A Woman in Politics

Working Tirelessly for Tomorrow's Future

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Melissa DeCastro

It is too broad a sweep to discuss all women in politics in short form writing. I am however a woman in politics and it is particularly worth discussing how being a woman in politics affects my life, my choices, my family, and the decisions I ultimately make when I am sitting in board rooms and courthouses discussing decisions that will affect the future. I have always been political. I chose to be Susan B. Anthony for famous person day in third grade. I am proud of our country and the right to vote. I could not be the woman in politics I am today without my ever supportive and understanding husband, my family and my friends.

When we look at politicians on the news or read about them, there is a missing crucial element. Most of the politicians are in these positions that allow them to be in various places and away from home speaking in the evenings, and attending fundraisers and community events at all hours, because behind each successful politician are loved ones that understand that schedules are difficult to determine in advance, and often weekends which could have held entire days of family time, are somehow incorporated into bringing the whole family to events.

I am a New Jersey Freeholder for Salem County. This title harkens back to the days when only those that held property free and clear of any encumbrances could hold this position, although today it simply a nod to its roots in English property law which still classifies land as either freehold or leaeshold. A Freeholder runs in a county wide election and is in essence the top of the county, and overseas many aspects from the budget, to the landfill, to different aspects of social services.

A politician is a life of early mornings and late nights, and endless reading and public speaking. There are events that drive the community, and politicians need to go parades on holidays, and be away from their families. It is families that are crucial to every politician. I have a two year old son who was barely eight weeks old when I was sworn in and began working in politics. As a baby he was taken to many events from formal meetings to county fair fireworks and grand openings and he has grown in two years to love going to special events and seeing some many unique things. My husband often remarks to me there is a certain pride in Salem County. Older men sit with us asking if they can join our picnic table, and they tell stories of the county and how it has changed and stayed the same, which stories truly deserve to be captured for the generations.

Every day I feel so blessed and lucky that I am able to represent this county and this community. I hope that we can work together for a better tomorrow. I hope that more women in the future consider entering public service. It is a calling. It is hard work, but it is worth every meeting, every long drive alone to a different area, because with each well thought out decision and considerations made, the future is in our hands. It is in our hands because those around us allow us to speak up and serve the public to the highest degree of our ability. I hope my now two year old son, learns to public speak, think logically, rationally, and with the help of his father and our families I hope feels strength from the constant support of those around him and is always guided by his integrity.

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