Congresswoman Terri Sewell

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Congresswoman Terri Sewell visits Tuscaloosa RotaryTerri Sewell has never been one to give up on a challenge, or to back down from her position. So when the newly-minted Democratic representative of Alabama’s seventh district got to Washington, she got right to work standing up for the people she represents.

Chosen as president of her Freshman delegation of nine Democrats, as well as  Senior Whip and Regional Whip for her party, Sewell learned quickly (of course) that in Washington things work a little differently. “Seniority matters,” she said, and she told the stories to prove it.

Honored as one of the few chosen to accompany the President into the State of the Union address, Sewell nevertheless had to wait her turn, far down the line, to speak to him beforehand. The likes of Harry Reid and other luminaries took pride of place. But that didn’t stop Representative Sewell from making the most of her time. She told the president she was there to stand up for the hard working people of her district, and he told her to do just that.

Sewell has been hard at work on every level. Her office has developed a “guide to grants” for members of her district who could benefit from federal funding, and she has started a seventh district newsletter to keep people informed. On the policy front, she has sought balance. She advocates working with state and local agencies, for example, to cultivate partnerships between the public and private sectors. In that connection she offered praise for strategic plan for Tuscaloosa recently adopted in the wake of the April storms.

Sewell is also a strong advocate of setting aside partisanship in favor of sound decisions, and she has backed her talk with action. Recently she was asked to support environmental legislation favored by powerful regulators and leaders in her party, including the President himself, who called her personally to ask for her support. Terri refused, politely, because in her view the measure would have been harmful to the interests of hard working families in her state and district. She was only one of eighteen Democrats to cross party lines to vote against the proposal.

Other tough issues and tangled debates await. Sewell seeks an approach to our budget woes that balances cuts with revenue concerns, and emphasizes investment in education and technology. She seeks a similarly balanced position on upcoming debates over free trade, as the Unites States faces the renewal of treaties with nations like South Korea. Sewell wants a deal that is good for Alabama as a whole, but one that also takes into account the interests of all workers and families.

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