A Q&A with Two State Legislators & Veterans: Sen. Michael Hastings (D-19) and Rep. Stephanie Kifowit (D-84)
What civil legal issues do your constituents need the most help with?
Hastings: My constituents most often reach out to my office regarding help with navigating veterans’ resources, direction with SSI/disability issues and, once we entered the pandemic, we helped hundreds of constituents deal with unemployment issues and navigate IDES.
Kifowit: Mostly what I am seeing are senior living issues in rental units – landlord responsibilities with regards to unusual charges, housing inspections, etc. We’re also connecting residents to rental assistance programs and housing assistance programs.
How do you think your military experience has informed your work as a legislator?
Hastings: Serving in the Army allowed me to understand how to work with a broad cross-section of society, to collaborate, and to develop innovative solutions to complex problems.
Kifowit: I think that my military experience has influenced my desire to give all my effort (110% as we say in the Marines) to my position. Many Veterans, myself included, are very mission driven and have the desire to make a difference in their community or state.
What’s the most effective way organizations can communicate the importance of their issue to elected officials?
Hastings: The best way to achieve the kind of relationship building that results in effective partnerships is to be prepared and positive in your approach. I recommend that concerned citizens and organizations request meetings through the district office and communicate through hand written notes and other personalized methods of communications.
Kifowit: I believe individuals and organizations can reach out to their elected leaders directly, or participate in town halls or events elected officials host. I often have organizations and experts speak on my Monday Morning coffee chats and before COVID, I had a monthly information session that I invited organizations and experts to participate in as well.
While people are aware of your professional accomplishments, what’s one thing you think people would be surprised to know about you personally?
Hastings: As much as I enjoy the social aspect of being a Senator, at heart, I’m introverted and somewhat bookish. I read a lot of biographies, nonfiction, and philosophy. I’m currently reading the Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday and When Saturdays Mattered Most by Mark Beech. I’m also a pretty good cook!
Kifowit: I just turned 50 on Nov 2nd – so that is an adjustment! In addition, my son has finished his first year in the Navy and I while I served in the Marines, I am very proud of my son who is a Sailor.