Hillary Clinton Attends Dedication Ceremony for Caldecott’s Fourth Bore

(Jeff Heyman, Photographer)
California Rep. Ellen O'Kane Tauscher's new memorial sign greets drivers heading from Orinda toward the Bay.

    For many Bay Area commuters, the Caldecott Tunnel is a familiar sight on their daily drive on Highway 24. Those who drive through the fourth bore, heading westbound from Orinda, will notice a fresh new sign in memoriam of U.S. Representative Ellen O’Kane Tauscher.
    The life and accomplishments of Rep. Tauscher, who represented the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano in Congress from 1997 to 2009, were celebrated at a dedication ceremony for the Caldecott Tunnel’s fourth bore, held Nov. 22 at the Blackhawk Country Club in Danville. Former Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton spoke of her friendship with Tauscher, who died of pneumonia in 2019 at age 67.
    Clinton was one of five speakers at the event, attended by Tauscher’s friends and local dignitaries. Tauscher’s daughter Katie also spoke at the dedication ceremony held in honor of her late mother. Congresswoman Tauscher lobbied for expansion of the Caldecott Tunnel and helped secure $33 million for transportation projects within her district.
    “[Clinton] was very warm, charming, gracious … very grateful to all of the staff,” Blackhawk Country Club’s Executive Director of Club Operations Charles Lewis said. He remarked that Clinton’s participation in the ceremony was “about genuine friendship with Ellen” and that the former First Lady had the crowd laughing as she recalled past interactions with the former congresswoman.
    “It was a wonderful opportunity to recognize Ellen and her contributions to Contra Costa [County],” Orinda’s Mayor Amy Worth said.
    Born in New Jersey in 1951, Tauscher attended Seton Hall University and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in early childhood education in 1972. She was one of the first women to hold a seat on the New York Stock Exchange in her twenties and worked on Wall Street for a total of 14 years.
    In 1980, she created the Tauscher Foundation to help elementary schools in California and Texas buy computer equipment for students. Tauscher made a difference for parents seeking quality childcare by creating the ChildCare Registry in 1992, a national service that verifies the background of childcare workers.
    Tauscher’s platform as a U.S. Representative included gun control, women’s right to abortion and increased spending on education. During her 1996 campaign against incumbent California Republican William P. Baker, Tauscher noted that she stood for “moderation and common sense.”
    Rep. Tauscher held a seat on the Armed Services Committee in Congress, as well as assignments in the Transportation Committee and Science Committee. She supported the adoption of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which prohibits any nuclear explosion or test explosion anywhere in the world. Tauscher supported cutting taxes, such as the “marriage penalty” tax and estate tax, but opposed the George W. Bush administration’s proposed 2001 tax cut, passed by Congress.
    Tauscher also served as state co-chair for Senator Dianne Feinstein’s successful 1992 and 1994 campaigns, and, in 2009, was appointed by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International 
    Tauscher played a pivotal role negotiating an arms agreement with Russia, closing negotiations on the New START Treaty in 2010. She served in the Under Secretary position until resigning on Feb. 6, 2012, and was subsequently sworn in as a U.S Department of State special envoy for strategic stability and missile defense.
    Tauscher was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 2010, defeating it after a two-year battle.
    “She was negotiating up to the end,” Mayor Worth said of Tauscher.
    Worth recalls Tauscher’s efforts to secure federal money for Orinda’s downtown streets after the establishment of the city’s new library in 2001, making the area more easily walkable. It was the beginning of the streetscape movement for cities to provide a multi-use street open to cars and pedestrians and said, “Ellen helped us get that funding.”
    Tauscher accomplished a lot in terms of securing transportation funding for Contra Costa County, said Worth.
    Rep. Tauscher established strong relationships during her time in Congress and “could reach across the aisle and get things done,” said Worth.
    She forged partnerships among the local, state and federal levels of government and energized women in Orinda to become engaged for the first time to support a candidate like herself in Congress, Mayor Worth said.
    Worth remembered Tauscher’s great sense of humor, talents in public speaking and inspiring role as a woman in Congress, saying that it was wonderful to hear good regards and stories from Clinton and Sen. Feinstein at the dedication ceremony. Both were good friends of Tauscher, said Worth, and they spoke very warmly in remembrance of her, with Clinton reiterating the California Representative’s love for her district.
    Mayor Worth called Tauscher a mentor for working women.
    “She was a great role model, a real inspiration as a woman in Congress,” she said.

Andrea Madison can be reached at drea.madison.05@gmail.com.

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