I have gotten great feedback from so many who read this column but people should know I’m not the first — there have been others before me who have accepted the challenge of juggling young children and elected office. They gave me the strength and courage to try and I, in turn, have tried to amplify that message in my life and in this column.
Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of endorsing one such woman. I first met Liz Muoio when she was a Freeholder. I was working for Congressman Holt and we were at press conference. While I may have forgotten the topic of the press conference, I can still vividly see Liz just off to the side trying to entertain/distract her youngest who was a toddler at the time. Young me couldn’t help but wonder how she did it.
About 10 years later, she was the first person I turned to as I decided if running for council with a baby on the way was a good idea. As the Democratic County Chair, she could have painted a rosy picture to make it seem easy, but she instead painted a real picture — the good and the bad. Liz is the type of woman we want in politics. She raised her family while shaping her community. She didn’t wait for it to be easier or for an invitation. She stepped up because she had something to say.
I will be forever grateful for her advice and for paving the way. I was proud to support her nomination for Assembly. And, earlier this year, I was fortunate to be on the floor of the Assembly as she was sworn in as Assemblywoman to fulfill the remainder of Congresswoman Watson Coleman’s term. I asked her to share her remarks from that day with my readers:
I could not be more proud than to be standing here before you as your new Assemblywoman, and I have assured my colleagues that I know and appreciate the fact that I have large shoes to fill.
While I know that many legislators may feel similarly, this 15th Legislative District, the district we are sitting in here today, is truly a microcosm of this state. From our vibrant, urban downtown capital city, to our diverse suburban communities, to the farmlands and hills of Hopewell Valley and the Amwells, to the historic river community of Lambertville, I cannot imagine a more richly diverse district than the 15th Legislative District. It is an honor to serve this district as Assemblywoman.
I have had the privilege of serving in elected office at both the municipal and county level several times, and two people who are probably the most responsible for my being here have never been able to attend any of my swearing-in ceremonies until today, so I’d just like to thank my parents, Wally and Jackie Maher.
I was thinking about my parents the other day as I watched the Super Bowl. There was a commercial that really disturbed me. I don’t know how many of you saw the “Throw Like Girl” commercial. Young girls and teenagers were interviewed and asked what their impressions were when they were told something was being done “like a girl”, and it revealed that as girls grew older they viewed that something done “like a girl” as having a negative connotation.
My parents raised my two sisters and I to believe there was absolutely nothing we couldn’t do and that the only limitations we had for anything we wanted to achieve in life were the limitations we put on ourselves. And while I could imagine having seen a commercial like that a few decades ago, to see that commercial last week was deeply disturbing.
So on behalf of my parents and my sisters and sisters-in-law, and my many great friends who are here, and the wonderful women I serve with in county government, and now here in the legislature, I just want to say to all the girls out there: if you want to do well in school -– study like a girl; and if you want to do well in your chosen business or profession – work like a girl; and if you’re interested in politics – run like a girl.