Young Leaders in Public Service with State Representative Kevin Coleman

October 27, 2021 0:44:28
Kaltura Video

Join P3E for a discussion with Michigan State Representative Kevin Coleman. October, 2021.


0:00:09.6 DeAndre Calver: Hello, good morning everyone. My name is DeAndré Calvert and I'm the Community Engagement Manager for the program in practical policy engagement. I'd like to thank everyone for attending this event this morning. We are joined by State Representative Kevin Coleman. Before we get started, I'd like to acknowledge Mariam Negaran, our P3Es tech guru, jack of all trades. She will be assisting us in the background with all the tech-related issues, and I would like to acknowledge our moderator, Chelsea Gaylord who's also online to help with the session, and the Associate Director for P3E Cindy Bank. Please note that this event is being recorded, and so allow me to introduce Kevin, he is actually a former next door neighbor of mine. I moved to the city of Westland a few years ago, and I went to the Westland City Council and working in... For Detroit City Council and working in the community, I wanted to get involved in the city. Little did I know that having a newborn at the time made that a pipe dream but it still allowed me to attend one of the city council sessions that introduced myself during an open forum, and Kevin approached me and gave me his card.

0:01:20.3 DC: We found out we were next door neighbors. Since then I have found that Kevin is one of the most engaging young politicians in the game right now, to see him pounding the pavement, meeting his constituents where they are, but also advocating for them in Lansing has just been an awesome experience. I've had the chance to volunteer for his campaigns also and just support him. He's also a friend of P3E speaking with our students, and he's also a former community partner on two of our PCLP projects, so it's great to have Kevin join us for this session. Without further ado, I'd like to turn over to State Rep Kevin Coleman.

0:01:58.5 Kevin Coleman: Well, thank you, DeAndré, it's good to be here and nice to meet everybody today and always good to see you again. Kind of a small world when two people end up next door to each other and both are engaged in government and share a lot of common interests, so it was kind of a twist of fate to meet John and to get involved. A little bit about myself, I grew up in Redford, Michigan, moved to Westland as a middle school kid and went out to Western Michigan for school, I went out there for musical theater, didn't really have a whole lot of interest in politics.

0:02:38.1 KC: Came back to the Detroit area, came back to Westland in my 20s. Actually, it was about 10 years ago, I went to a city council meeting in Westland, just kinda randomly. My cousin, Peter, who's a councilman now, had to go for extra credit for policy 101 type class at community college, and he wanted somebody to keep him company. And I was sitting there in the back row and at first I was a little bit bored, to be honest, I paid attention... I was one of those people, like a lot of people who pay attention to national politics but had no interest in local and really no idea how local government was run, but by the end of that council meeting about an hour later, I was telling myself, I need to get involved in this and come back because I was seeing people come up to the podium and speak on the microphone, and I just had the sense that we needed better representation and we needed people who were gonna listen and care, and have the kind of relationship with their constituents in Westland where you could give them a call on the phone and they would actually have a conversation with you, and I wasn't seeing that back when I first got involved. I ran for office in 2011, the first time for Westside City Council and I lost, I didn't really know much about running a campaign, I had volunteered on the school board race prior to that, but that was my...

0:04:10.2 KC: That was the only knowledge I had of campaigning. When I was in college, I campaigned a little bit for John Kerry and I campaigned a bit for Barrack Obama, but as far as being a candidate, I didn't really have a clue, and then coincidentally, at a place I lived when I was younger, one of my neighbors around the block happened to be a former mayor of Westland, and then another neighbor in the neighborhood, who lived right behind me was a former councilman who had run for mayor before, and so I knew of them. So after I lost that race, I approached them both and sat down with them and asked them if they thought I should give it another go. Two years later, I ran again in 2013, and I got elected for a four-year term to Westside Council. While I was there, I would say transparency was probably something that was most important to me and constituent services at the city level. There's a lot that local government can do to help people out and just respond to the needs of the community, and to me that was something that we needed to really push for in Westland. I really enjoyed being on city council, actually I still miss it to some degree to this day, I like the first hand kind of right there down the street from where you live kind of work that being on city council involved.

