She was born in Düsseldorf, Germany. She and her family fled to France some time after Hitler had become chancellor. After Germany invaded France they fled to Spain and eventually moved to New York City in the United States.
She was the first woman to serve as Speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives and was the 49th mayor of Portland from 1993 through 2005. She replaced Bud Clark in 1993 and was replaced by Tom Potter in 2005.
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