Jahana Hayes's Profile
Connecticut 5th Congressional District
Jahana Hayes is an American success story. Raised in poverty, a single mom at age 17, she used the public education system to lift herself up. At age 26, she decided to “at least try” to fulfill her dreams by enrolling in a community college. She eventually earned a master’s and a 6th year degree in Education Administration and Supervision before returning to the neighborhood where she grew up to teach social studies. In 2016, President Barak Obama presented her with the National Teacher of the Year Award. She offered this advice to students around the world: “Always know where it is you are trying to go but be very flexible in how you are going to get there.”
People's House Project proudly endorses Jahana as a candidate meeting our principles for election to Congress. She:
• Has first-person experience with the economic crisis
• Directly represents America’s diverse working class
• Is more connected to her community than to elites
• Will not make a good villain for the other side to campaign against
• Holds Progressive economic priorities central to her campaign
We believe Jahana Hayes will provide the House of Representatives with an invaluable influx of energy and understanding, and that she will be a passionate and incorruptible advocate for the people of Connecticut’s 5th Congressional District.
The 5th District is like the tale of two Connecticut’s. You have some of the wealthiest communities in the country only a few miles away from some very poor areas. It’s a microcosm of society.
I grew up in the district, in the largest housing project in Waterbury. It was not a place where people thrived. My mother was an addict and my grandmother raised me. She taught us that all people have value and dignity, and that has been a guiding principle in my life. She didn’t have much, but she gave whatever she had. We lived in a house where, if people were hungry, she fed them. She had so much love to give I could only hope to be half the woman she was.
I had my daughter in high school and was sent to an alternative placement to complete my schooling. I eventually enrolled in a community college, and then a four-year university, and then I became a teacher. Education saved my life.
I was a teacher in Waterbury for 15 years. In 2016 I was named National Teacher of the Year. That took me out of my comfort zone. I had to work with legislators. I met all kinds of people. I traveled the world and then I came back, and people appreciate that.
All those experiences help me connect with my students. I was them. I lived unemployed, homeless, working poor. I know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of the aid. It’s something many people are experiencing, and my life has taken me through all of those classes, so I have this ability to speak to those experiences with fidelity. I’ve been able to mobilize young people and get them to be givers in the community. I think I offer them an ending, like, “This is possible.”
When Elizabeth Esty announced she wasn’t going to run, people started telling me I should run. I’ve always been involved locally. I’ve been advocating for people my whole adult life. I do a lot of service work in this community. I was the mule who helped other people get elected, but run myself? I spent a couple of weeks of discernment thinking about all the reasons I couldn’t do it. And then I thought, “Why can’t I do it? Who’s going to speak for these kids?”
I used to tell my students if you see a problem figure it out, don’t just complain about it. I know I can be impactful. I decided to run.
When I travel this district, I don’t hear people talking about the Russia investigation. They’re talking about jobs. We need to have an emphasis on getting people trained for careers. We haven’t paid enough attention to our infrastructure for years and there are places where there is no mobility at all. Because of Newtown, I will never let up on common sense gun reform. These are some of the things this district is calling for. Our best resource is the geography and landscape, and that is threatened. The 5th district has polluted rivers and waterways and brownfields that must be remediated. These are the things people are discussing with their families, and these are things Republicans don’t even want to talk about.
This district needs a representative with the ability to build consensus, who is willing to travel the state and hear the concerns of people, and then take that information back to Congress. They need someone who’s a regular person with regular experience. Congress is supposed to be a broad spectrum of people in all age groups and from all backgrounds, who will represent all people. That is the job of a Congressperson, and that is the job I want.