Single moms and the race for public office

Nayaba Arinde | 9/8/2016, 11:17 a.m.
Tenacity and fortitude is something mothers develop almost as a natural second and third string to their bow.

Tenacity and fortitude is something mothers develop almost as a natural second and third string to their bow. In between juggling all the heady mom duties, two single mothers are among the candidates on the ballot next week in the city and state primaries.

Joy Simmons and Mercedes Narcisse have been on the campaign treadmill for the past few months, hoping that despite their loaded schedules, they can take on the mantel of public servants in the political arena. They are on the ballot for New York State Committeewoman/Female District Leader and New York State Senate for the 19th Senatorial District, respectively.

Mother of two, Simmons is the chief of staff for City Council Member Inez Barron.

Simmons is running for the seat she already holds. She was appointed to be Female District Leader by a committee when the position became open when Barron was elected to the City Council. Now she is running for office for the first time.

Simmons told the AmNews, “I have juggled single motherhood with all my various heavy tasks by setting a schedule that includes designated family time, and maintaining the discipline to stick to it. Also, I’ve sacrificed nonessential activities. For example, I cut out wasting time and brain space watching television. As my children have gotten older, I have included them in many of my activities—from social justice rallies to press conferences. They’ve been exposed to real societal issues and the value of social responsibility.”

Narcisse is well-known in her Brooklyn community, the longtime resident of the 19th Senatorial District has lived in Canarsie for more than 30 years. She talked of being a “proud single mother of five and a successful businesswoman.” As a mom passionate about her children and her community, Narcisse has been a registered nurse for more than 25 years, but has also expanded her outreach to youth in the community. She spoke of her commitment to her community and particularly the youth, as she referred to her creation of internship programs for students, providing them with scholarship resources to help them continue their academic studies at the university level, and she has made it a part of her platform. “If elected, I will continue to fight for the young people in our community.” She said. “I will advocate for the full funding of our public education system, for the reduction of class sizes and for new construction to support education in our communities.”

Simmons said that balancing single motherhood with pursuing public office is all about time and priority management. She told the AmNews, “Single mothers wear many important hats, but we usually don’t get credit for the development of skills that are transferrable to the non-family world. My experience as a single mom has enabled me to become an expert in organizing, planning, time management, conflict resolution, psychology, budgeting, inner-calm and, most importantly, unconditional love. These are all necessary skills for effectively serving in public office.”