By Paul Rozycki
LaShaya Darisaw kicked off her campaign for 49th District state representative seat Saturday, April 28, at the Village Hall on N. Saginaw Street in Beecher, with about four dozen enthusiastic supporters.
As she began her campaign, she said, “We need more people in office that truly represent us. No more career politicians seeking a job. No more legacy family names. We have done that, for years. Putting people into office that only think about their own pockets and have no idea what the average American life is like.”
Darisaw, a Flushing resident, is running for Democratic nomination in the 49th state house district, which covers southwest parts of the City of Flint, the cities of Flushing, Mount Morris, and Swartz Creek, Flint Township, and Mt. Morris Township. The district is currently represented by term limited Democrat, Phil Phelps. Other Democratic candidates running to replace Phelps are John D. Cherry, former Flint Mayor Dayne Walling, Justin Dickerson, Don Wright, and Jacky King. One Republican, Patrick Duvendeck, also has filed to run.
Darisaw said she feels her major opponent in the contest will probably be John Cherry. The district has a strong Democratic base, and the winner of the primary is usually favored in November. The primary election is Aug. 7.
Darisaw describes herself as a single mother, who is “not a career politician” and one who has “stood for Flint, and cities like ours across the nation. I’ve stood for causes that affect everyday people like you and me.”Shetakes pride in the fact that she was raised by her great-grandmother, has a father who is a “military man” and an uncle who was a police officer.
She’s a first generation college student who has earned a master’s degree in public policy at the University of Michigan -Flint, as well as four other degrees. She has been awarded the Heart and Soul Award from the Michigan Non-Profit Association for her community service in 2014 and 2015.
She has spoken out on the Flint water crisis through a variety of media outlets both in the U.S. and internationally.
It was the Flint water crisis that launched Darisaw’s political activism. As she said to her supporters, “My political journey started exactly four years ago today. So as you can imagine this is a bittersweet moment for me. Wednesday marked four years of the ongoing water crisis. Which means four years of activism.
“Four years of lies, four years of poison, four years of lost lives. Four years of trying to get elected officials to do what’s right,” she continued. “Never did I imagine that four years later that this would be the outcome. That four years later we would still be fighting the same fight for a basic human right. This run for state representative is much more to me than a political campaign. This is about building a movement that goes beyond Election Day.”
Though her activism began with the water crisis, she highlighted several other issues on her campaign literature. Some of the major issues she supports are, better transparency and oversight in government, green technology and jobs, health care as a right, infrastructure improvements, investment in schools and criminal justice reform.
It’s her first campaign, but she has received endorsements of the Progressive Caucus of the Michigan Democratic Party, and was the only candidate endorsed by a state party caucus. She also was endorsed by the chair of the Environmental Caucus of the Michigan Democratic Party. She has also garnered the support of Flint water activist Melissa Mays, Michigan state Representative Jewell Jones, and Flint City Council members Kate Fields and Eva Worthing.
She underscored her desire to make her campaign about more than just the water crisis and the 2018 election when she said, “There is one more thing I am not. I am not a voice for the voiceless. I will teach them to use their own because I believe in a representative democracy.Politics isn’t just about policy it about protecting people...Democracy is not a spectator sport. It’s up to us to do something about it. That is why I am running.”
Darisaw concluded her opening remarks with her favorite quote from Franklin Roosevelt, which says:
“Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a president, congressmen, or any government official, but the voters of this country.”
Darisaw’s website is www.VoteLaShaya.com.
EVM political columnist Paul Rozycki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.