[Carole McClellan at Mayor’s Desk], circa 1977, PICB 09914
A native Austinite, Carole Keeton was born in 1939 to Page and Madge Keeton. Her father was a long-serving dean of UT’s law school and has a street near campus named for him. She studied government at UT, graduating in 1961. She married Barr McClellan, a lawyer, with whom she had four sons. She taught history and civics at McCallum High School.
Keeton’s first involvement in politics was on the Austin Independent School District Board of Trustees. She began serving on the school board in 1972 and in 1976 was unanimously elected to head the board. While on the board she worked to improve achievement of minorities.
In 1977, known then as Carole Keeton McClellan, she was elected as Mayor of Austin, becoming the city’s first female mayor and eventually the city’s first mayor to win three successive terms. As an incoming mayor she was interested in streamlining the city bureaucracy.
She held her position as mayor until 1983 when Governor Mark White appointed her to the State Board of Insurance, becoming the first woman on that board. She resigned that position in 1986 in order to challenge J.J. Pickle for his seat in the U.S. Congress. Though previously registered as a Democrat, she ran in that election as a Republican, but lost. Later, as Carole Keeton Rylander, she was a Railroad Commissioner from 1994 to 1999 and then Comptroller of Public Accounts from 1999 to 2007. In 2006, under the name Carole Keeton Strayhorn, she ran a gubernatorial campaign as an Independent to challenge incumbent Rick Perry but did not win. She continues to live in Austin.