0:05:34.9 KC: I do miss that aspect of it. In 2017, I ran for mayor of Westland unsuccessfully, but we did well and I learned a lot running a big campaign like that, and then the timing kinda worked out and I had to have some people, including my cousin Peter, that DeAndré knows. Peter's on city council, the one that kinda helped me get involved in politics 10 years ago. He knew that our state house seat was gonna be an open seat because of term limits, and really pushed me to try to run for state house, and even though I had kinda burnt out my campaign donors and myself, honestly, emotionally, running for mayor of Westland and having lost, and then to go straight into a state house primary that was highly contested. It was a tough race, and I was underfunded and even a little bit late getting into the race, but I had some momentum, and we ran a good campaign, and then I got elected to the state house in 2018. So I've been here for three years now, and I represent Westland in Wayne, which is District 16 in the state house and up here, I would say...

0:06:54.8 KC: There's a number of issues that are really important to me. Criminal justice reform, healthcare issues, funding public education in our state, revenue sharing back to the city is important to me because I see how many of our tax dollars kinda go up the chain, but don't come back to our communities, making nursing homes safer and just better places to live. That's something that's really important to me. I've had family members who were in nursing homes. And going through the pandemic last year and this year, I think some of the issues that we saw firsthand in our state really showed the weaknesses of the nursing home system and long-term care for folks that might be elderly or have some kind of disability. Those are some of the issues that are really important to me.

0:07:55.9 KC: Right now, we're actually going through redistricting in the state house. And actually, all the state-level seats and federal-level seats as well are going through redistricting. So there's an independent commission made up of citizens in Michigan. And we voted for this a few years ago and now, it's actually coming into play where they're redrawing the lines. It's likely that my district will change a bit. And so a lot of people up here are really watching the way the lines fall. And I think that'll shake things up because you'll have some people who won't make it, some incumbents who won't be able to make it back or might end up running in other places. That happens every 10 years where they redraw the lines, but this is kind of unique because we have a brand new way of doing it. I think you'll see some of that get challenged in court, and it'll be interesting to see kinda how redistricting works out for the places that we live. So, hopefully, that goes well.

0:09:01.4 KC: And I would say the day-to-day of a job like this is... It's a little bit different than I expected. We come to Lansing Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday each week, and I live about an hour and 15 minutes away. But I discovered during my first term that January and February are not easy months to try to drive back and forth three days a week. And so I was getting hotel rooms. But now, I actually rent a room in a house with a few other reps that I work with, a few of them from the City of Detroit or in the Detroit area, and that's worked out pretty well. And having been here till two in the morning last night, it was convenient to be able to just go down the street a couple of blocks and rest my eyes and come back to work in the morning.

0:09:43.7 KC: It's a really interesting job. I can't imagine anything that I would enjoy more, honestly. I love helping people. I love being a voice for people that need us to speak up for them here. And I work with a lot of really good people, and that's probably my favorite thing about the job is the people. They are great people from all over the state. And I've had conversations with colleagues of mine, and sometimes they'll say things like, "Well, I don't know if I'm cut out for this. I feel like I care too much," or, "It upsets me when we see a special interest come in and kinda run us over and dominate the process and push things through." And I always say to them, "Well, we need people like you here because if you weren't here, imagine the kind of legislation that they would get." And... Sorry, I'm a little fuzzy today. I gotta drink more of this coffee, but the amount of power that they would have. We need people to speak up for everyday people up here. So that's kind of what's important to me. And I won't go on and on, but that's a little bit about me.

0:11:06.0 DC: Thank you so much, Kevin. I'd like to hand it over to Chelsea.

0:11:09.9 Chelsea: Great, thank you. Yes, Representative Coleman, thank you for sharing your background and some of your story as well. Right now, I'd like to invite our participants to raise your hand or ask a question. I know we've got a small group so really want to make this a dialogue with Representative Coleman. So if you have a question, please feel free to jump on and ask or type it in the chat box.

0:11:43.5 Speaker 4: I'm gonna jump on quickly. Sorry to jump ahead of students, but I was taken by the fact that you said that you were a musical theater major. And again, I think that that is, one, it's a great major to have so that you're comfortable in the public in public speaking, but it also shows how people come from all different walks of life into public service. Can you maybe talk about that a little bit too and...

