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10 To Watch: Marcia Ranglin-Vassell

The Incoming State Representative for House District 5 is fighting for a $15 minimum wage.

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Name: Marcia Ranglin-Vassell
Occupation: Incoming State Representative, House District 5
Age: 56
Hometown: Eleven Miles, Bull Bay, Jamaica
Day job: English Language Arts teacher at Providence Career and Technical Academy

On Primary Day (or, as we know it in this all-Democratic state, Election Day) last September four candidates backed by the Progressive Democrats won upsets against incumbent lawmakers. By far the most significant victory was that of Marcia Ranglin-Vassell, a Providence schoolteacher and first-time candidate who unseated House Majority Leader John DeSimone, a 24-year incumbent. (She later won an easy victory in the general election, despite a last-ditch write-in effort by DeSimone.) Key to her appeal was her vow to fight for a $15 minimum wage. “I firmly believe that families should be fairly and adequately compensated for their work,” she says. “It’s unconscionable that families are working up to 80 hours per week and still live in poverty.” Though the issue has struggled to gain traction in the past, there is increasing support for it across party lines, and it was recently added to the official platform for the Rhode Island Democratic Party. With a larger and more emboldened slate of progressives at the State House, and new voices like Ranglin-Vassell’s speaking for Providence’s underrepresented populations, this could be the year the fight is won.