Location: San Francisco City Hall
Artist: Lisa Reinertson
Dianne Feinstein was elected San Francisco's first female mayor in 1979 and became one of the nation's most visible and recognised leaders. In 1992, when she was elected to the Senate, she and Barbara Boxer became the first female senators from California. She holds many records, including being the oldest sitting U.S. Senator, the longest-tenured female U.S. senator currently serving, and if she serves her current full term until 2025 she will become the longest serving woman Senator in history.
Born in San Francisco, Feinstein graduated from Stanford University in 1955. In the 1960s, she worked in local government in San Francisco. Feinstein was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1969. She served as the board's first female president in 1978, during which time the assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and City Supervisor Harvey Milk by Dan White drew national attention. Feinstein succeeded Moscone as mayor and became the first woman to serve in that position. During her tenure, she led the renovation of the city’s cable car system and oversaw the 1984 Democratic National Convention. Despite a failed recall attempt, Feinstein was a very popular mayor and was named the most effective mayor in the country by City & State in 1987.
After losing a race for governor, Feinstein won a 1992 Special Election to the U.S Senate. The special election was triggered by the resignation of Pete Wilson, who defeated her in the 1990 gubernatorial election. Despite being elected on the same ballot as her peer Barbara Boxer, Feinstein became California's first female U.S. senator, as she was elected in a special election and sworn in before Boxer. She became the state's senior senator when Alan Cranston, retired in January 1993. Feinstein has been re-elected five times and in the 2012 election received 7.86 million votes, the most popular votes in any U.S. Senate election in history.
Feinstein authored the 1994 Federal Assaults Weapon Bans, which expired in 2004. She introduced a new assault weapons bill in 2013 that failed to pass. Feinstein is the first woman to have chaired the Senate Rules Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee, and the first woman to have presided over a U.S presidential inauguration. She was the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee from 2017 to 2021 and had chaired the International Narcotics Control Caucus from 2009 to 2015.
At 89, Feinstein is the oldest sitting U.S. senator and member of Congress. In March 2021, she became the longest-serving U.S. senator from California, surpassing Hiram Johnson. Upon the death of Don Young, she became the oldest sitting member of Congress. Upon Barbara Muluksi’s retirement in January 2017, Feinstein became the longest-tenured female senator in office; on November 5, 2022, she surpassed Mikulski's record as the longest-tenured female senator. With Patrick Leahy’s retirement, she became the senior most Senate Democrat on January 3, 2023. By tradition, this made her eligible for Senate president pro tempore, but she declined the position, which went to Patty Murray instead.
"Women are beginning to feel that they are not fairly represented. As we say 2% may be fine in milk, but not for the United States Senate" - Dianne Feinstein
You can find her her bust, sculpted by Lisa Reinertson in San Francisco City Hall.