0:12:11.8 KC: Yeah, sure, yeah. I grew up taking piano lessons, and I got into community theater, and choir as a kid, and I did plays and musicals in high school, and then obviously in college, and played sports, and stuff like that too. But up here, and I'm sure in other legislatures and probably all levels of government, you have people from all walks of life. People always say, "Well, most politicians are attorneys or doctors or certain professions," but that's actually not the case. There's a whole lot of people from... There's a lot of nurses here, there's teachers, there's a ton of teachers, there's law enforcement, there's a construction worker that got elected out of Allen Park, who was my seat mate on the floor. So I think that's important that we have representation from all different kinds of people. I wouldn't want just one profession representing us. You know what I mean? I wanna get different... And we need that too. There's diversity, a lot of diversity in the state house, but there's also, on another level, there's diversity of ideas and backgrounds too. And then... Yeah.

0:13:42.4 Chelsea: Great, and Jordan, it's great to see you. I see that you've got your hand raised too.

0:13:48.1 Jordan: Yes, thank you. Thank you, representative Coleman for being here. I might wanna talk about musical theatre, but instead I'll ask my question. A friend of mine worked on your PTLP project last year, I believe... Yeah, last Fall, on the nursing home report, and I was just wondering what the next steps were after you had that report, how were you able to turn it into legislation or use it in conversations with other legislators, that kind of thing.

0:14:17.1 KC: That's a great question, and I appreciate you bringing that up and it's nice to meet you. What we did last term, we really thoroughly went through that report and it was very helpful, there's a lot of great data, a lot of great information, and the folks who worked on it did a really good job. And I know they worked really hard on it, and I shared it with my colleagues. And we have different caucuses that work on different policy areas, so there's all different caucuses, but one of them is called the Care Caucus, so that gets into long-term care, nursing homes and different areas like that. So what I did is I shared that with the Care Caucus, and we introduced a series of bills, the whole package of bipartisan bills last term. The governor took some of our policy from some of the bills and implemented them through executive order during the pandemic, because they applied specifically to COVID care, some of them.

0:15:29.7 KC: But in general, I really feel strongly that nursing homes need more accountability, people need to be able to get a hold of the state or the department up here in order to report issues or problems, and just we need to have the back of the people who work in the nursing homes, to make sure they have resources, they're paid well, so that they could take care of folks in a humane and dignified way. So what we're doing in just the last two weeks, I've been having meetings with a couple of members of the Care Caucus. One is Rep Paulina Scott out of Detroit. She kind of has picked up the ball from... Rep Leslie Love was kind of spearheading our package. Rep Paulina Scott's kinda picked up the ball, and I'm working with her really closely to reintroduce some of those nursing home and long-term care bills to implement and to move through the process here.

0:16:36.0 KC: During the pandemic, unfortunately, and that's just something... Our workflow changed more to constituent services, people need help with unemployment and getting PPE and different resources. So, what we're doing now is we're getting ready to reintroduce the bill as a package, because most of them didn't make it through the process. Last term, we ran out of time, so we've been looking closely at which bills we wanna reintroduce and which ones we think we can get through the process now. I know it's kind of a vague answer, but we are making good use of that research and it was really helpful.

0:17:22.7 Jordan: Awesome, thank you.

0:17:23.9 KC: Yeah.

0:17:27.4 Chelsea: Thank you, Jordan. Is there anybody else who would like to ask a question? 

0:17:36.6 Cindy: Yeah, I have question. How would you say the transition was from a local level to state level, I know you say you miss it sometimes, but how did you deal with that transition? 

0:17:50.7 KC: That's a good question. There's a lot of aspects to that. Part of it is people wanna contact their representatives quite a bit more than they do their city councilmen. The thing that helped me the most with the transition was my staff, they're really attentive and caring, and they call everybody back and talk through issues with folks, and they know if somebody needs to talk to me and get me on the phone with them, we get that going. And people really appreciate it. Part of it too is, the local level is non-partisan, even though we all have party affiliations, we don't wear that on our sleeve as much as we do in the legislature.

