Renfroe who assume that the “little Rose” bit is just a pose. She may have, as her enemies assert, the bite of a cobra, but she also has genuine, 24-karat charm. IT’S HARD to figure out where she gets her grit. As a general rule, female achievers have either very strong mothers or fathers who expect a good deal of them. But Renfroe, 32,, a native of Dallas, comes close to describing her parents as mousy. They were Polish, strict with her, and in the restaurant business. They were also apolitical and she says they never registered to vote. She has two brothers and doubts that either of them is registered to this good day. She once told a reporter that she was a “kind of introvert” as a child, and “quiet and meek” in grade school. She quit school to get married at 16, which probably accounts for the occasional weakness in her grammar. She is given to unusual forms of the past tense, as in, “has wrote” and “is broke up.” On her, it’s cute. She married James Renfroe, an electrician, and they -seem to have had a fairly rough time in the beginning. She had two children by the time she was 19 and she worked to help the family scrape by. James seems to be an unusually supportive husband: she several times referred to the help he offered, not only in her political races, but also during the frantic two and a half years she took to speed through college with staggering credit loads. She worked here and there in the early years of her marriage Sears, Westinghouse always in low-level positions. The beginnings of her interest in politics came when she got a job as secretary-bookkeeper at the office of the Dallas AFL-CIO Council; She had never had any interest in politics before, but she enjoyed what she saw of it at the AFL office, “seeing the politicians up close,” and hearing strategy plotted. In an effort to analyze the source of her late-blooming ambition, she spoke vaguely of “motivation and dedication” and then . suddenly plumped out with, “I wanted to be something more than a secretary in my life. I just wanted to be something more than a secretary. It’s funny, I used to be a darn good typist, but now I can’t. I did do all my own typing in the campaign, designed the brochures and the envelopes, did everything myself. But now, I don’t type. I think it’s not wanting to be a secretary.” In fact, she wants to be a lawyer, an ambition that probably stems from her own involvement in legal proceedings. In 1970, Renfroe was fired from her job at the AFL Council by its president, Gene Freeland. She says he wrongly suspected her of conspiring with some of his enemies in the labor movement. He says it was because she was a poor worker and wouldn’t take orders. There was a good deal of gossip about it ‘amongst labor folk at the time, most of it thoroughly unpleasant. Renfroe knows she is gossiped about. She says during her campaign this spring against incumbent Councilman Charles Storey, some of Storey’s people went so far as to spread the rumor that she was a prostitute. The campaigns in which she has been involved have been fairly vicious, although her opponents claim Renfroe gave as good as she got. It is a symptom of her political naivet \(she’s a natural, but needs said about her. Nothing as good for reviving a rumor as repeating it. But her pain and outrage over these lies goes very deep: she is vulnerable and that is part of her appeal. She returned several times to the subject of how mean politics can be, how she is continually astonished by how rough it can get. But she fights back. In 1970, she fought back by filing a grievance against Freeland and she eventually won reinstatement with back pay. However, she was pregnant at the time she was fired and the AFL deducted what would have been her maternity leave and the unemployment insurance they had paid for her. Renfroe just thought that wasn’t right and wasn’t fair and you have to stand up for what’ you think is right, so she tried filing an EEOC suit on the maternity question. But the AFL council turned out to be unsueable under EEOC because it has less than 15 employees \(something else Renfroe doesn’t think is So she wound up suing the office employees union for not having represented her well enough. She won, but the case is on appeal before the 5th Circuit Court. Sense of humor is not Renfroe’s strong point, but she does see the irony in having her case before the 5th Circuit. “Hope they haven’t been listening to the way I’ve been blasting ’em on the busing,” she said. At one particularly unhappy point in this hassle, after her reinstatement, Renfroe claims that Freeland roared out an office into a hallway and, encountering her, called her a bitch and attempted to strike her. She says her husband insisted she file a charge of aggravated assault, which she did. Freeland was arrested, but she later dropped the charge. BY SEPTEMBER of 1971, out of a job and with a baby six months old, Renfroe started back to school. She says she had originally planned to get a secretarial job with a law firm and just study law, but then she found out you have to have a college degree. So she went out and got one. She carried a whacking load her first semester, made all A’s, “and after I found out I could do it, I never looked back.” She graduated from Dallas Baptist College, cum laude. She took time out in 1972 to run against Paul Ragsdale for a legislative seat. She lost and is not fond of Ragsdale. In 1974, she was campaign manager for Utah Kirk, a black conservative who ran against Ragsdale. He lost and she became even less fond of Ragsdale. This spring, she took on Storey. “The Establishment played a lot rougher than Ragsdale and them ever did,” she said. She was wildly underrated as a candidate and when she came within 18 votes of beating Storey without a runoff, it was the political sensation of the season. The Dallas press fell all over itself trying to account for her unexpected showing. Ron Calhoun of the Dallas Times-Herald said she was “the crest of the anti-Establishment wave.” Storey was backed by the Citizens Charter Association, the political arm of the Dallas Establishment, which means that he had enough money to run a good campaign. “But dollars don’t vote and signs don’t vote,” says Renfroe. Her district is Oak Cliff, a dog’s breakfast of an area generally considered working class redneck. It’s far more complex than that, however, and includes enclaves of wealthy folk, professional folk, and poor folk, both black and white. Renfroe carried the runoff with 56 percent of the vote and even took the black precincts. She says that most of her workers were teenage friends of her children, called the “pizza Mafia” because that’s what she paid them pizzas. She ran against the Establishment and against busing. Renfroe’s “real good friend” is Kathy Carter, the head of an outfit called Citizens for Neighborhood Schools. Renfroe is a regular speaker at CNS’s anti-busing rallies. She lives in an integrated neighborhood and her children attend an says, “The issue is not black versus white, or liberal versus .conservative, or chicano versus Anglo; it is an issue of right versus wrong, and forced busing is wrong, very wrong.” She sticks to that position like a limpet. If you suggest to her that a thousand citizens of Boston standing in front of South High screaming “nigger, nigger, nigger” are perhaps motivated by what is sometimes called racism, she just tells you again that there is no racism in Sept. 19, 19 75 3 41044….** 40010.4,
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