Meet Sarah Anthony, The Young Senator from Michigan Who’s the First Black Woman to Oversee State Spending

Sarah Anthony is making history in Michigan. The Lansing native, who is currently serving her third term as a state senator, was appointed to chair the Appropriations committee, making her the first Black woman to do so.

The 39-year-old will be in charge of the powerful and largest Senate committee’s oversight of all state spending in her new role. Anthony, who has never wanted to be in politics, spoke with MLive about what this opportunity means to her.

“This was never, ever on the bingo card. It’s all bonus,” she said. Despite being aware of the importance of her position, Anthony maintained she does not dwell on her gender or color.

She added, “I’m never going to be, you know, the person who’s yelling and screaming. “I don’t like the gamesmanship of politics. That doesn’t resonate with me.”

Anthony, on the other hand, claims credit for securing critical Republican support for the recently passed $82 billion budget and the innovative investment in diverse areas. She claims that part of this is due to “being a woman and being a Black woman,” and she admits that she doesn’t mind if it shakes up the institution a little.

Before taking up her new position, her predecessors were all white men.

“When I look at that wall of the men who have like, done this job before me, I know that they didn’t have the same level of community connection,” Anthony said. “Particularly like communities of color, they expect you to show up. They expect you to be present for the church service, and you don’t just show your face, you stay for the whole church service.”

Republicans in the Senate, on the other hand, recently chastised Anthony for his lack of transparency during the financial process. The budget is the largest in Michigan history and the first to be passed by a fully Democratic state legislature in 40 years. But the “political theater,” as she refers to it, has no effect on her goals.

“Hopefully, my legacy is being able to have an ear to the streets and bring those perspectives here. So that they can see themselves in the state budget, which in my mind is one of the most powerful mechanisms for change in politics,” she said.

Anthony graduated from Everett High School on Lansing’s south side, in addition to getting degrees from Central Michigan and Western Michigan.

Prior to her time at the Capitol, she was an Ingham County commissioner. She was the deputy director of the Michigan College Access Network for nearly ten years, assisting in the preparation of students for higher education.

Anthony, a rookie senator from Michigan, has been Lansing’s representative since being elected to the state senate in 2018.

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