"Strong Families. Strong Guam." It was the slogan of the successful campaign ran by freshman Sen. Regine Biscoe Lee.
When she thinks about where she's recently planted her feet—the 34th Guam Legislature—she remains close to the essence of that slogan. "I think a really big consideration before I decided to run my campaign, and before moving forward, has always been my family," Lee said.
At 35, she's the mother of two young girls, an 8-year-old and a 3-year-old. The motivation to run sprung up from a conversation with her family years ago, particularly with her curious first child. Back then, she dipped into public service working on policy stretching from the Guam legislature to Washington, D.C. Her work experience also includes community advocacy and stints in the private sector for marketing and advertising firms before she opened her own small business doing similar work.
"My husband's a firefighter, and I have friends who are teachers, reporters, and things like that. It's very easy to understand what those jobs are. But public relations, communications, and a marketing consultant, that's difficult to break down for children,” she said. It was really difficult for me to describe that to my daughter. In a basic way, I'd try to explain it to my 4- or 5-year-old that I help people learn about what's going on in the community. I help people's ideas come together. My daughter would always ask me every day when I pick her up from school. I'd ask her how was her day, and she'd always ask me, 'Mommy, what did you do today to help people,' because she knows that's my job, to help people."
From there, Lee began to consider her own strengths and skills, and how to effectively use them to help people in the community, and to build a strong Guam. "The more I thought about it, the more that desire, that inspiration, coupled with all the different things happening in the community. People are concerned with public safety issues, people are concerned about education for their kids. Literacy is a really big issue in my household. I think the whole community could be better served if people really put that in the forefront. I was thinking about ways we could improve in those areas. I started really thinking about it. I thought maybe I'd take the big leap and maybe run for senator," she disclosed.
To her surprise, many of her friends and family saw her political ambitions coming, except for her parents. With very young children, it could be a difficult feat, a challenge, they told her. They were unsure if she'd be able to find a balance to being both a busy public servant and a mom. "They were very concerned about me, and I appreciate that. Once they realized that this is what I was going to do, they got behind me; my family came together 1,000 percent, and they came together and supported me in a way I'd never thought. I knew they loved me and they always wanted me to be successful. But this campaign brought out the best of us. The way they envisioned Guam and the way they know how driven I am and committed I am. They're like, ‘Ok, we've got to get behind her because we know she's going to do great things.’ That was very humbling for me," Lee said.
But taking that big leap meant she wasn't going to leave her family behind. Even during the campaigns, it was very common to see her two little girls trailing her. "Again, I want to always show them what Mom does. We have to balance my husband's schedule, so when he's on duty he's on duty for 24-hours at a time. That's a little bit of a challenge to get everyone's schedules. We have school schedules for the girls. One daughter is involved in swimming, my other daughter is in ballet, so it's about making sure everyone is ready to go on time and everybody's teeth are brushed in the morning. It's definitely a feat, but we're able to make it work. I'd be lying if I said I’d do it all myself. I have an incredible support system. That's one of the reasons I moved back to Guam. My family is here, my parents are here, my husband's parents are here, and everyone chips in. Teamwork makes the dream work. It really does take a village."
With a foundation laid from her own family values, the new senator aims to give opportunities to the island’s youth with strong education programs, as well as promoting entrepreneurship and small business. “I really want to be able to give all of our young people, all of our children as much opportunity as they possibly can. A lot of that is literacy, really strong educational programs, and also promoting entrepreneurship and small businesses. We're really trying to help small business owners to do what they do to help keep the economy growing and strong. Those are all things that are really important to me,” Lee said.
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About the Author
Guam born and raised, this contributor has an affinity for island life, people, food and culture. Got a story idea? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.Follow on Twitter More Content by Lacee A.C. Martinez