J’can runs for state rep in NY

Jamaica Gleaner - - SPORTS - Glenda An­der­son Gleaner Writer

WHEN RHODE Is­land vot­ers go to the polls come Novem­ber 8, they will have the choice of elect­ing for­mer Ja­maican school­teacher Mar­cia Ran­glinVas­sell as state rep­re­sen­ta­tive for their com­mu­nity.

Vas­sell, who mi­grated to the United States in 1990, and is now a pub­lic-school teacher in Prov­i­dence, got the nod over her op­po­nent after the state Board of Elec­tions de­nied a last­minute re­quest from lawyers rep­re­sent­ing House Ma­jor­ity Leader John DeSi­mone to re­view al­leged ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties at one polling site.

A re­count in mid-Septem­ber gave her a 21-point edge over DeSi­mone and the chance to stand as Demo­cratic rep.

She now faces Roland Lavallee in the Novem­ber 8 gen­eral elec­tion.

But Ran­glin-Vas­sell, who grew up in Bull Bay, St Thomas, a ru­ral com­mu­nity on the east­ern end of the is­land, says her jour­ney to rep­re­sen­ta­tional pol­i­tics, while not de­lib­er­ate, is sim­ply deeply rooted in her love for peo­ple and a strong de­sire to help change their cir­cum­stances for the bet­ter.

JOUR­NEY STARTED AT 18

“With­out con­sciously think­ing about it, my po­lit­i­cal jour­ney be­gan when I was 18 years old and I was se­lected as a Na­tional Youth Ser­vice worker. I was as­signed to the So­cial De­vel­op­ment Com­mis­sion lo­cated at 74 1/2 Hanover Street in Kingston. Un­der the watch­ful eyes of Sadie Bowen and Per­ci­val Black­wood, I spent an en­tire year knock­ing on doors in East Kingston and Port Royal help­ing chil­dren and their fam­i­lies to build their lives and their com­mu­ni­ties.”

It also helped that her fa­ther, Eric Ran­glin, de­spite grow­ing up poor and with­out for­mal ed­u­ca­tion, founded a church and preschool in the neigh­bour­hood – the 11 Miles New Tes­ta­ment Church of God and Preschool – which was ini­tially housed un­der tarp in the yard.

There were strug­gles, but an even stronger de­sire to share what lit­tle the fam­ily had.

When her fa­ther died, her mother, Mavis Ran­glin, was forced to start her own busi­ness.

“She bought a large bas­ket, and used it to carry fruits to the fac­to­ries in our neigh­bour­hood to sell to the fac­tory work­ers. Our fam­ily strug­gled, but again we sur­vived, be­cause of the love and ded­i­ca­tion of our mother,” Ran­glin-Vas­sell says.

MOVED BY GUN VI­O­LENCE

“Fast-for­ward 36 years, I had no idea that I would run for po­lit­i­cal of­fice. I have been busy mak­ing sure that my fam­ily is sup­ported. In ad­di­tion to that, I have been teach­ing, and fight­ing for the com­mu­nity and for fam­i­lies who have worked re­ally hard for ev­ery­thing they have and are just look­ing for op­por­tu­ni­ties. As a mother, a Prov­i­dence pub­lic-school teacher, and a com­mu­nity ac­tivist, I have done ev­ery­thing I can to give my chil­dren, my stu­dents, and my neigh­bours a chance at suc­cess.

“How­ever, the cat­a­lyst for run­ning for of­fice ac­tu­ally came only a few months ago after I re­alised that gun vi­o­lence had taken the lives of so many of the chil­dren that I have taught. I re­alised that I know some of the per­pe­tra­tors of gun vi­o­lence, I know some of the vic­tims, I know the in­car­cer­ated and I know their fam­i­lies. I was just tired of see­ing so many lives ru­ined, and I thought that run­ning for of­fice could help,” she ex­plained.

If suc­cess­ful, she plans to push for­ward on changes to laws that would cre­ate safer com­mu­ni­ties and strengthen fam­i­lies.

“As a leg­is­la­tor, my pri­or­i­ties are to work as hard and as smart as I can, to get like-minded

CONRTIBUTED

Mar­cia Ran­glin Vas­sell

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