Wasserman Schultz Gives View of Political Landscape

May 19, 2014

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Paula Witherell
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Daemen College
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Debbie Wasserman SchultzDebbie Wasserman Schultz

AMHERST, N.Y. -- U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida shed light on the national political scene and her personal path to public service at the Daemen College Distinguished Leaders Lecture Series event held May 13.

In an engaging and conversational style, Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, started off speaking before the overflow crowd about her introduction to politics in 1992 when she ran for the Florida State Legislature.

“The opportunity to work in public service was inspiring and presented an opportunity for me to help people, particularly young families, improve education and work on making quality, affordable health care available to everyone,” she said. “However, most of all, I knew my voice could speak for other women like me who are not represented in a political capacity.”

In the end, Wasserman Schultz, at age 25, became the youngest woman ever elected to the legislature in Florida. Since then, she has been elected to Congress to represent Florida’s 20th (now 23rd) district, making her the first Jewish congresswoman ever elected from the state.

Her political roots are steeped in her upbringing in downstate New York, where she learned the importance of public service and giving back to the community. “It’s amazing to spend every day thinking and doing what was instilled in me growing up by having public service as my life’s work,” she said.

Wasserman Schultz pointed to her personal experience as a breast cancer survivor as having a profound impact on her commitment in the political sector by making real, lasting changes for citizens throughout the U.S. “In essence, I wanted to fill a niche and to use my public role in ways that would make a difference across the country,” she said, using the EARLY (Education and Awareness Requires Learning Early) Act, a national breast cancer education campaign targeted to young women, as an example of her efforts.

Nationally, Wasserman Schultz emphasized there are “real challenges in the U.S. that need serious solutions. We need to move forward as a united nation – that’s how a healthy, vibrant democracy is supposed to function. Clearly, exchanges between citizens and elected officials are critical to this country being successful and to boosting our economy.”

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