Krishanti Vignarajah is a force to be reckoned with.
“I hope Marylanders will agree the best man for the job is a woman,” Krishanti Vignarajah announced, officially declaring her entry into Maryland’s gubernatorial race.
“I am running for Governor because I am worried my daughter will not have the same opportunities my parents gave me when they brought our family here when I was a baby girl.”
Vignarajah has never held elected office before, but she was policy director for former first lady Michelle Obama and senior adviser to Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. On Aug. 9, she announced that her name would indeed be on the ballot in Maryland’s 2018 election.
Vignarajah, who helped launch Obama’s Let Girls Learn initiative in 2015, wants to bring her passion for improved access to education to the people of Maryland.
In her campaign announcement, she lists education, the economy, drug addiction, infrastructure, and the environment among her priorities. Just as important, she says, “We need a new generation of leadership that will make progress at home, while standing up to a White House that threatens the very values that unite and define us.”
A woman, an immigrant, and a new mother, Vignarajah embodies both the American Dream and the current president’s worst nightmare.
In an interview with Cosmopolitan, Vignarajah discussed her family’s journey (they fled Sri Lanka on the brink of civil war when she was nine months old for the U.S. with $200 in their pockets) and reflected on whether they would even be allowed to enter the country had their trip happened in 2017 instead of 1980.
“President Trump, he can demonize immigrants to our country, but the truth for me is there’s a family just like mine out there who applied, and they waited their turn, and they want to work hard and pay their taxes and raise a family and live a decent and safe life here,” Vignarajah told Cosmo. “Just as immigrants before them have for generations. I know that that story is not only personal to my family, but it’s fundamental to the American experience.”
2018 is shaping up to be a big year for women in politics.
It turns out that electing a sleazy, misogynistic, accused sexual predator president led a record number of women to take matters into their own hands and consider running for office. Go figure.
EMILY’s List, a group dedicated to helping elect pro-choice Democratic women, saw a huge jump in the number of women showing interest in running for office around the country. According to Vogue, 920 women expressed interest to EMILY’s List from the beginning of 2015 to the end of 2016; more than 16,000 have done so in 2017 alone. That’s massive.
Vignarajah’s advice to other women thinking about running for office? Just do it.
Though she did tell Cosmo that it’s important to “think long and hard about whether [running for office] makes sense,” she cautioned prospective candidates against becoming paralyzed by indecision or overwhelmed by negativity.
“Don’t doubt yourself,” she said. “As I was making the decision, there were a lot of considerations. But you have to listen to your heart. And for me, I know that I should run because I’m worried that my baby girl and all of our children would not have the same opportunities that I had growing up in Maryland.”