0:18:48.0 KC: So we'll get a lot more of the partisan whatever's on your cable news stations, we hear those things more, and I'll get calls and messages relating more to that stuff, even stuff that's going on in Washington or people call me on that stuff... People still call me on their tree trimming too and even though that's stuff for city hall, I'll just pass that along. So I would say that the level, the amount of constituent services, that's probably the biggest changes. That's a lot of our work up here, especially with the pandemic the last couple of years, unemployment. We helped probably 1500 households going through that process because that was what people needed from us. So that's a good question though. I could go on and on about that one, but yeah. Thank you. Anybody else? 

0:19:54.2 Chelsea: With that, I think learning from some of the campaigns that you've been through and those that have been successful and those that haven't been... I've got a friend and former colleague who is looking at a mayoral run right now back in Colorado, and so it's been interesting to hear his insight of who he's talking to and weighing the options of making a run for political office, and so whether it's... Particularly for stepping into the public space as an elected official at city council, can you talk a little bit about some of the things that you thought through and weighed at the local level, and maybe who you... I know you've talked to neighbors and former council members, but how did they kind of help inform your decision to run and what you may or may not be getting yourself into? 

0:20:56.0 KC: That's an interesting question too. My first time running in 2011, I didn't really have much confidence, I kind of thought, "Well, I'm not somebody... I have a music background, I don't have any government experience," I kinda got talked into running, to be honest, and it was one of those things where I put my name on the ballot and just to see, people do... You see candidates do that sometimes, they'll throw their name on just to test the waters and... Towards the end of summer, that year, I got the sense that, "Oh wow, people actually do want change." So then I started campaigning late in the summer, maybe August, and I just blitzed through till November, and you have to come in the top four to win, and I came in fifth place. So it gave me a sense that, "Oh... " Even though I lost, it gave me a sense that, "Oh, okay, this is possible." And then, talking to my neighbors and different people in the community, that gave me a sense of, different things about campaigning like, for example, you don't knock on every door, you knock on doors of people who are likely to vote, or you wanna talk to absentee voters before you talk to people who might vote in-person on election day. Just things that might seem obvious to people in government, but I didn't really have a sense of that at the time and...

0:22:25.9 KC: And then just things like messaging, or how do you communicate to voters that how you might be different than who's in office now, without seeming like a jerk. You know what I mean? So, there's ways to communicate and get your messaging out. And of course, things like fundraising, and then even... I had... The neighbor that I mentioned who had been on council, he was an older guy in his late 60s, and I kinda saw him as a mentor because my first few months on city council, he was really helpful getting me acclimated to city government, municipal finance, budgeting, working with other council members, and just kind of political know-how in general. So I think it's helpful to hear different perspectives, and especially at the local level, a lot of times you have different factions, and I think it's important to not box yourself in, especially when you're getting started. And I think I made that mistake in a way that I box myself in as kind of the anti-administration guy, which of course some people liked, but... I don't know if it was necessarily a bad thing, but I think strategically, you might wanna open yourself up and be your own person instead of boxing yourself in and listen to the different sides, because you can... You don't have to be a follower, but you can also find a way to represent people in the community as a whole without really boxing yourself in. So, yeah.

0:24:23.0 Chelsea: Thank you. And trial by fire of you're drinking from a fire hose when you get right into local government, and so entering that in a new space, I'm sure it was pretty overwhelming at first.

0:24:36.4 KC: Yeah. And then coming to the State level, it felt that way too, and back to transitioning up here, it was the amount of issues that touch State government or... It's a crazy amount of issues, on a day-to-day basis, it's like anything you can think of, mining rights, or healthcare, or insurance, local government. It's just anything you can think of. So the amount of learning that you have to do to be on top of the issues is crazy, but I like to read and I like to learn, and I like to talk to people, so... It's a lot of work, but it's very rewarding.

0:25:19.1 Chelsea: Okay. Thank you. Jordan? 

0:25:24.4 Jordan: Yes. Thank you for those responses, it's very interesting to hear about that initial dive in to the political world. To bring it back if I could, to the nursing home issue again. I was wondering about your relationship with the executive branch on those kinds of issues. I interned with the Aging and Adult Services Agency over the summer, which has now been re-organized and I don't fully understand exactly, it got moved or something. But I'm also an assistant with them this semester. And so I'm just curious to hear how you... I know you mentioned wanting to increase access that nursing home residents have to State resources, like the long-term care ombudsman perhaps, and I was just wondering how that relationship... How your relationship with them works and how you find that partnership.

