Lawrence legislator nominated for national award celebrating women in public office

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Kansas Rep. and Lawrence local Christina Haswood has been nominated for the Gabrielle Giffords Rising Star Award, which recognizes an “extraordinary woman” serving in state or local office.

Haswood (Diné) was one of three Native Americans elected to the Legislature in 2020, and at age 27 is among the youngest. As a Democrat serving District 10, Haswood represents more than 23,000 people living in an area of Douglas County that includes portions of southeast Lawrence and Baldwin City.


She is a graduate of Lawrence High School and earned an associate degree from Haskell Indian Nations University, before moving on to receive a bachelor’s degree in public health from Arizona State University and a master’s degree in public health from University of Kansas Medical Center.

An announcement about the nominees said Haswood’s background in public health provided her with a perspective needed to take on issues currently facing Kansas residents.

“Kansas state Rep. Christina Haswood is a brave trailblazer committed to improving the lives of her constituents,” said Laphonza Butler, president of EMILY’s List, a political action committee that supports democratic female candidates for office. “Haswood has a distinguished record of advancing opportunity, representation, and equality in the United States.”

First presented to former Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams in 2014, the award was established to celebrate women who show commitment to community, dedication to women and families, and determination and civility. The award is named for Gabrielle Giffords, a former U.S. Representative from Arizona and gun control advocate who was shot and nearly killed 11 years ago during a constituent meeting in a Tucson grocery store parking lot.

On Facebook, Haswood expressed surprise and gratitude for the nomination.

“I’m speechless and honored to be a nominee for such a prestigious award,” she said.

Haswood, who won more than 70% of the votes in a 2020 Democratic primary and was unopposed in the general election, ran on a platform including passing sensible gun laws, expanding Medicaid, cutting food sales tax, funding public education, and supporting LGBTQIA+ equality. She currently serves on the State-Tribal Relations, Water, Agriculture, and Health and Human Services committees.

Last year, Haswood sponsored a bill that gives the state attorney general’s office the ability to coordinate training regarding missing and murdered Indigenous people for law enforcement agencies throughout Kansas. The office, according to the legislation, should conduct the training in consultation with Native American Indian tribes, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center, and other appropriate state agencies.

Kansas Senate Minority Leader Dinah Sykes said Haswood had a gift for developing coalitions and being an advocate for the community. She cited Haswood’s ability to tap into a younger generation of voters and leaders.

“Representative Haswood’s professional and lived experiences bring fresh, important perspectives to each piece of legislation she works on,” Sykes said in the announcement. “Christina also has an unparalleled ability to meet people where they are, whether that’s legislators in the state house or young Kansans on TikTok.”

The other five nominees for the award are Vernetta Alston, North Carolina state representative; Kate Gallego, Phoenix mayor; Cecelia González, Nevada state representative; Tishaura O. Jones, St. Louis mayor; and Bee Nguyen, Georgia state representative.

The Rising Star Award is chosen with community input. Visit this link to cast your vote.

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