2 Valley natives making impact in politics

Some good friends recently reminded me that, from time to time, I should devote column space to Youngstown natives who are doing good things outside the Mahoning Valley.

In light of the end of the election season last month, I want to focus on two ex-Youngstowners who are making strides politically.

They are Erica Crawley, who is a Democratic member-elect for the Ohio House of Representatives to represent District 26, and Rochelle Robinson, the first black American and woman to serve as mayor of Douglasville, Ga.

Crawley won the general election in November. Her district is in Franklin County, and is near Columbus.

Erica’s mother, Stephanie Vaughn, who lives on the city’s South Side, said her daughter worked hard to get elected, spending time pounding the pavement and knocking on people’s doors to get their vote.

She said her daughter has always been driven to be a success. “She also is an advocate for children and for justice for all people,” Vaughn said.

On her website, crawleyforohio.com, Erica shares her story. It is fascinating, uplifting and shows what you can do by believing in yourself and pursuing your dreams.

She was born and raised in Youngstown. She was raised by a single mother, who, like most of her family, worked in a factory making car parts at Delphi Packard Electric.

She is a Chaney High School graduate and a Navy veteran, where she was stationed in Norfolk, Va. While in the service, she was awarded the National Defense Service Medal and the Navy & Marine Corps Achievement Medal for providing continuous support of two carrier battle groups, four amphibious ready groups and numerous auxiliary steaming units during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Crawley is a first-generation college graduate. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in criminology with a focus on juvenile delinquency from Cleveland State University. She also has her master’s degree in public administration from Walden University.

She spent years working with organizations advocating on behalf of children and families with the Cuyahoga County Job & Family Services, YMCA Head Start/Early Head Start Program, Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children, and the Black Child Development Institute-Atlanta Affiliate.

She was accepted into Capital University Law School in Columbus to pursue her dream of becoming a lawyer. She was a David D. White Scholarship recipient and a past participant of the Columbus Bar Association’s Minority Clerkship Program.

Upon graduating from law school, Crawley was awarded the 2017 Graduate of the Year for the Black Law Students Association, Capital University Law School Dean’s Ambassador Award and Order of the Barristers.

She is a member of the Columbus Bar Association, American Bar Association, Women Lawyers of Franklin County and the League of Women Voters.

Crawley is the mother of twin girls. She also volunteers her time with many community organizations.

I have known her dad Eric, a Vietnam War veteran, her uncle James Crawley, and her twin aunts Stacy and Tracy, for many years.

Congratulations Erica. I am confident you will represent your district well.

Robinson was elected mayor of Douglasville in 2015. Douglasville is located 20 miles west of Atlanta.

She also is a product of the Youngstown City Schools and went to Youngstown State University.

Like Crawley, she also served her country in the Army National Guard.

She has worked in federal, state and local governments, which includes an eight-year stint with the Central Intelligence Agency.

In Georgia, the mayor has worked for Clayton County Mental Health and served on the Douglasville City Council.

She has held appointments to several boards and authorities in Georgia, including vice chairwoman of the Douglas County Board of Elections.

She is a Rotarian and serves on the Douglasville/Douglas County Water and Sewer Authority Board of Directors and is on the executive committee of the Douglas County Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.

Mayor Robinson is an ordained minister and has been married to Pastor Jeff Robinson for more than 20 years. Together, they have three children: Joel, Olivia and Ana.

From time to time in 2019, I would like to highlight the accomplishments of more Valley natives making positive contributions in their new communities, especially those in the minority community. So make sure you send them my way.

Ernie Brown Jr., a regional editor at The Vindicator, writes a monthly minority-affairs column. Contact him at ebrown@vindy.com.