Pauline Herskowitz Menes has represented the 21st district of Prince George's County, Maryland, in the Maryland General Assembly since she first took office in 1966 until 2007.
She was born on July 16, 1924 in New York City, New York. She spent her childhood in New York and graduated from Grove Cleveland High School in 1941. She then entered Hunter College to study business economics and geography, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1945.
Upon graduation, Menes moved to Washington, D. C. to work for the government as an economist on a temporary wartime basis during World War II. She worked as an economist in the Office of the Quarter Master General from 1945 to 1947, where she met her husband Melvin while training him as her replacement. They were married on September 1, 1946. She then served as a geographer for the Army Map Service, a position she held from 1949 until 1950.
Menes' entry into politics came in 1953 when she became active in organizing a voter registration drive in the University Hills area and served as Precinct Club Chairperson, Vice Chairperson, and Corresponding Secretary. She continued to participate in Prince George's County politics, serving as Campaign Secretary for the 1962 Primary and General Elections, 1962 Register of Wills candidate, 1963 County Board of Elections Chief Clerk, and 1966 Secretary for the Democratic Steering Committee. She worked as a substitute teacher in county public high schools during 1965-1966 until she gained a seat in the Maryland House of Delegates in 1966. With that appointment, she served Prince George's County on a full-time basis, beginning her 6th term in 1987.
Menes identified two of the issues that originally motivated her to enter politics as education and health care. During her tenure in the legislature, she focused on these and other issues including the criminal justice system, juvenile justice, aging, the arts, and a broad range of women's issues. These interests are reflected in the major political and governmental positions she held over her twenty-two years in politics, such as: the National Order of Women Legislators (National President, 1979-1980); Maryland State Arts Council (Member, 1968-1987); Maryland Commission on Aging (Member 1975-1987); National Conference of State Legislators (Founding President, 1977-1979); Prince George's County Women's Political Caucus (Charter member 1971); Prince George's County Domestic Violence Task Force (Member 1983-1985); The Arts, Tourism, and Cultural Resources Commission of the National Conference of State Legislatures (Member 1981-1987); the Maryland Women Legislator's Caucus (President 1975-1979); and the leader of the Maryland delegation to the National Women's Conference (1977).
More recently, Menes ran on an incumbent's ticket in 1986, identified as the "21st Democratic Team," headed by Senator Arthur Dorman. Menes and Dorman had run on the same ticket since their initial campaign in 1966, in which both were elected.
Campaign literature for her 1986 election emphasizes the need to improve local schools, revitalize older commercial areas, and prevent traffic congestion problems that have plagued neighboring Montgomery County. In her campaign statements, Menes emphasized her past focus on services for the elderly and expressed the need to establish additional government services as the elderly population increases. She also brought attention to the link between crime and drugs and the need for a crackdown on drug dealing and the development of new drug treatment programs in prisons and neighborhoods.
Delegate Menes served as Chairman of the Special House Committee on Juveniles and Drugs, a member of the Judiciary Committee (since 1979), and a member of the Rules and Executive Nominations Committee (since 1979).
Recognition of her legislative accomplishments has come from many sources. Among the numerous awards she received are the Ann Landon Scott Award for Legislative Excellence by the Maryland National Organization for Women in 1976, the International Women's Year Award by the Prince George's County International Women's Year Commission in 1977, and the Woman of the Year award by the College Park Business and Profession Women's Association in 1978.
In 2007, Menes retired after serving 40 years in political and public service. After retirement, Menes continued to remain politically active, campaigning for Hilary Clinton in 2008.
Pauline Menes died on May 16, 2009.