New Jersey is sending an African-American woman to represent residents in Congress for the first time ever. Bonnie Watson Coleman handily won the open seat in the 12th Congressional District vacated by Rush Holt. Watson Coleman told NJTV News Anchor Mary Alice Williams that she is excited about the opportunity to serve in Congress.
“Well it’s an exciting opportunity to serve my community on a larger scale,” said Watson Coleman. “It’s also exciting that it’s historic. It’s a little sad, however, that we’re talking about this being the first in 2014 in a state that is so diverse and has so many women and so many minorities doing leadership, taking on leadership roles and doing wonderful things for the state. But I’m excited.”
Watson Coleman said that she hopes to address issues that the 12th Congressional District elected her for, such as jobs, the economy and infrastructure. She also said that pay equity, women’s rights, protecting Social Security and Medicare against privatization and protecting communities are other important issues.
Watson Coleman said that she and other Democrats will have to wait and see what can get done in a Republican controlled House of Representatives. She also said that this recent Congress has been a very dysfunctional Congress thus far and that it has introduced the fewest bills in history. She said the Republican leadership is going to have the responsibility to step up and work with Democrats to try to grow the economy, build infrastructure and make sure they’re addressing climate change.
Prior to getting elected to the House of Representatives, Watson Coleman served in the New Jersey Legislature since 1998. Heading into Congress, she said that she will not have a “my way or the highway” mindset. She also said she has learned that there are people on both sides of the aisle that are willing to work for the good of the majority of the people and that there is never a perfect piece of legislation.
Watson Coleman said that she would like to sit on congressional committees that deal with transportation, energy, commerce, education, health care and women’s issues. She said that she has been mentored by individuals in Congress who have told her to make sure her issues and desires are known.
“I have sent a letter down to our leadership regarding areas in which I’d be particularly interested, but I’m a realist. I know that I’m a freshman,” Watson Coleman said. “I know there’s a lot of competition for important committees like education and workforce, which I think is my number one choice if given that option. But you know what? You get to work on task forces and other sort of ad hoc committees on those issues in the event that you don’t get assigned to the committee that you want.”