Barbara Mikulski: Paving the way for women in politics

Posted at 5:03 PM, Jan 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-05 17:03:27-05

Barbara Mikulski paved the way for many women in politics.

When she was on the Baltimore City Council back in the 1970's she was one of only three. Those who knew her back in the day, like Baltimore City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, describe Mikulski as a trailblazer.

"She is Miss Feisty. She had to be. She's tiny in stature, but big in her impact on the world," Clarke said. "I was always a great admirer of Senator Mikulski. I had helped out in her campaigns earlier. She took on the establishment."

Little did Mary Pat Clarke know the social worker turned politician would return the favor, helping her overcome a huge stumbling block with the voters when Clarke ran for Baltimore City Council's 2nd district seat in 1975.

"When Mary Pat was going door to door in Hampden people were grouchy," Senator Mikulski said, "They thought she was running against me. I wrote a letter that said dear friend/neighbor this is my friend Mary Pat Clarke she's not running against me. She's my pal. Please vote for her."

Clarke said she would have to explain to people living in Hampden that she was not running against Mikulski. In the end, the endorsement paid off.

"It was a very lively time. I sat right behind her. She was in the first row, 1st district. I was in the second row, 2nd district," Clarke said.

Now, decades later, the senior city council member still holds the utmost respect for our outgoing senior Senator.

"I thought she was a great person that would break glass ceilings for us and do great things for the city as well as for the nation. She never forgot her years in the city council. She was always a council woman when she was in the Congress and in the Senate because she knew the things that really mattered to us here," Clarke said.

Clarke isn't the only woman in politics to sing Mikulski's praises.

"I always just say some people aren't replaceable," Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh said.

Pugh said Senator Mikulski represented the city, state and women well.

"She has paved the way for many of us to rise to leadership, and as myself gets the opportunity to lead the city, she's always been for Baltimore," Pugh said.

Those that know her well, like her friend Mary Pat Clarke, believe Mikulski will continue to represent Baltimore well,

"She's given up one important position, but her position as Baltimore's Barbara will never change and i think we'll see her all the time. I'm not gonna miss her because I'll be looking around the corner for her all the time," Clarke said.

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