REGION — In a local celebration of Women’s History Month, California Assembly Speaker Emeritus Toni Atkins on March 18 honored the accomplishments and contributions of more than two dozen area women, including three from North County San Diego.
Posthumously recognized was Margaret Schlesinger, the first mayor of Solana Beach, who passed away Feb. 9 at the age of 80.
Described by many as an environmentalist, Schlesinger is considered a key figure in shaping the growth of the county’s second smallest city before, during and after its incorporation in 1986.
Following her years in elected office she remained active in civic affairs, never hesitating to voice her opinions during City Council meetings, even on controversial topics.
Schlesinger’s daughter Ann Garrett was on hand to accept the recognition certificate on her mother’s behalf.
Peggy Walker, also from Solana Beach, was honored for her tireless efforts to promote healthy lifestyles and fight drug use by working with organizations such as the San Dieguito Alliance for Drug Free Youth.
Walker said she is a bit embarrassed by the recognition because she doesn’t feel like she did “anything outstanding.”
“I haven’t done any scientific research or headed up a major company,” she said. “I’ve lived here a long time and I love this community. I want to keep it a wonderful place to live.”
Walker, who has lived in the Solana Beach/Del Mar area for 35 years, said she used to write a lot of grant applications for the Solana Beach and San Dieguito school districts for tobacco-use prevention education programs.
“It was rewarding to be able to continue to educate people and do innovative things,” she said. “That led to working with the San Dieguito Alliance.”
Through the years she said she saw tobacco use decrease and marijuana use skyrocket.
“That was horrifying,” Walker said. “It’s like they gave up one for the other. So I continue to advocate to keep the community drug free so parents can raise drug-free children.”
She was one of many people who successfully lobbied the Del Mar Fairgrounds board of directors to make the annual San Diego County Fair smoke-free a few years ago.
More recently she urged Solana Beach council members in December to prohibit marijuana cultivation and delivery in the city.
Rosanne Holliday, a Del Mar resident since 1968, is president of the Holliday Family Foundation and a professor emerita from Southwestern College, where she once risked being fired for bringing her baby to work.
She helped found a nursery school at Rady Children’s Hospital, served as board president of the local Planned Parenthood and is a founding member of Women Give San Diego, which advocates for the economic self-sufficiency and security of low-income women and girls in San Diego County.
She is active with the Del Mar Foundation and Del Mar Community Connections. Following the 2012 massacre of 20 elementary school students and six adult staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut she lobbied to stop gun shows at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.
“These are extraordinary women doing extraordinary things and we want their efforts to be acknowledged,” Atkins said. “That’s why I’m so pleased to celebrate Women’s History Month by recognizing … all of our honorees for their generous contributions to our local communities.”