At age 32, Assemblywoman Maria Rodriguez-Gregg (R-Medford) is one of the youngest members of the state Legislature.
Elected last fall to her first term, the Marlton mother of two said her motivation behind getting to Trenton was a desire “to create positive policy,” particularly for millennials.
“There’s certainly apathy when it comes to elected officials,” Rodriguez-Gregg said. “Coming from that younger generation, I wanted to step up and do something and have my voice heard.”
She’s quickly sought to position herself to tackle the state’s economic issues. Just last month, Rodriguez-Gregg held a roundtable discussion at the Statehouse featuring business leaders from a wide range of industries and sectors, seeking insight on New Jersey’s business climate.
“I think when I first came in (as) a young woman, a mother, there was an assumption that I was there just because I was concerned about women’s issues. Really, I’m concerned about economic issues and job issues and job creation. It was (about) trying to get a seat at that table, to have a voice in that arena,” she said.
And as was the case with the roundtable event, sometimes getting a seat at the table means creating your own table altogether.
“Sometimes, that’s what you have to do,” she said.
Rodriguez-Gregg recently sat down with NJBIZ to talk millennials, business and what has surprised her most in her first year in Trenton.
NJBIZ: Do you feel that your age gives you any type of advantage or disadvantage in Trenton? How does it shape your perspective?
Maria Rodriguez-Gregg: I think it’s a complete advantage because it does give me a more real-time perspective of what issues not just young people face, but I’m a mother as well, so parents (and just what) your everyday person in New Jersey faces. But definitely, from a younger perspective, it does give me a better real-time perspective.
NJBIZ: There’s a sense among young people that Trenton, and Washington as well, doesn’t understand their needs. Are you in a unique position to really understand some of the issues facing younger New Jerseyans?