A blast from the past: Ladies behind the leaders

This 2008 photo shows three of the first ladies of York County. From left: Adrienne Brenner, Wanda Waugh and Tracy Depasquale, whose husband was sworn in as auditor general earlier this month (Photo by Jason Plotkin).

Eugene DePasquale of West Manchester Township was sworn in as Pennsylvania’s 51st auditor general earlier this month. This story, featuring his wife Tracey, appeared in the fall 2008 issue of Smart.

By NANCY POSTER
for Smart

Barack Obama and John McCain will spend the coming months campaigning as much as possible before the Nov. 4 general election.

And their wives will be by their sides, or at least nearby.

Some people might overlook a wife’s role in her husband’s success.

But some area women have a different point of view.

They are the wives of local leaders.

A few shared their perspectives:

What is it like at your house during an election year?

Adrienne Brenner: “He’s not here.” When he’s campaigning, John Brenner is gone from January through May. After the primary, “I might see him for a couple of weeks,” she said.

Tracey DePasquale: Because the county Democratic Party picked her husband to replace Steve Stetler just three months before the election, the family hasn’t experienced the rigors of an extensive campaign.

Wanda Waugh:
“Hectic,” she said, adding the couple spends their time poring over newspapers, watching advertisements, keeping their ears to the ground for political developments and attending events.

Does having a public figure as a husband put stress on your marriage?


Brenner:
It has taken some time for the couple to learn how to adjust to his schedule. Each week Brenner gets a copy of his schedule for the following week, which she uses to plan family activities.

DePasquale: “I don’t think so,” she said, adding that any stresses “don’t come from being in the public eye.” Their marriage, she said, is no different from others in which a spouse is “really on the go.”

Waugh: Waugh said it doesn’t. “Mike and I have a pretty strong relationship,” she said, adding a couple needs to be in agreement before becoming involved in politics.

How do you carve out time for yourselves?

Brenner: On New Year’s Day, the Brenners make a list that includes improvements they might want to make on their home, goals for their marriage and hopes for their son. It’s kept on their refrigerator, and they refer to it when they need to be reminded of those goals.

DePasquale: The couple recently celebrated their anniversary two weeks late because of state budget negotiations. Like other busy couples, they schedule time together when there are no other commitments.

Waugh: The Waughs live on a 140-acre farm and own six Percheron horses, all of which demand their attention. “This is our pastime,” she said, adding their time together is often spent tending to the farm.

What do you think of the presidential candidates’ wives?

Brenner: “I’m in awe of both of them. I cannot even imagine how grueling it is to share your husband with millions of people across America.”

DePasquale: “I don’t know how they do it, especially the Obamas,” she said. Someday she would like to speak with Michelle Obama to find out how she maintains a career and her own identity while participating in her husband’s campaign and managing her home and family.

Waugh: Waugh is not envious of the grueling lifestyle of a candidate for national office. “I think both ladies are probably incredibly proud of what their husbands are,” she said. “And I’m sure they’re both accomplished in their own right.”

About the wives

Adrienne Brenner
Husband: York Mayor John Brenner, a democrat who is not seeking re-election in 2009, citing a need to spend more time with his family
Biography: The mother of Samuel, 4, she is expecting her second child in January. Brenner, 35, is an adjunct professor at York College, an art therapist for the Children’s Home of York, and teaches at the YMCA.

Wanda Waugh
Husband: State Rep. Mike Waugh, R-Shrewsbury Township
Biography: Married for more than 30 years, Wanda Waugh, 51, works for Memorial Hospital in York. The couple has a 27-year-old son, Joseph.

Tracey DePasquale
Husband: State Rep. Eugene DePasquale, D-West Manchester
Biography: Married 10 years, DePasquale is 43. She is a schoolteacher who left her career to give their children a “more calm environment” when her husband replaced former state Rep. Steve Stetler in 2006. They have two children, Benjamin, 8, and Sarah, 5.

Related story

Eugene DePasquale sworn in as Pa. auditor general

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