Jackie Speier


Jackie Speier : biography

May 14, 1950 –

Congressional aide

Speier served as a congressional staffer for Congressman Leo Ryan. Speier was part of the November 1978 fact-finding mission to investigate allegations of human rights abuses by the Reverend Jim Jones and his Peoples Temple followers, almost all of whom were American citizens who had moved to Jonestown, Guyana, with Jones in 1977 and 1978. Speier was one of only two members of the mission who were concerned enough about potential violence to make out a will before traveling to Jonestown., MAY 15, 1979 Several Peoples Temple members ambushed the investigative team and others boarding the plane to leave Jonestown on November 18. Five people died, including Congressman Ryan. While attempting to shield herself from rifle and shotgun fire behind small airplane wheels with the other members of the team, Speier was shot five times and waited 22 hours before help arrived. The murder of Congressman Ryan was the only assassination of a Congressman in the line of duty in the history of the United States.Jeff Brazil, , Los Angeles Times, December 16, 1999 That same day, over 900 of the remaining members of the Peoples Temple died in Jonestown and Georgetown.

Political career

San Mateo County

Speier’s political career began with an unsuccessful run to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Congressman Ryan (the seat she holds now). She lost the Democratic primary to another former Ryan staffer, G.W. "Joe" Holsinger, who went on to lose to the Republican candidate, San Mateo County Supervisor Bill Royer.

Speier won her first election in 1980, when she ran for the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors and defeated a 20-year incumbent. At the time, she was the youngest person ever elected to the board. She was reelected in 1984, and was later selected as chairwoman.

California State Assembly

In 1986, midway through her second term on the Board of Supervisors, she ran for the California State Assembly from a district in northern San Mateo County. She won by a few hundred votes. She was reelected five more times, the last as the nominee of both the Democratic and Republican parties.

California State Senate

California state term limits forced Speier to give up her Assembly seat in 1996, but in 1998 she was elected to the California State Senate. In 2002, she was elected to a second term with 78.2% of the vote., accessed February 15, 2008, at web.archive.org As a state senator, Speier was instrumental in securing $127 million funding for major service improvements to Caltrain, for which the commuter rail agency named a new locomotive (no. 925) for her. Speier also focused on representing consumer rights. Senator Speier was termed out of the California State Senate in 2006. Speier served as assistant president pro tempore of the California State Senate during her last term.

Candidate for Lieutenant Governor of California

In 2006, Speier ran in the Democratic primary for Lieutenant governor of California against insurance commissioner John Garamendi and state senator Liz Figueroa. At the June 6, 2006, elections, Speier was defeated by Garamendi in a close race. Garamendi received 42.9%, Speier received 39.3%, and Figueroa received the remaining 17.8% of the vote.

2008 presidential campaign

Speier endorsed Hillary Clinton’s bid for president. at National Names DataBase.

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives

On January 13, 2008, Speier announced she was running for the House seat being vacated by 14-term representative Tom Lantos, who announced on January 2, 2008, that he was not seeking re-election. Speier had spent much of 2007 building support to challenge Lantos in the Democratic primary.

On January 17, 2008, Lantos endorsed Speier as his successor. She also picked up endorsements from Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, Congressman Mike Thompson and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Lantos died February 11, 2008. Speier won a special primary election on April 8, 2008, to fill the remainder of his term, which ended in January 2009. She won an outright majority, avoiding a runoff that would have been held on June 3, coinciding with the regular primary election., accessed February 15, 2008 Speier easily won the Democratic primary on June 3. The 12th is so heavily Democratic that this virtually assured her of a full term. She was elected to a full term in November with 75 percent of the vote.

On July 11, 2008, Speier introduced her first bill, the Gasoline Savings and Speed Limit Reduction Act, which would set a national speed limit of 60 mph in urban areas and 65 mph on less-populated stretches of highway.


Speier was born in 1950 in San Francisco, and grew up in an apolitical, working-class family, the daughter of Nancy (née Kanchelian) and Manfred "Fred" Speier.http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/sfgate/obituary.aspx?pid=159673775 Her mother was of Armenian descent, while her father left Germany (Speier’s paternal grandfather had been Jewish).http://www.jweekly.com/article/full/33920/faces/ Speier took Jacqueline as her confirmation name after Jackie Kennedy. She is a graduate of Mercy High School in Burlingame, which is where her daughter attended as a freshman in the 2008–2009 school year. She earned a B.A. from the University of California, Davis, and a J.D. from the University of California Hastings College of the Law in 1976.

Speier’s first husband, Dr. Steve Sierra, died in a car accident in 1994 at the age of 53. At the time, she was two months pregnant with their second child, a daughter named Stephanie., November 16, 2003, San Francisco Chronicle. They also had a son, Jackson Kent, to whom Speier gave birth in 1988 at National Names DataBase. while she was serving as a member of the California State Assembly, the first woman in that legislature to do so. Speier then supported her children as a widowed mother before marrying Barry Dennis, an investment consultant, in 2001., biography page at 2008 campaign website.