Congresswoman Jahana Hayes engages with constituents at high school


Pei Chao Zhuo

Red, white, and blue– Congresswoman Jahana Hayes speaks to students, community, members, faculty, and staff at her recent visit to the high school. Hayes spoke on many topics and answered audience member questions.

Ricky Podgorski, News Editor

U.S. Representative Jahana Hayes hosted a congressional update at the high school on April 23 to speak about current political issues. Hosted by the Political Action Club, the event focused on informing constituents about the congresswoman’s agenda.

Members of the community joined students to listen to Hayes speak about the recent release of the Mueller Report and its implications, her time so far in office, her vote for Representative Nancy Pelosi to be Speaker of the House, as well as the Green New Deal. Then, the floor was open for questions from citizens.

“She struck me as a very sincere and down to Earth person. It was a great example showing how that kind of person can exist as a politician. Often on television, we just hear the sound bites, and it’s hard to get a sense of the person’s real personality,” Political Action Club advisor Lance Goldberg said.

Hayes opened the town hall-style event by commenting on the conclusion of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. She affirmed Congress’s responsibility to act based on the findings.

“For as much as I know how damaging proceedings would be for this country. I also know that undeniably this report says that Russia interfered in our elections, and we have to address that,” Hayes said.

Hayes also described the difficulty she had in establishing her congressional offices in January during the government shutdown. The halting of many government functions made it challenging for the congresswoman to carry out her duties to constituents.

“I’d like to call it ‘baptism by fire’ because so many things happened during that time,” Hayes said.

Hayes defended her vote in favor of Pelosi for Speaker, arguing that given the alternative of Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy, she has “no regrets about voting for Nancy Pelosi.”

Furthermore, despite being a cosponsor of the Green New Deal, Hayes admits that more work is needed regarding the proposed response to climate change from New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Indeed, she distanced herself from Ocasio-Cortez, refuting portrayals of them as close allies on the account of them sitting together during the swearing-in ceremony for freshman representatives.

“What happened is we both had the wherewithal to get there in time to get a good seat and then refused to move because we would lose it,” Hayes said.

Hayes emphasized during the event the importance for politicians to place the needs of the nation above their political party, recounting the story of a Republican legislator who voted against reopening the department of agriculture during the shutdown because the Democrats introduced the legislation, although he privately voiced support for it.

“We got to do better than that . . . if it’s a good vote for the people in this district, I don’t care who puts it on the floor, I’m voting ‘yes’,” Hayes said.

During the question and answer session, senior Chantelle Otu-Appiah asked the congresswoman about expanding gun control. At the beginning of the event, senior Camille Hoheb sang the national anthem. Additionally, sophomore Kylee Ficks attended the event to learn more about local and national politics.

“After learning about the branches of government in my Government and Law class, it was great for students to see these people live in action,” Ficks said.