New State Legislators, rah rah rah

As the U.S. Congress gets to its work, I want to spotlight a couple of newly-elected officials who are taking office at the state level.

One of them is a tattooed 26-year-old single mom named Moira Walsh, a new member of the Rhode Island General Assembly. She’s been waiting tables since she was a teenager. Not long ago, she participated in a six-month campaign by her union to get the tipped minimum wage raised, and although they prevailed, she came away frustrated that her representative didn’t seem to care much about representing her.

She decided to run, going door to door in her neighborhood. She won. She didn’t have much in the way of a campaign fund, but she had a lot of shoe leather and credibility. Now that she’s a state legislator, she has dental insurance for the first time in a decade.

Another new state legislator is Jewell Jones, a 21-year-old college senior who was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives with 65% of the vote. This is his second major electoral victory; at 20, he was elected to the Inkster City Council. As a councilman, he began the work of rehabilitating Inkster’s deeply indebted school system, using the experience he built as a junior deacon of his church.

They’re only two people of many. They’re important both because they’re special and because they’re not. They’re just two of the people who stepped up to the plate and recognized that the government is us. We’re not its customers; it’s the family business.