By, Sakina Abedi
For the month of October, I had the pleasure of interviewing State Representative Darrin Camilleri. Representative Camilleri (D-23) is currently serving in the Michigan House of Representatives. I enjoyed speaking with Representative Camilleri and hearing his story. I learned about his passion for his work and dedication to making a difference not only in his district, but in the state of Michigan.
Q: What led you to run for office?
A: I went to Kalamazoo College, and after I graduated I became a teacher. For me being a teacher was one of the most important experiences I’ve had so far in my life. I realized how challenging life is for students in situations where they don’t have a lot of opportunity… so that really spurred me to think about bigger ways that I could make an impact. I had been interested in politics before and I studied political science in school [and] the opportunity arose and I decided to take it.
Q: How has your previous profession helped you as a legislator?
A: I serve on the education committee, which is a really important and powerful experience for me to not only realize exactly the vision that I set out when I wanted to run for office but to impact students on a larger scale.
Q: Have you always aligned yourself with the Democratic platform?
A: My dad’s an immigrant, he came from Malta, my mom’s side of the family [is] Mexican American, so [they have] similar parallels. Both sides of my family have a lot of auto workers as well. Growing up in a blue-collar household, [and a] union household, I’ve always aligned myself with the Democratic Party just based on the values my parents hold. I didn’t fully understand that until I got to high school and college, when I started exploring more about political ideologies.
Q: What issues are important to you?
A: For me, right now a lot of the work that we’re doing is around education, particularly with literacy but I’m also really concerned with economic security. I am really concerned with making sure people still have livable wages, that there’s still good jobs out there, and that people are protected in the workplace. One of the ways that [we can also] improve is in infrastructure. We’ve got a lot of crumbling roads across the state and that’s a priority that we still need to make sure we’re paying attention to.
Q: What do you believe are your greatest accomplishments since you’ve been in office?
A: I think that returning to a culture of listening to my constituents and being present and active in my community [is] really important. I’ve held 12 coffee hours in the first 3 months; I visited 28 schools and spoke with 1500 students and 50 teachers. I met with every single mayor and supervisor in my district [and] I’m almost done meeting with every single police chief in my district as well. That is the first step that I’m really proud of as well as introducing legislation that I’m proud of.
Q: What issues will you advocate for in the future?
A: Working on infrastructure and figuring out ways to be more creative with solutions. The Great Lakes are really important to me and my neighbors… [so] talking about funding for the Great lakes and how to keep our water clean [and] making sure those conversations are happening. We want to make sure we’re protecting the things we have.
Q: What are your thoughts on being one of the younger representatives?
A: I think that a lot of us [younger representatives] have done a better job of earning respect early on from some of older colleagues because we’ve been working really hard and that’s what’s been encouraging to see.
Q: What is your favorite part of being a State Representative?
A: I really love meeting with people and making connections with folks and learning about the issues they care about. Being present and trying to advocate for people in my district and across the state is what I really like.
If you want to contact State Representative Darrin Camilleri: