Join us on our journey to interview an elected official in each of the 50 states. With a focus on profiling underdogs who beat the odds, find out what motivated our officials to run, the adversities they overcame, and what we need to do to work together again. Do you think politics is only for a select and chosen few? Think again.
Amy Sinclair - Iowa's Senate Majority Whip
R-Amy Sinclair, Majority Whip for the Iowa Senate, knows hardship, struggle, and tragedy. She grew up in an apolitical family in rural Iowa without telephone service. She had a baby when she was 19 years old. During her first race in her late 20s against a popular three-term incumbent, she was told by her own Party chair, “You’re going to lose.” Her brother tragically passed away during that campaign. Yet she overcame those odds and tragedy to become the youngest serving County Supervisor in Iowa, and is currently the Majority Whip in the Iowa Senate caucus.
1:40 - Was politics in your blood?
4:10 - How was your first race?
5:20 - What was the darkest time of the campaign?
6:40 - How did you get over learning curve of figuring out what to do?
7:10 - How were you treated as the young female who shouldn’t have won?
11:00 - How did you win the primary so handily?
13:10 - Did the other candidates work as hard as you?
14:25 - Would you have had the confidence to say you were the “best candidate” if not on Board of County Supervisors?
14:50 - What would you say to candidates that don’t have the confidence you did?
16:45 - What was the learning curve in the senate like for you?
18:00 - Any personal habits to help you with stress?
19:00 - What does it say about the GOP that only 2/29th of the Iowa Senate are women?
20:10 - How can we have a conversation and remain friends when discussing sticky issues?
22:10 - “My job goes beyond working on a single issue.”
24:10 - “The level of incivility we have reached - I don’t understand it.”
26:10 - What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
29:10 - What is the biggest personal challenge you’ve overcome?
30:40 - Best advice you’ve received?
Saira Blair - West Virginia's Youngest Delegate
At the age of 17 in 2014, Saira Blair ran for a West Virginia delegate seat and beat an incumbent Republican in a primary to eventually become the youngest legislator in the USA. Hear how she managed her overwhelming fear of public speaking, how she dealt with death threats she received over legislation, and how to handle embarrassing social media situations.
1:30 - Why aren’t you running for re-election?
2:50 - What was the reaction from your family when you told them you were going to run against an incumbent Republican?
4:30 - Was there any point on the campaign trail you almost gave in to the people who told you were crazy?
5:10 - What was the worst public speaking experience you had?
6:00 - How did you keep yourself going when you wanted to quit?
7:36 - How did the local party perceive you when you challenged an incumbent Republican?
10:15 - What would you say to a young person who doesn’t have a strong mentor?
12:15 - Did you face any sexism on the campaign trail or in the legislature?
15:15 - How do you handle the emotions of the negativity?
15:40 - What is some of the best advice you’ve received?
17:00 - What would you say to a young person concerned about something negative about them popping up on social media?
17:45 - What do you think the biggest personal challenge you’ve overcome is?
22:15 - What can we do to come together as a country again?
Josh Zakim - Boston City Councilor
Josh Zakim was elected to Boston City Council in 2013 when he was 29 years old. He is currently running for Secretary of State in Massachusetts against long-time incumbent William Galvin in the Democratic Primary. Will Zakim be the first Boston City Councilor to win a statewide office in Massachusetts since 1958?
1:40 - What is the day in the life of a Boston City Councilor?
2:40 - What prompted you to put your name on the ballot as opposed to a behind the scenes role like your father?
3:22 - Was there ever a time you thought you might not be successful?
4:10 - Is a progressive wave sweeping Boston?
5:20 - Why did your opponent insult all of Boston City Council?
6:30 - Does it concern that a Boston City Councilor has not won a statewide seat since 1958?
7:20 - What would you say to someone who is thinking about running for office but doesn’t come from a political family?
8:25 - Is there a divide between Boston and the rest of Massachusetts?
9:20 - What is your biggest accomplishment as a Boston City Council?
10:40 - What is something you would do over with your time on City Council?
10:20 - What is the best advice you’ve been given?
