Former National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes, whose joyful reaction to being honored by then-President Barack Obama went viral in 2016, has declared her candidacy in the congressional race for Connecticut’s fifth district — becoming one of a growing numbers of teachers to seek political office in the face of budget cuts to education nationwide. The 45-year-old mother of four said that she was inspired by a wave of young Democratic candidates who are “bucking the trend that you have to check off all these boxes before you’re even considered to be viable.”
“There’s an appetite for change,” says Hayes, noting the recent success of candidates such as 28-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who recently ousted Joe Crowley, the fourth-ranked Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives, in the primary for the 14th Congressional District in New York. If Hayes wants to win, she’ll also have to pull off a remarkable upset of her own. Her opponent in the Democratic primary, Mary Glassman, is a two-time nominee for lieutenant governor with decades of experience in Connecticut politics. But the longtime social studies teacher said that she feels her experience not only as an educator but as a woman who grew up in a Connecticut housing project and became pregnant as a teenager allows her to understand her voters on a level that others cannot. Her students in particular, she insists, are her greatest motivation for seeking political office.
“My students were all working and I looked down at them and said, ‘Who will speak for them? Who will share their story with the world? And I said me,’” she recalled in her first campaign ad.
As Hayes runs her campaign, she is continuing to work full time in her school district. And while she acknowledges the difficulty of juggling both responsibilities, she says that “the whole point of me doing this is to stress that everyone should get involved.”
Watch Hayes’ first campaign ad below.
Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes is running for Congress — here's her first campaign ad pic.twitter.com/nNdiU9nxwV
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) July 16, 2018
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