The Hallmark aisle doesn’t seem to have a card for what I want to express. You work hard, give up time with your loved ones, and confront a predominantly male workplace and culture every day you serve in the General Assembly. There are plenty of Valentines for boyfriends, husbands, friends, children and even pets, but nothing for leaders.
Every day you fight for what you believe in, and often they are issues that will directly impact the rest of us and our families. With only 13 of you serving in the 50-member State Senate and 26 serving in the 120-State House, you have to work that much harder to make your voice (and ours) heard.
And while I’d like to buy all (OK, most) of you dinner and chocolates, there are a few I’d like to hand a rose to à la the “Bachelorette.
- Representative Pricey Harrison (D) of Greensboro has a long history of protecting issues relevant to women, and most recently our environment, when it comes to the issue of water supply and coal ash. This month she led a group of House and Senate Democrats, unveiling the framework of a bill that would repeal a law that makes it harder to contain groundwater at a waste dump. She also has been known to fight for education and job creation in the state.
- Senator Kathy Harrington (R) of Gaston County supports the community college system, which is believed to be key in assisting in the advancement of women and men as they pursue better-paying careers.
- Sen. Terry Van Duyn (D) of Asheville supports investing in public schools, and voted against last year’s legislation that fast-tracked fracking in North Carolina. In December she was chosen to serve as minority whip.
- Representative Rosa Gill (D) of Wake County is a retired educator who, in addition to advocating for public education, works to provide fairness in the criminal justice system and populations groups who find themselves vulnerable because of socio-economic challenges.
- Representative Rayne Brown (R) of Lexington says she believes that “children, not special interest groups, should be the main focus on education policy.”
I may never not agree with all of what you do, but I still admire all of you for fighting the good fight, and fighting against the boys’ club in Raleigh. If serving in public office was easy all of us would do it. You powerful women put yourself out there, worked the long hours and shook an exhaustive amount of hands to get where you are.
Happy Valentine’s Day and this year remember to follow your heart as you pursue and advocate for the policies of our state. We, and our children, are counting on your judgment and your dedication to your job.