Assemblywoman Solages recalls her political journey
Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages addresses students and community members about the current poltical climate. Melanie Haid/ Hofstra Chronicle
Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages spoke to students and community members about New York policy and legislation on the 10th floor of the Axinn Library, a place where she was formerly employed.
With an introduction by Executive Dean of Public Policy and Public Service Meena Bose, Solages addressed a range of topics including voting, climate change, the opioid crisis, her rise to her current title and children and education. She fielded questions from the student audience about her personal approach to government and the way that she feels she can make the most impact for the community at large.
From these questions, the assemblywoman painted a picture that showed how she rose from a Hofstra undergraduate majoring in health and human services to an alumna initiating change via her role in government. Solages described her start as a woman who was looking for a source of income graduating during the 2007 recession. Without a job, and looking for money, she went to work for her brother, who was already involved in government.
Solages, the first woman of Haitian descent in the New York Assembly, made family, community and education her priorities. She was first told that “there are two things that you don’t do as a woman in legislature: don’t get a dog and don’t get pregnant,” and recalled this information, emphasizing that this should not be a choice that women in politics, or anyone, should have to make. “You shouldn’t have to choose between your family and your paycheck.”
Leslie Roldan, a senior economics major, related directly to the focus on diversity that was highlighted in Solages’ panel. “I’m the one Latina that’s in my classroom, and it’s the same thing: you have a different perspective of the world, of politics and what’s happening in the community.” Solages drew attention to the fact that most policymakers in higher positions are male and usually white, and thus diversity is important.
Junior political science major Sofiya Rubenova also agreed on the importance of diversity, but mentioned that varied ages of representatives are important. “[Solages] mentioned that a lot of young people are starting to get involved in politics,” Rubenova said. “It’s important because a lot has changed rapidly since certain people have been in office.”
Other students had similar views about diversity, but thought it should not be the main focus of politics. “I’m totally fine with wanting an ethnically or more gender-diverse workplace, but I think a little too much emphasis is being placed on it,” said junior political science major Chris Kostulias. “I think that the most qualified person should win, and I think it should be a pure meritocracy,” Kostulias said, and reiterated that he thinks society should focus on eligibility rather than a candidate’s diversity factors.