I am an engineer by training which means I focus on making processes and systems operate more efficiently. My challenge as a new legislator involves applying engineering principles to how our legislature has been hijacked to serve monied interests.
So — if you’ve followed the Kansas legislature’s hijinks this session, then you have a sense for the challenges my training poses for me as I try to serve my constituents. In short, the status quo is unacceptable. Our system isn’t broken, it’s designed this way and if we want a system that actually serves us, then we have to upset, object, and intervene whenever necessary.
That’s why I spoke so forcefully about never wanting to be viewed as the kind of legislator who’d betray his constituents. I regret nothing.
What I will not do is fall silent when I see something wrong. I owe that to the late Rep.Gail Finney whose seat I now feel and my constituents.
His Record Indicates: Rep. Robinson’s Not Voting Constituents’ Interests
Freshmanxiety: Why Things Got Tense Between Freshmen Kansas Reps. Ford Carr and Marvin Robinson
We spent the bulk of the previous session debating issues of human sexuality, issues that while important to many people, aren’t priorities for most struggling Kansans.
Republicans, who control what comes to the floor, continued to push a false narrative on election security and stepped up their attacks on public education and on voting rights.
I see the needs in my district. I see the inequality in the lack of grocery stores and the dearth of wide-scale entrepreneurism.
People need work. People need answers from the child welfare system. People need to know that when cancer-causing chemicals are contained in the groundwater the information will be swiftly shared with the residents in the affected areas. People need relief from an oppressive justice system.
So, when a Democratic caucus member – someone supposedly upholding the shared values of the Democratic Party – voted against his constituents’ needs for SNAP benefits or Medicaid expansion, and supported voting suppression measures, this was problematic. These types of issues aren’t new when it comes to our Black elected officials. That’s the elephant in the room that normally no one is willing to mention.
We in the Black community know that there is a history of what we would term “Sell-out” behavior. It’s time that we call a thing, a thing and we can’t afford to let it continue. The sacrificing of the many, in exchange for the fame and/or fortune of one.
I spoke up. I would never trade my vote so that … people in my neighborhood, my constituents … would never have the opportunity to look at me and think that I might be one of those house Negroes.”
The Kansas City Star’s (mostly white) Editorial Board said I went too far, but what we didn’t hear from The Star’s Editorial Board was anything about how Rep. Robinson’s constituents were harmed by his myopic political calculations. The board had more sympathy for Robinson’s feelings than for the needs of his betrayed constituents.