0:26:20.1 KC: That's interesting that you said you interned with them over the summer, is that what you said? 

0:26:25.1 Jordan: Yeah, with the Aging and Adult Services.

0:26:27.1 KC: Oh, great.

0:26:27.7 Jordan: But not the long-term care, elder abuse prevention side, but I got to see some of it and I'm interested in that, hypothetically.

0:26:34.3 KC: Yeah, I think it is an area that needs attention. We all have... Most of us have grandparents, parents... And if we're lucky enough we'll live to be old enough to maybe be that old too or need care at some point in our lives so it touches everybody. Specifically, one of the bills that I introduced last term was to have the long-term care ombudsman's information required to be posted at the front of any nursing home or long-term care facility, that way there was a way to contact the State if it was necessary. And then working with the governor, like I said, her team implemented some of our policy into the pandemic borders. But they've been good to work with and receptive to our ideas.

0:27:46.0 KC: I think this is something that her administration agrees needs work. And I think it's something that it's not really a political issue, when you take out some of the politics of the pandemic. As we move away from that and into just policy in general, I'm finding people to be more receptive. I would say it's a good working relationship, especially on this issue. But I would say in general, there are things where I pass bills through the House and then I've gotten word, oh, the governor's gonna veto it. But we don't take those things personally or at least I don't, because I don't expect everybody... When you have 110 reps and 38 senators and then an entire administration and the governor... And it's kinda like local government too, you don't expect everybody to agree and shouldn't take it personally at all... So, she's been good to work with.

0:29:02.2 Chelsea: Great, Jordan, thank you for that question. Cindy.

0:29:05.8 Cindy: Yes, so that just made me think about... We live in such partisan times. I'm just wondering what your experience has been like working across the aisle, if you...

0:29:21.2 KC: Yeah, so it's an interesting dynamic because I have some colleagues, honestly, and I won't name names, but some of them... I feel like the partisanship gets in the way of the day-to-day, sometimes, or they'll say things like, well, I don't talk to those guys and I find that... I don't think I could work that way because it's a numbers game when you wanna pass legislation, and if the folks on the other side of the aisle have a majority of the seats, well then how do you expect to pass or get things done? So really it takes compromise. Some of my favorite people up here are on the other side of the aisle and I just look at it as a difference of perspective. Now I know there are some issues like... Oh, I won't get into 'em, but there are some issues that are... We're almost so far apart that it's like we're almost in two different realities, but I don't... That doesn't touch us as much I think at the State level.

0:30:34.0 KC: But there are kind of interesting moments where you'll see a little bit of the friction or the tension, and people have words. I think we saw a little bit of that last night on the House floor where, I think it gets late enough at night though that some things get said that wouldn't normally get said. But in general, I work really well with the other side and they've helped me get some of my priorities through that... And I appreciate that. And the thing that is nice too is they don't... There are bills that I passed that they have helped me pass and they didn't expect anything for it. And a lot of times you would think that they would expect me to bend on some things for them in order to help me out, but it doesn't always work that way. There are a lot of people here that wanna just get good things done.

0:31:37.3 Cindy: Thank you.

0:31:39.7 Chelsea: Thank you. DeAndré.

0:31:42.0 DC: One more quick question, in this digital age that we have now, a lot of keyboard warriors out there, being your Facebook friend, following your official posts and whatnot, how do you deal with some of the crazy comments that you get when you're out in the community or when you make a vote? Or, some of the suggestions that people may have? How do you deal with it? And also, how does it impact you? Sometimes people, whether it's celebrities or people in the view, they say, don't read the comments, but I would assume it's a very natural thing to kinda click on them, so what are your feelings on some of those? 