12:40 - What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve overcome in your life?
Senator Ikley-Freeman - From Homeless to Oklahoma's Youngest Legislator
Senator Alison Ikley-Freeman is Oklahoma’s youngest state senator. She won a special election in 2018 as a Democrat in a conservative district that President Trump won by 40 points in 2016, and was represented by a Republican for over 20 years. NBC chose this headline when Senator Alison Ikley-Freeman won: “Lesbian Democrat pulls off election victory in conservative Oklahoma”. While perhaps going for some shock value, the headline represents just how much of an underdog Senator Ikley-Freeman was in a red district. From experiencing homelessness with a daughter before entering politics, to only putting her name on the ballot as a placeholder, listen to Senator Ikley-Freeman’s episode for an inspiring story about overcoming great odds.
2:10 - How has the mood been since the Oklahoma’s teacher’s strike ended?
3:20 - What’s the been the most personal story that has hit you the most?
5:10 - Can you talk about being homeless?
7:15 - What was your initial interest in politics?
8:40 - Were there no precinct chairs because the Republican Party has more power?
9:10 - How did the special election pop up?
14:50 - What is the salary of a state senator in Oklahoma?
20:10 - Where was the Blue Wave money during your election?
20:40 - What was the darkest time of the campaign for you?
23:10 - Did having an alternative lifestyle in a conservative district come up at all?
24:05 - What was the biggest lesson you learned?
25:00 - Talk to me about election night.
28:00 - Is there a spirit of bipartisanship in Oklahoma?
29:40 - Is there a lesson for the country in how Oklahoma does politics?
30:40 - What has been the biggest surprise for you since you’ve been in office?
31:50 - Has Oklahoma made any progress in dealing with the opioid epidemic?
33:05 - What steps would you take to deal with the opioid epidemic?
34:40 - We discuss ramifications of saying “I don’t know” to a question.
36:00 - What would you say to someone about why someone with an unconventional background should run for office?
37:10 - What do you think we can do as a country to unify again?
40:00 - Am I hearing you say focus on local issues as opposed to national issues?
Julie Emerson - Louisiana’s Youngest Legislator
At the age of 26, R-Julie Emerson beat a Democratic incumbent in 2015 to become the youngest legislator in Louisiana. The star of a viral video, she believes that millennials should gravitate towards the GOP and move away from progressive politics. As a legislator, Julie is dedicated to fighting off bad legislation and repealing some nonsensical laws still on the books in Louisiana, such as a mandatory 72-hour waiting period for a marriage license. Take a listen and see if the next wave of GOP legislators has any hope in winning over new generations.
Philadelphia Legend - Ed Rendell
Ed Rendell is a Philadelphia legend. Ed began his career as an elected official when his campaigning in bars and subways paid off, and he was elected as the youngest District Attorney in Philadelphia history at the age of 32 in 1976. He served as the Mayor of Philadelphia from 1991-2000 and Governor of Pennsylvania from 2003-2011. It wasn’t exactly an easy road. Ed lost back to back elections in 1986 and 1987 and was thought to be finished politically. Take a listen to hear how he got his start, and how he battled back after losing two elections.
:05 - What is a day in the life of Ed Rendell now?
2:30 - Do you miss holding elected office?
12:10 - Can you talk about prosecuting Mumia Abu-Jamal?
16:40 - What kind of resistance did you get for the second Mayoral run?
17:40 - What can we do to ease racial tensions today?
20:44 - You never had a Democratic legislature. How did you work with the Republicans?
23:00 - Do you think there’s a fear to compromise by the purists?
25:50 - Are we one-step closer to getting rid of the electoral college?
27:30 - What’s the biggest lesson you’d want to impart on people?
James does a great job of facilitating this platform to humanize politics which is incredibly important in this political climate. Most people aren't the extremes we see on the news each day and it's important to remember that there are good people in government and that the only way this country is going to move forward is by coming together.
Exceptional, professional series!
Thanks you for providing these amazing stories of dedicated Americans who choose to serve the people in the political arena.
Insightful and inspiring
Insightful and inspiring