How do you learn HOW to be a Representative?

State Representative Dr. Sheryl Y. Kennedy is the newly elected State Representative from Genesee County’s 48th District.  Sheryl grew up and raised her family in the Davison/Richfield area of Genesee County.  Previously, Rep. Kennedy was a public school teacher and administrator, and was actively involved as a volunteer for many elections on behalf of the Democratic Party going back to the mid-1990s. 

As of Wednesday I will have officially been a member of the House of Representatives for one week.  Recently I was asked, “How do you learn HOW to be a Representative?” That is a great question, and I am willing to share my experiences I move forward through my first year as an elected official.  

I think it is important to say first, that I think bringing some kind of life experience or expertise to the job is vital. I have been told that the best way to serve is to focus on no more than three things, and become an expert in those things.  I can see already the wisdom in this advice because right out of the chute – ideas, bills, legislation, executive orders move at the speed of light. I am reading as much as I can while I am also trying to get caught up on all of the changes that occurred in education as a result of lame duck.  It is VERY helpful to me that I am pretty current about education law in Michigan, and therefore have less to learn in this area when considering policy.

Second, I think that the last several years of teaching public policy at the University of Michigan-Flint, has helped me to understand as well as possible the legislative process. However there is so much more to it than this. There is a legislative process, there is a logistical process, there is a political process, there is a rules process, literally for everything that you do. Nothing happens that doesn’t first have to be simultaneously viewed through all of these lenses, and also the lens of what is right for the district, state and party.  The House of Representatives has a well-supported system to get you on board. Everything from completing W-2s, to learning about the state of the state, to learning how to disagree without being disagreeable. It is all like drinking from a fire hose – and so far we freshman seem to be keeping up and learning to be friends and build relationships in the process.

Then there are the events. Only a legislator for less than a week, I have already submitted several bill proposals, co-sponsored some orphan bills, and attended so many events. Be it a visit to Flint from Governor Whitmer, or bringing a Tribute to read at an Eagle Scout Court of Honor, events are when I get to meet my constituents and they get to meet me.  No longer in campaign mode – I am now their Representative. It is my humble honor to meet them and serve them.

What I am finding I love most about my new life as a Representative of the 48th District is becoming a member and participating in really intelligent conversation and dialogue regarding what challenges are currently affecting our state and Genesee County.  I have been pleasantly surprised at the expertise of my government colleagues and most appreciative of the support shown by my Genesee County colleagues in the House. I love thinking out loud and being challenged by others – all doing our best to make the best decisions for our citizens.  In the end, I believe this is the best way to achieve good policy.

I look forward to what will come in the following years as I serve my community in this way.  Please know that if you have any questions, concerns or praise that you would like to share with me, my door is open.  I can be reached at

Post written on January 13, 2019.


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