0:32:21.6 KC: Yeah... I kinda learned the hard way. Back, especially back when I ran for mayor, the city was really divided, and it got very nasty. So I had a lot of trolling and people trying to dig up whole pictures of me or just say things that were crazy, that weren't even true. And I would sit there and try to respond and set them straight, and then it took me time to realize that that's what some folks who do trolling, they want you to respond so that they can just pile on more. So there are times and even still I'll see comments sometimes that are just nasty and I can tell they're not trying to have a constructive conversation, so I just don't respond. And it doesn't really bother me anymore at all. It's just part of the atmosphere. Because I think when you're in office it attracts some of that, but then again, I think social media is helpful because it kinda gives me a gauge sometimes as to how people might feel about certain issues.

0:33:39.4 KC: So there are sometimes negative comments, but I'll read them and I'll say, "Oh, that's a different perspective that maybe I didn't have." And it's kinda interesting to see what different people are saying. So yeah, it doesn't really bother me anymore. I think back when I was a little more green to politics, it would get in my head a little bit or I thought I had to kinda set people straight, but I've come to realize that there's just that trolling type personality out there, and you gonna get those people who wanna do that and they don't... If they wanted to have a conversation with you, they'd probably give you a call on the phone and actually talk to you, to just throw out nasty comments, it's not worth engaging with, really, so...

0:34:37.6 DC: Thank you.

0:34:40.9 Chelsea: And a very good question, this day and age too, 'cause I've thought a lot about, I don't know if I have skin thick enough to be [chuckle] in office.

0:34:49.8 KC: Well, yeah, I think you might surprise yourself, you never know. It's something that you, over time, you kind of, you realize it's just part of the atmosphere. So honestly, you get used to it. And I don't really think that's necessarily a negative thing. You just kinda realize that you're gonna get all types of people, with all kinds of ways of communicating, and some people are just not as nice as others. So...

0:35:20.5 Chelsea: Okay. I've got a question. I'm familiar with how the Colorado State Legislature navigated COVID, but wasn't able to follow Michigan in the same way. I'm curious from... The last 19 months has been quite a whirlwind and particularly for legislators, in trying to craft policies and respond to a pandemic in real time. I'm curious on what that experience has been like for you and how you've found ways to stay in contact with your constituents and inform your policies when maybe the capital was closed and you couldn't get that feedback on bills like you were able to before.

0:36:14.1 KC: Yeah, that's a great question. We closed for only about three weeks actually, and it was kinda interesting, because there were still stay-at-home orders, but we were driving up and then crowding into rooms with over a 100 people in them, and it was kind of a weird... We were masked up and trying to be careful, but the rooms in the capital aren't as... I mean, they're big rooms, but when you got over a 100 people in them, there's not a ton of room in there, and so it was kinda weird to go to work and live that. But like I said, our focus kinda shifted away from policy. For a good amount of time, we went to constituent services, 'cause it was an emergency and we had people calling us who were having trouble putting food on the table and were losing their jobs and going through all kinds of, really going through all kinds of hell, honestly. It was a rough, a rough experience for a lot of people.

0:37:19.0 KC: So we tried to stay tuned in though, and I leaned on actually some of my friends at the local level, at City Hall, and the mayors of both cities I represent and council members and I tried to stay tuned in to what they were hearing. And I talked to hospital staff that I know, and nurses that I know, just to try to... 'Cause you watch TV or you read the paper, you go online and see what's on social media, but to talk to people who are living it and going to work or working in a hospital every day or a nursing home. I had a cousin who's a manager of a nursing home and she would tell me how it's really going. And sometimes the feedback she was giving me was kind of unique because it's not something you... You weren't getting those real life stories in the media. So I just tried to stay as plugged in as I could, even though we were way more isolated or separate than normal. So does that kinda answer your question? Is that why you... Yeah, okay.

0:38:34.3 Chelsea: That's helpful. Thank you.

0:38:35.4 KC: Yeah. Do you have aspirations to run for office? [laughter] It kinda sounded like that a little bit.

0:38:46.1 Chelsea: I don't know about that, a million dollar question. Maybe if I ever, ever did, I would probably start at council level as... I... I also... I love local government, and very similarly I like to be on the ground at the community neighborhood level.

0:39:03.7 KC: Yeah.

0:39:05.3 Chelsea: So, I... [chuckle] Maybe this recording will pop up some day if I ever choose to run.

0:39:12.5 KC: Yeah, you never know what can happen so, I would say stay open-minded.

