By Nick Daggers
It is that time again when Americans debate politics and prepare to the head to the polls. BACKBONES recognizes four candidates running for office that all have a spinal cord injury. This post is not meant to be a debate on the issues but to highlight four individuals who have not let their spinal cord injury get in the way of serving their community.
Darren Jernigan – Is currently on the Nashville City Council and is now running for the Tennessee State House. While in college he suffered a spinal cord injury leaving him a quadriplegic. We got to ask Darren a few questions about his campaign. www.darrenjernigan.com
BB: Why did you decide to seek elected office?
DJ: I ran for office because I had a genuine desire to see things around me become better. I want to see our neighborhoods stronger, community safer, and our schools with a productive environment to learn.
BB: Did your SCI play a role in you deciding to run for elected office?
DJ: No, I studied political science before my accident and have always had an interest in public service.
BB: What lessons have your learned living with your SCI that you think have prepared you well to run for office and be an elected official?
DJ: It’s given me the ability to empathize with others who have obstacles and challenges in their lives, and to take that information and turn into a positive to help those in need.
BB: Do you think that voters view you differently because of your SCI?
DJ: No not differently, I think voters see it as a part of my life that I have overcome, or as a challenge that I have met and this gives them encouragement and motivation to help our campaign.
BB: Have you used your campaign as a chance to advocate for people with disabilities and/or raise awareness about SCIs, and, if so how?
DJ: I have not; but simply being a candidate in a wheelchair, and a current elected official raises awareness, which I think is great.
Jim Langevin – Serving in Congress since 2001. He was elected to represent the southern half of Rhode Island. Before being elected to Congress he spent six years as the Rhode Island Secretary of State, and before that spent six years as a State Representative.
Injured at the age of 16, from a gunshot wound, Langevin has not been shy about standing up for those with disabilities. As a member of Congress he has worked tirelessly to expand stem cell research and was a sponsor of the Christopher & Dana Reeves Paralysis Act; which set out to enhance research in paralysis and improve rehabilitation and quality of life for those living with paralysis.
In honor of the 20th Anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act, a lift was installed in the House chamber so that Langevin could be the presiding officer. He is the only member of Congress to have an spinal injury.
Wanda Rohl – Wanda is dreaming big, and running an all-volunteer run campaign to represent Illinois’ 16th district in the US House of Representatives. After an ATV accident left Wanda a paraplegic, she went back to school to earn a masters degree in social work and quickly went to work trying to improve the lives of her clients.
She is running for office because she knows first hand what it is like to struggle and wants to become a voice for those in our country that need the most the help and support. She sees her struggles as something that have made her stronger and more aware of the challenges people face everyday. www.rohlforcongress.com
Stan Morse – While in high school Stane injured his vertebra while skiing. Since then he has gone to college, law school, and has been a practicing attorney in the state of Washington with over 30 years experience.
He recently completed a four year term on his hometown’s city council and his now running for the Washington State House of Representatives. He is running because he believes his 30 years of legal experience give him a great ability to understand the complex and complicated issues facing the people of his state. www.stanmorse.com
EDITORS NOTE – please note that by highlighting these candidates it by no means equals an endorsement of any campaign or candidate.