We interview an inspiring politician or someone working to help politicians do their job for each briefing. This week, we spoke to Jaime Arroyo, City Councillor in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA. Jaime is an alumnus of our Global Public Leaders Programme, and previously worked supporting small businesses in under-represented communities.
How would you describe your political path?
My path to political office was unexpected. I was inspired by my former boss and mentor, Jess King, who ran for Congress. After getting involved in her campaign, I was inspired to run for Lancaster City Council as a way to serve my community and become politically active. It was a way to get involved and share my community's voice in the decision-making process. Over the past few years, I have been reminded time and time again that politics is not a spectator sport. We have to get involved.
What are the most useful lessons you've learnt on the way?
One of the most important lessons is the importance of living my values. As an elected official, I have to understand that I won't always have all of the information, and there will be people who are pushing me to go in different directions. It's during these challenging times that I use my values to guide me, so that I know my decisions are rooted in integrity and compassion for the residents I serve.
"Politics is not a spectator sport. We have to get involved."
What are the top three things that could be done to get trusted, ethical and courageous politicians in your area?
Engage residents at all levels of the process. Encourage community leaders to get involved in their local government. Educate citizens on their rights, the process and how to get involved politically and in their local government.
What ideas and/or people are inspiring you at the moment?
Former Georgia State Representative Stacey Abrams is inspiring me. She has been a powerful force, mobilizing voters and advocating for voting rights at a time when US democracy feels fragile. I believe she will be a powerful political force and inspire the next wave of young politicians looking to make a difference and improve our government at all levels.
It is people like Stacey and my former boss Jess who remind me that, even if you don't win an election, you can still win the hearts and minds of citizens who want positive change and encourage them to make it happen.
What story do you want communities to tell about politicians?
I speak with a lot of people who have lost trust in politicians and in government. Unfortunately, many communities haven't seen the progress that has been promised to them for generations. I want people to feel encouraged and to remember that politicians are people. We have the power to decide who represents us in the US. That is a privilege that we can't take for granted. We have to fight for that right. Leadership matters. Our involvement matters. We can't sit on the sidelines.
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