0:39:19.4 Chelsea: Yeah, thank you. I know who to call for advice later. [laughter]

0:39:24.9 KC: Anytime.

0:39:29.1 Chelsea: Other questions? 

0:39:32.4 KC: So, just to... Not to rush things but I got about 10 more minutes. I got a meeting at 12:30, just to let you know.

0:39:44.1 Jordan: I'd be happy to hear your favorite musical or play...

0:39:48.2 KC: Oh, that's a good one.

0:39:48.3 Jordan: That you've performed in or that... Just to watch.

0:39:51.8 KC: So, performed in I would say 'West Side Story,' which actually was in high school but it was just a cool... Really cool musical. And then...

0:40:02.1 Cindy: And what was your role? What was your role? 

0:40:03.8 KC: I played Riff.

0:40:05.0 Cindy: Okay.

0:40:06.1 KC: Yeah, it was fun. And then, I would say my favorite musical actually, it's kind of an odd one, and it's going way back, 'Hello, Dolly!' And it's probably because it was the first musical I ever saw as a kid, and I just thought, "Wow, that is something." And to this day, I still love 'Hello, Dolly!' And, kind of a funny story, I had a chance to see Hamilton on Broadway with the original cast. The tickets were like... I don't know, close to a $1000 or something. But, I also had the option the same night to see 'Hello, Dolly!' with Bette Midler, and so I went to see 'Hello, Dolly!' And I told people that and they were like, wanted to rip my head off, but hey... I just... And yeah, 'Dear Evan Hansen.' I actually did see 'Dear Evan Hansen' on Broadway too; somebody asked about that. That was really... Actually, a really powerful musical, really beautiful, beautiful musical too. Yeah, I still love... I still love music and theater so, sometimes I wonder if maybe later in life I might... If I got a little more time on my hands, maybe kinda dip back into that a bit. We'll see.

0:41:22.9 Chelsea: Can I actually jump in about that? 

0:41:24.3 KC: Sure.

0:41:25.7 Chelsea: So, how... How did that background prepare you for your current role? I'm sure that communication skills and being able to be a good communicator basically, how did that help you I guess prepare you for what you currently do? 

0:41:42.7 KC: Yeah, that's a good question. I think... The obvious part is being comfortable on stage or speaking or communicating using your voice, but I think the more nuanced part of it is is, when you're in acting, you have to really explore the mind of maybe other people or other characters and kinda get in their heads. And, I was always interested in psychology too, and I felt like that kind of connected with acting. And so I think as a public servant, it's made me more empathetic. So, I try to really... When I'm voting on something that I know is really gonna affect people's lives, I try to kinda really understand that lived experience and... And actually I did... It actually never occurred to me that maybe that kinda went all the way back to theater, but I think there might be something there so yeah, thank you.

0:42:54.0 Cindy: I'm gonna... I'm putting in the chat, just... Granted this wasn't a musical theater, but many years ago when I was living in DC, Arthur Miller gave the Jefferson Lecture, and it was sort of on the art of politics and politicians in the art. So, it just might be of interest.

0:43:12.2 KC: Oh, okay, I'm gonna check that out.

0:43:15.1 Cindy: Yeah.

0:43:18.4 Chelsea: Yeah. I love that, there's such an intersectionality in policy and all the backgrounds that people come from. Representative Coleman, as you said too. Curious, I wanna be mindful of your time too, so... Does anybody else have another question? Nelson, Jordan? DeAndré? 

0:43:45.8 DC: Yeah, thank you so much Chelsea. I just wanna thank Kevin for your time today. I know it's been probably a hectic day for you and, as much as I hope you get another cup of coffee, I hope you get some sleep tonight. I think that... [chuckle] I think that would be more important. And if everyone can unmute and join me in thanking Kevin for his time today, I really appreciate it.

0:44:05.5 Cindy: Thank you.

0:44:06.0 Chelsea: Thank you.

0:44:07.4 Jordan: [0:44:07.4] ____.

0:44:08.1 KC: Thanks everybody, it was my pleasure, it was really nice meeting everybody and great questions and a great conversation, I really enjoyed it. So, thank you DeAndré for the invite and Chelsea for moderating, and everybody, it was a really good experience.