Continuing a Life of Service – A Conversation with Georgia State Senator Kim Jackson
By Anna Musky-Goldwyn
Kim Jackson had a lifechanging experience at the age of 13 when she and a group of students spent a day visiting local firefighters, EMTs, and other community workers before ending up at City Hall. There, she listened to the first black mayor of her town talking about issues that, even at 13, she knew mattered to her. Though she would have her sights set on elected office a little bit later in life, it was that moment at City Hall that began her trajectory towards civic engagement.
At Political Playlist, we had an opportunity to interview Kim, a 35-year-old Democrat, who was just elected to the Georgia State Senate. Inspired by seeing some of herself in politicians who came before her (Shirley Chisholm, the first black Congresswoman; Simone Bell, the first out, queer State Representative in Georgia; Clementa Pinckney, a black pastor and member of Congress from South Carolina), Kim ran for office to create change from the inside.
In our conversation we discussed how her background as a pastor gives her particular insight into how policy decision affect people on a day-to-day basis. Kim also spoke about how being a pastor for a local parish of unhoused people has given her ideas of small things to tackle that might help the fight against homelessness – issuing IDs to those formerly incarcerated, providing programs for foster children after they age out of the system, and supporting those with special needs as they age. Kim recalls how her father’s work as a social worker for Child Protective Services and her mother’s work as a community nurse impact the issues she plans to tackle in the State Senate.
Many voters feel disconnected from their elected officials, many not even trusting that anything substantial gets done on a daily basis. As we spoke, Kim voiced her enthusiasm for working with her future Republican colleagues.
Kim comes from a rural background though she now lives in suburban Atlanta (still on a farm!) and knows that because of her upbringing, she can connect with those on the other side of the aisle who represent more rural districts. She views herself as a ‘bridge’. While she is committed to fight for what she believes in, she also is looking forward to the moments of agreement and bipartisanship to come – both attitudes that should give voters some optimism.
We went on to chat about the vibe in Georgia as the Senate runoff approaches and her admiration for candidate Raphael Warnock (who she’s worked with before). To wrap up, we asked the question we always like to ask – what advice she has for young people or those who may feel locked out of our political system.
She encouraged people to stand up and get engaged – when you engage, the policies that are put forth will reflect your interests, if you sit out, we’ll continue to see more of the same.
Watch our conversation with Kim above to hear more about her and her goals in office. As we learn more about young politicians across the country, we can start to see ourselves reflected in those who are elected to lead us.