Like father, like daughter. Mary-Ann remembers being a child in a middle-class home in Pawtucket, RI hearing her dad type diligently on a manual typewriter; he had a tendency to compose letters there every other week. What was awestrucking was that Mary-Ann's father was a self-proclaimed "gadfly", challenging the status-quo of society. To whom he wrote persistently to were congressmen and senators. His thesis usually centered on the need for universal healthcare. His persistence was rewarded by a senator inquiring about his concern. From that moment forward, Mary-Ann sparked a passion for politics. At the age of 15, she took to the streets campaigning for POTUS candidate George McGovern and later for the mayor of Pawtucket. At some point, Mary-Ann moved to Raleigh, NC to get involved with the Democratic Party. While in Raleigh, she grew concern for public sanitation. It must have been genuine because, eventually, a friend of hers suggested she run for City Council. Mary-Ann laughed.
Even after initially rejecting the idea, Mary-Ann was curious. "I thought, 'If I lose, it'll be okay and could be fun. What's the worst that could happen?" Mary-Ann told me. So, she grabbed her clipboard and took the streets to ask 50 people if she should run. To this day, Mary-Ann has held the office of a City Councilor for 10 years. The humble title hasn't been short of its lessons. Besides doing the right thing (regardless of public opinion), trusting your gut and trying new things, the biggest lesson she shared with me was peculiar. "Don't tell people what to do with their kids or personal property." To be specific, she meant domestic garbage disposals. When the council made a quick call to ban garbage disposals, there was major public backlash. So much, a radio station brought Mary-Ann on for a live interview about the issue. "I said in the interview that we were wrong. I should have inquired a committee. So, we removed the ban," Mary-Ann admitted. I'll tell you, Mary-Ann is the first official I've ever interviewed. I'll also tell you, it was my most delightful time inquiring about someone's life, so far. Though she is in office, I met a person just like you and me. She's human.