Sarah Anthony is breaking ground in Michigan. The native of Lansing, who is currently serving her third term as a state senator, was chosen to chair the Appropriations committee, making her the first Black woman to hold that position.
In her new position, the 39-year-old will be in charge of the powerful and largest Senate committee’s oversight of all state spending. As someone who never aspired to be in politics, Anthony 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 does, however, take credit for obtaining crucial Republican backing for the recently passed $82 billion budget and the innovative investment in diverse neighborhoods. She maintains that part of that results from “being a woman and being a Black woman,” and disclosed that she didn’t mind that it has shaken 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.”
However, republicans in the Senate recently criticized Anthony for lack of openness during the budgetary process. The budget is the largest in Michigan history and the first to be passed by a state legislature that is entirely Democratic after 40 years. But the “political theater,” as she likes to call it, doesn’t sway her plans.
“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.
In addition to receiving degrees from Central Michigan and Western Michigan institutions, Anthony graduated from Everett High School on the south side of Lansing.
She held the position of Ingham County commissioner prior to her tenure at the Capitol. For almost ten years, she served as the Michigan College Access Network’s deputy director, assisting in preparing students for higher education.
Anthony, a new senator from Michigan, has served as Lansing’s representative since he was chosen to serve in the state legislature in 2018.