Kalamazoo College Alumna Runs for Minnesota House

Kalamazoo College Alumna Runs For Minnesota House

By Emma Theiss, The Index at Kalamazoo College

Kalamazoo College alumna Brittany Edwards ‘04 announced her candidacy for a seat in the Minnesota House of Representatives District 46A, with plans to launch her campaign next Thursday.

“The state legislature is a place where you can counter what Trump is doing,” Edwards said. “We have to address climate change, reproductive rights, healthcare.”

Edwards is passionate about doing what she can to bring about change. To the students here at Kalamazoo College and elsewhere she says, “I’m asking you to run for office. I want more young people and women to run for office, that’s part of why I’m running. The process needs young people, women, diversity.”

And Edwards knows the power of young people — her career in politics began at just ten years old, when she helped run her father’s campaign for city council. 

“When I was a kid, I would play sandlot baseball, and adult leagues told us we couldn’t play there because they had priority — I asked my dad to run for city council to fix that,” she explained. He said he would if I ran the campaign. He won and eventually became mayor. I saw firsthand how to affect change.”

Her career in politics continued after graduating from Kalamazoo College, where she earned a Masters in Public Policy, and then a Master of Arts in Educational Administration from the University of Minnesota. She later served in the Peace Corps in Honduras before working for such institutions as the Minnesota State Senate and the University of Minnesota. Edwards also worked in Hennepin County which has the largest population in Minnesota.

Edwards’ education at Kalamazoo College has been influential throughout her time in politics. She says her personal philosophy as a candidate (and, potentially, as a Minnesota House Representative), is the college’s motto, “Lux Esto.” More than a decade after graduating from K, Edwards still believes the college makes students “better human beings.”

“We want to be a light in the world, right?” she said.

Edwards also believes the college helped to make her an “interdisciplinary thinker,” which she trusts will be helpful in a position where “you hear a spectrum of different perspectives and issues, and have to be able to represent them.” Additionally, as a former Editor-in-Chief for The Index, Edwards feels her time at the school newspaper directly translates to her campaign. 

“As editor, you’re compelling a whole team of people to volunteer their time and efforts, who are juggling many priorities,” she said. “You need to compel volunteers and investment when you campaign.”

A defining moment of her political career occurred during her study-abroad her junior year at K while en route to Rome from Madrid. Prior to the trip, she had intended to go into the field of journalism, but upon hearing that U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota was killed in plane crash a few days before his 2002 election, she decided to change her career to politics. 

“He was a hero in Minnesota,” Edwards said. “He was an example of what politics should look like.”

If elected, Edwards hopes to follow Wellstone’s example, vowing to “champion” issues like student debt, healthcare, and climate change. The next step in Edwards’ campaign process is to secure the nomination of the democratic party with the support of 60 percent of democratic delegates, which will likely be decided at the Senate District Convention on March 11, 2018.