State Senator Kesha Ram Hinsdale Hopes to Become Vermont’s First Woman and Person of Color in U.S. Congress
- The daughter of an Indian immigrant father from Punjab and a Jewish American mother, she is currently among three Democrats vying for the state’s lone seat in the House.
Vermont State Senator Kesha Ram Hinsdale has announced her bid for the U.S. Congress, becoming the third Democratic woman to launch a run for the state’s lone seat in the House. If elected, she would be making history as Vermont’s first person of color and the first woman elected to the state’s federal delegation. In November 2020, she became the first woman of color elected to the Vermont Senate, placing her alongside five other State Senators for the Chittenden County district.
“I’m running for Congress to be Vermont’s fighter for working families, our democracy, and our climate,” Ram Hinsdale said in a Jan. 13 statement, a copy of which was sent to American Kahani. “I will bring the Vermont Way to Washington, uplifting the voices of the people above corporate interests and right-wing extremists who are threatening our health, our planet, and our fundamental rights. Now is the time to dream and deliver, to advance a bold vision for our multicultural democracy while building a responsive government that meets the everyday needs of Vermonters.”
On her website, Ram Hinsdale promises to keep “Vermont and the nation moving forward: fighting for a Green New Deal that protects and expands middle-class jobs, championing Medicare for All that puts people before profits, securing the fundamental voting rights that uphold our democracy, and guaranteeing access to abortion care no matter your zip code.”
She joins Lt. Gov. Molly Gray and Senate President Pro Tempore Becca Balint, to replace the U.S. Congress seat soon to be vacated by Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), who is seeking higher office in the U.S. Senate.
Vermont is already the whitest state in the country, with more than 94 percent of the state’s population being white. In Chittenden County, which Ram Hinsdale represents in the state Senate, this number falls to 90.3 percent.
While Ram Hinsdale “acknowledges the history-making aspect of her candidacy, she remains laser-focused on the larger fight,” her statement reads. “I grew up in a working-class, multiracial family, and we experienced economic insecurity when the family business went under. That’s why the fight for the dignity of working people is deeply personal to me,” she said. “I know the America that exists when you pull on your bootstraps until they come off. I also saw the America that opens the door a crack and lets the light in just long enough for you to glimpse opportunity and keep pushing forward. I am running because the stakes are too high for all of us, but especially the most vulnerable among us, to settle for politics as usual.”
The daughter of an Indian immigrant father from Punjab and a Jewish American mother, who opened an Irish pub, Ram has broken numerous barriers throughout her career as a social scientist, legislator, equity consultant and leader. When her parents divorced, her mother became a single mom raising three kids.
She was 22 when she was first elected to the Vermont House of Representatives in 2008, becoming the youngest person ever elected. She served in the body until 2016 when she left her seat to run in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor. She lost out to David Zuckerman, a Progressive and Democrat who ultimately won the election.
In 2020, Ram Hinsdale became the first woman of color elected to the Vermont Senate in 2020. She came in third in the six-seat Chittenden District with 46,504 votes, according to unofficial results posted on the Vermont Secretary of State Election website.
Ambitious from a young age, Ram Hinsdale’s political journey started in the 5th grade. She was first elected as Student Body President of her elementary school in Los Angeles.
She graduated from UVM with a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources Planning and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. While in school, she was a member of Slade, a student-run ecological cooperative. She took a sabbatical from politics after she lost the 2016 Democratic primary race for lieutenant governor. The respite from politics gave her time to attend the Harvard Kennedy School and reevaluate what matters to her, she has said in previous interviews.
Last summer, she married “the love of her life,” Jacob Hinsdale, in a Hindu-Jewish-French Canadian-Congregationalist ceremony on the shores of Lake Champlain. The couple lives in Shelburne, with their “beloved, rambunctious” dog Miso, her website says.
In a Sept. 16 op-ed in American Kahani, Ram Hinsdale wrote that during the wedding, “it was surreal and special to see our families and chosen community bridge political, cultural, and social divides for the one thing that makes us the most brave — love.” She noted that the “gathering was made all the more meaningful because it revealed the best of Vermont’s and our nation’s values against the backdrop of great discord and division.”