Representative Edward Ted James’ interest in politics began in the second grade. He participated in a mock election the day before the presidential election between George Bush and Michael Dukakis in 1988. Just like any typical young boy he was excited to share with his parents what happened that day at school. After telling them there was a mock election, they asked who he voted for.
“I voted for George Bush because Michael Dukakis was too short,” said James.
His simple requirements to determine a president at the age of seven were amusing and priceless, but his parents being actively involved in politics helped him understand the importance of electing best-qualified candidates. They always actively discussed political issues in the community and that’s what eventually motivated James to become involved in politics.
James spent summers at 4H camp, joining Top Teens of America and the YMCA Black Achievers, and played for the McKinley Marching Band in high school, all which helped him prepare for his future role as a community leader. The 36-year-old alumni of Southern University and A&M College currently serves in the Louisiana House of Representatives for District 101.
After high school, James accepted an honors scholarship to Southern University. During his time there, he joined the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity; Alpha Sigma Chapter and was also a part of the Student Government Association (SGA). James said he got distracted from his schoolwork due to being heavily involved in the two organizations, and ended up losing his honors scholarship along with the SGA Presidential election.
“I couldn’t believe I lost and by such a large margin. I lost because I didn’t work hard. At the time I thought being popular was more important than being engaged with the entire student body. I didn’t take the time to be an active listener,” James said. “That experience actually formed the foundation for my service today. Everybody has a voice and it’s important that in my service I empower others by listening to and elevating their voices.”
Despite his downfalls during undergrad, James followed his dreams of becoming an attorney by attending graduate school at Southern Law School. He graduated cum laude, having served as President of the Student Bar Association. In 2006, he passed the Louisiana bar exam then went to work as Governor Kathleen Blanco’s policy advisor to help rebuild Louisiana after hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Once he completed his service with the Blanco administration, he served as a staff attorney with the Louisiana House of Representatives drafting legislation and as Special Counsel to the secretary of the Louisiana Department of Revenue. Because of his hard work and leadership, he was appointed by Governor Bobby Jindal to serve on the Louisiana Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations where his main responsibility was to manage relationships with other governmental agencies.
Being a leader is what James has always envisioned, but it hasn’t always been easy.
“At times, the blessing outweighs the dream. The general public has such a negative outlook on politics and I recognize that it may be hard to trust the work that we do.”
James’ true passion is children and educating them. He allows young people to job shadow him, but most importantly he tries to be a listening ear and support system for them. By doing so, he visits students at their schools, eats lunch with them, attends events, and assists with school projects. He also teaches as an adjunct professor at Southern University and Southern University Law School.
“Young people emulate what they see. It’s important that they see positive examples. They shouldn’t have to look to television and sports to find influences. I’ve benefited from mentors and it’s my charge to do what was done for me,” James said.
To add to his busy schedule, James is also a member of YMCA Capital Area Board of Directors, a committee member of BREC, a husband and new father to a beautiful baby girl.
“I get home and try my best to keep the phone out of my hand so I can spend time with my daughter. My wife can even tell you that my phone hardly stays out of sight. It’s hard. But the best role out of all this is being a father.”
There’s more in store for Ted as he hopes to coach Harper’s soccer team when she gets older and continue to make the community proud. “I love public service, but I certainly don’t plan on staying in the House of Representatives forever. I look forward to submitting myself to be a greater service to Baton Rouge and Louisiana. Time will tell.”
Images: Nicholas Martino