, “A magnetic pull drew me to D.C.” Carol began a journey that took her away from the familiar to D.C. and the dynamic world of local politics. Then a Republican in a city where Democrats made up nearly 80% of voters, she ran for Mayor and nearly beat Marion Barry in 1994 in the closest Mayoral election in the city’s history.

In Quite A Life: From Defeat to Defeat … and Back, Carol talks about growing up on the poor side of the tracks in that small West Texas town, where she was made to work starting from age eight in the family store. There were only a few Jewish families and some prejudice. Carol was often responsible, beginning at age six, for caring for her beloved older brother and only sibling Johnny, who was intellectually disabled. And sadly, she was also the target of a brilliant but full-of-rage father.

Carol describes life with her own family—her three kids and husband David, who suffered from severe depression. But despite that, he went from being a child of a limited-means family with student loans to becoming one of the more successful attorneys in a city made up of them. Depression, though, and Jack Daniels ultimately caused David’s tragic death when the children were teenagers.

Although wounded from her childhood, she leapt over ongoing insecurity and fear to run for the D.C. Board of Education in 1974, where she became an outspoken member and leader. Carol fought against the tide to help create Banneker Academic High School and usher in educational reforms 40 years ago when it was unfashionable and took lots of courage to do it—and which led to test scores increasing.

On the D.C. Council starting in 1985, she was a lone voice against bloated budgets that eventually led the city to the financial brink. Carol became an ethical watchdog in a government that too often battled corruption. Spotting government sweetheart deals, she helped root them out as a guardian of taxpayer dollars. And she spearheaded the unanimous passage of sick and safe leave for private sector workers, making D.C. the second jurisdiction in the country to have it. In doing so, she went from being a best friend of business to being viciously targeted by that community. Her passion for the city and its residents inspired her to run for Mayor several times in spite of the odds. But she picked herself up after defeat—as her tough childhood had trained her to do—and kept on … All the while she championed wins on behalf of the city and its residents in her continuing Council career.

Community responsibility has been a lifelong clarion call for Carol. She has volunteered to battle for people with HIV/AIDS and other marginalized groups, and served for nearly two decades on the Board of the Whitman-Walker Clinic, which was at the forefront of that crisis. She became the first woman president of the Metropolitan Police Boys and Girls Clubs in its 61-year history. Her volunteer work of 50 years has touched many people, animals and organizations, and continues.

Now an Independent and always a straight-shooter, Carol talks about her life with characteristic candor and her opinions with unbridled honesty—and usually with humor. As Carol says, “If you want someone to give you a sugar-coated synopsis of a life, go elsewhere. But if you want an outspoken personal autobiography—with pictures galore—that also talks about the history of D.C. since Home Rule, gives you behind-the-scenes accounts of chaotic campaigns, as well as the inner-workings of government—all rolled together—come on this ride with me.” It’s a journey of wins and defeats, and coming back with hope.

About the author

Carol Schwartz was an elected official in Washington, D.C spanning four decades. Though a Republican then, where the voter registration was against her 11 to 1, she ran for Mayor, coming close to defeating Marion Barry in 1994—still the closest Mayoral general election in the city’s history. (She has been a registered Independent since 2013.)

Carol has received many awards, including the National Capital Area Leadership Award from the Human Rights Campaign, the Whitney M. Young Award for Community Service from the Greater Washington Urban League, and the Three Decades of Leadership Award from the Metropolitan Washington Area Council of Governments.

Born in Greenville, Mississippi, but raised in Midland, Texas, Carol's family was Jewish—a rarity in that town where there was some prejudice. In West Texas, she worked starting at age eight in the family store that sold clothes to people who toiled in the oil fields. She also helped care for her only sibling, her older brother Johnny who was intellectually disabled.

A graduate of the University of Texas in 1965, Carol visited D.C. that summer and fell in love with the city. Thus, in January of 1966, she left both a job and fiancé in Austin and took off for Washington. She taught special education, married, had children, and was elected to the Board of Education in 1974. There she helped create Banneker Academic High School as well as helped bring about reforms that raised test scores.

Then in 1984, Carol got elected to the Council of the District of Columbia where she served from 1985 until 2009 (with a break in between after her husband’s tragic death), Carol worked diligently to make changes for the better in the city. Some examples include: creating the Department of the Environment, giving relief to overtaxed residents, getting the nation’s strongest tree protection bill passed, and spearheading sick and safe leave for private sector workers—making D.C. the second jurisdiction in the country to do so.

An ethical watchdog, Carol made sure D.C.’s Whistleblower Protection Law was the toughest in the nation. She unearthed and stopped government “sweetheart deals” and personally renegotiated contracts, saving millions, earning her the title of “Best Friend of the D.C. Taxpayer” from the Washington City Paper. Carol has been a 50-year volunteer in D.C., tutoring students in Anacostia, counseling substance abusers, fighting for people with HIV/AIDS and other marginalized groups, providing safe activities for kids, helping to protect animals, and promoting the arts, among other causes. She was the first woman President of the Board of the Metropolitan Police Boys and Girls Clubs in its 61-year history, and has served on the Boards of the Whitman-Walker Clinic, the Humane Rescue Alliance, the Hattie M. Strong Foundation, the Community Advisory Board of the Kennedy Center, and the National Council of the National Museum of the American Indian, to name a few.

Carol has also had several opportunities to contribute in areas involving the federal government, including appointments by two Presidents and a Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education. She has also been active in helping people, especially women, both here and abroad, become more involved in their political systems, Carol has done volunteer training for prominent organizations in this regard as well as held fundraisers for groups such as the Women's Campaign Fund.

A mother of three adult children, all D.C. Public School graduates, Carol also has two adorable and exceptional grandchildren, and many precious grandpets.

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