Come January, it appears that there will be a total of 98 new Members of Congress (eight in the Senate and 90 in the House). These new Members have diverse backgrounds, from a former major party presidential nominee to governors to returning lawmakers to first time candidates, some will come to Washington with backgrounds in education and CTE, and some will learn when they get here. Over the next few weeks, we will be profiling these new Members to highlight any relevant education- or workforce-related backgrounds they may bring to Congress.
Arizona will have three new Members of Congress come January; two in the House and one in the Senate. In the Senate, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-09) won a Senate seat. She is currently a member of the House CTE Caucus. On her website, she touts her efforts “to strengthen STEM education for primary and secondary students, and to increase access to technical and skills training.”
Replacing Sen.-elect Sinema in the House is Greg Stanton. Stanton is a former city councilor and mayor of Phoenix, and previously worked as an education attorney. As a local elected official, he pushed for the creation of Bioscience High School, which provides specialized learning opportunities for secondary students. On his website, Stanton advocates for “strong career and technical education options available for students who wish to go directly into the workforce, so that every student can acquire the skills they need to join a trade or get a good job.”
Lastly, representing Arizona’s Second Congressional District will be Ann Kirkpatrick, who previously served in the House from 2013-2017. She did not run for re-election in 2016 because she challenged the late Sen. John McCain, but has now reclaimed a House seat. She is a former community college adjunct professor and previously served in the state legislature, where she was on the education committee. While she was not a member of the House CTE Caucus during her previous congressional service, she did support the Perkins reauthorization bill that passed in the House in 2016.
Californians elected seven new House members, all Democrats who are replacing Republicans. In the Tenth District, Josh Harder defeated Rep. Jeff Denham. Harder is a venture capitalist who previously taught business at a junior college. During the campaign, he pledged to “fight to make community college and vocational training programs tuition-free.”
In the Twenty-first Congressional District, T.J Cox defeated Rep. David Valadao. Cox founded a nut processing businesses, giving him firsthand experience in agricultural entrepreneurship. He was also the COO of the Central Valley New Market Tax Credit Fund, where he directed money to local community colleges. On his website, he advocates for funding “free community-college, vocational school, secondary school education and job training.”
Katie Hill defeated Rep. Steve Knight in the Twenty-fifth Congressional District. While Hill’s website lacks any education-related policy positions, she is the daughter of a police officer and registered nurse. In the Thirty-ninth Congressional District, Gil Cisneros will replace Rep. Ed Royce. After being laid off from his job as a shipping and manufacturing manager, Cisneros, a military veteran, won a Mega Millions jackpot. With his winnings, he has focused on educational equity issues, particularly related to Latino students. His website’s education platform focuses on college affordability.
Katie Porter defeated Rep. Mimi Walters in California’s Forty-fifth Congressional District and a member of the Republican leadership team. Porter has strong legal credentials, having graduated at the top of her law school class at Harvard before becoming a law professor in California. Her education platform focuses on college affordability. In the Forty-eighth Congressional District, Harley Rouda, a lawyer and businessman, defeated Rep. Dana Rohrabacher. On his website, Rouda advocates for “tuition-free education at non-profit public colleges and universities” and says that “we need to promote trade school apprenticeships that equip folks for the jobs of the future in advanced technology sectors.”
To round on the new Members from California, Mike Levin replaced Rep. Darrell Issa in California’s Forty-ninth Congressional District. Levin’s background is centered on environmental issues. He has worked at trade associations and private companies that focus on clean energy, giving him insight into new and emerging career opportunities in the green tech sector. Indeed, he has stated that “clean energy drives job creation.” Levin also advocates for investing in STEAM programs and making college more affordable, and he identifies the “dire teacher shortage” as a priority of his.