Waterbury educator and 2016 National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes won the Democratic nomination for the 5th Congressional District seat last night.
In her speech to cheering supporters in Waterbury, Hayes said, “People told me I had no chance and I had no business trying to do this.” But Hayes, who has overcome numerous challenges, including being a teenage mother and growing up in public housing, said her win “proved everyone wrong.”
“Jahana’s win is a victory for all of us,” said CEA President Jeff Leake. “She will use her personal experiences and knowledge of the issues to help create a better, brighter future—not just for the middle and working classes in Connecticut, but across the U.S.”
Leake, along with CEA Vice President Tom Nicholas and CEA Treasurer and President of the Waterbury Teachers’ Association Kevin Egan, were at the candidate’s victory party and thanked educators for supporting Hayes.
“Educators are very excited about electing one of their own to Congress, but we couldn’t have done it without community-wide support,” said Nicholas.
“It was truly a great night,” said Egan. “But this is only Act 1. We must come out again on November 6th for Act 2, and send Jahana Hayes to Washington.”
Hayes is part of a new trend of teachers running for office that has prompted an outpouring of support, not just from fellow educators, but from students, parents, and community leaders.
“This new trend of teacher activism and the support it is receiving from the public is exciting and refreshing,” said Nicholas.
Leake added, “Jahana is a shining example of exemplary educators who advocate for their students and never give up. In Congress, she will fight for public education and collective bargaining and will stand up against those who try to cut funding that hurts students. Jahana will ensure that the voice of all her constituents is reflected on every issue. She is exactly who we need in Congress fighting for all of us.”
“I am lucky to call Jahana my friend, but I am going to be even luckier to call her my representative,” said Egan.
Hayes defeated Mary Glassman for the nomination. She will now face former Meriden Mayor Manny Santos in the November election.