We Need Diversity in Rhode Island’s General Assembly

On my last post I was called out for having previously said somewhere at some time that the General Assembly, and the House in particular, has too many white, male lawyers. Here I’m going to lay out some of the facts I found about the over-representation of that specific type of person.

95% of our State Representatives are white. 77% of Rhode Islanders are white.

75% of our State Representatives are male. 48% of Rhode Islanders are male.

28% of our State Representatives are lawyers. 0.4% of Rhode Islanders are lawyers.

27% of our State Representatives are white, male lawyers.

I’m all for having some white, male lawyers in the State House. It’s also okay to have more lawyers than the general population. As some people have pointed out, the job of a legislator is to make laws, so a law degree does not hurt in that regard. However, more important than the technical drafting of the language (after all, there are State House staff with this responsibility) is representing the interests of all Rhode Islanders. Passing a budget that works for all Rhode Islanders. Strengthening public education, investing in infrastructure, creating job opportunities and maintaining safety nets is what I want my legislators to be busy doing. You can’t fix problems you don’t see, and so I want my General Assembly to have eyes in as many places as possible, and I do believe that requires diversity in all factors, from gender, race and age, to class, employment history, and experiences with poverty.

So, if you’re a cashier, or a waitress or a salesperson, it’s time you gave some thought to running for office. Your community needs you. The stakes are too high to sit on the sidelines.

My sources:
http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/  – each state rep’s bio page for gender, race, occupation info
http://www.statehealthfacts.org/profileind.jsp?ind=5&cat=1&rgn=41 – for gender and race info on RI
http://lawschooltuitionbubble.wordpress.com/original-research-updated/lawyers-per-capita-by-state/ – for lawyer info on RI
http://www.seniorjobbank.org/database/Rhode_Island/Rhode_Island.html – for employment info for RI

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Candidate for State Representative District 8 - Federal Hill, Olneyville, Valley
www.libbykimzey.com

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