Thursday, August 21, 2008

Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones

You have likely heard the news that Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones passed away yesterday after suffering a brain hemorrhage. I wanted to take a moment to honor her in some small way.

I had long had a soft spot for this woman. She was feisty. She was liberal. And she was from Cleveland -- my second hometown, the gathering place of my extended family and the home of Grandma M. My extended family is a rather conservative bunch, so Congresswoman Jones intrigued me. An outspoken liberal from Cleveland, wahoo!!!

I had the great pleasure of meeting Congresswoman Jones back in 2002 when I was organizing an event for the National Women's Political Caucus. It was an awards ceremony for media coverage of women's issues. We had the ambitious goal of having a member of Congress present each award. Congresswoman Jones was one of the first to say yes.

She arrived at the event with a huge smile on her face and kept up that enthusiasm throughout the ceremony. My knees were shaking when I greeted her, I was so nervous and thrilled. "Now this is someone I want to be like," I remember thinking.

It seems dangerous to idolize politicians too much these days. You never know what you don't know. Maybe Congresswoman Jones was not the wonderfully good-natured person she appeared to be. But I refuse to have doubts now. More importantly, I have no doubt that she was in politics for the right reasons, that she took her job seriously, that she cared about her constituents, and that she cared about the world. I also have no doubt that Congress desperately needs many more members like her.

Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones' death is an enormous loss for all of us. I will miss her.

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