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Stafford aims to improve community

caines | 3/15/2012, 5 a.m.

State rep says mentors have made the difference

Liberty City has always been Cynthia Staffords home, from childhood to high school and even today as she completes her first term as state representative and she says shes proud to represent. I was born and raised right here and graduated from Miami Northwestern High, said Stafford, 44. As long as I can remember, Ive wanted to be a lawyer and find ways to help the Black community reach its full potential. She recalls being a little girl and watching her parents work to improve life at home and in their neighborhood. They were, she says, her biggest inspiration. I was attracted to law after watching my father, a police officer, who would take me to work with him, she said. I would go with him to court and watch the lawyers doing their craft. My mom was a secretary at Matthew, Brannon and Mapp one of Miamis first Black law firms. It didnt take me long to decide what I wanted to do when I grew up.

Let the record show

Stafford represents Floridas District 109 and has an impressive and often-cited list of credentials. But some say its the little things she does, like mentoring former foster care girls or assisting Haitians to acquire temporary protected status. We grew up together and what continues to impress me most is that [Cynthia] has never forgotten where she came from or about the people who put her in office, said Tangela Sears, 46, a political consultant. A lot of our Black leaders have gone off to Tallahassee and only returned when it was time for reelection. Thats not Cynthia. She may be part of the minority party now, but that has not deterred her from keeping the Black press and her constituency informed on the key issues. She has stood firm on every issue that could impact the Black community. Bernadette Morris, CEO, Sonshine Communications, has known Stafford for over 20 years and says her friend has always been about empowering others. She has led an exemplary life and that is clearly seen in her most recent role as our state representative, Morris said. I think it has a lot to do with the people who have mentored her like Carrie Meek and of course her parents. Cynthia is simply returning the favor and blessing all of us in the process. Stafford got her start in politics as an aide for Congresswoman Meek who says that when they first met she saw something different in her. Shes a dutiful old woman in a young womans body, said Meek, 85. Cynthia had this light in her eyes and a maturity that is rarely seen in a young person. She wanted to be the best that she could and I did everything I could to help her achieve that goal. If we want to improve life for our race, we have to reach back, set a good example for our youth and try to help them flourish.

Stafford thanks her sisters in politics

Making a lot of money was never the reason I became a lawyer, she said. For me, its all about helping people. I think about women who served before me: Beryl Burke, Yolly Roberson, Gwen Cherry, Carrie Meek, Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall, Frederica Wilson, Larcenia Bullard I hope I havent left anyone off the list. Weve all had our various professions but we also had something in common as Black women: we remained focused and part of a common cause to uplift people and to make sure Blacks got their fair share. They, along with my mother and grandmothers, are the reason that I am who I am today. By D. Kevin McNeirkmcneir@miamitimesonline.com