ELECTION 2012: Virgin ready to continue tenure for second 3-year term
An OU law student with a family history in law and political involvement is running unopposed for her second term in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
Emily Virgin, a 2009 OU graduate with a degree in political science and a current OU law student, first ran for the Oklahoma House of Representatives in 2010, when the incumbent no longer could run because of term restrictions.
“I started looking at that, thinking, ‘You know, this could be a good shot,’” she said.
Virgin said her desire to run for office was inspired by a community service project she and other law students did the summer before law school. They worked at the courthouse where they helped women in abusive relationships fill out protective orders.
Many of the women told Virgin that the resources for help in obtaining these protective orders had been cut by the state.
“I thought there were issues that should be addressed that weren’t currently being addressed,” Virgin said, “and I think that was kind of the light bulb.”
Virgin said she has had success in her first term, citing three or four of her bills that were signed by the governor.
“Some of my legislation made sure that special education teachers were qualified and made sure that they were deemed qualified by the State Department of Education,” she said.
Additionally, Virgin helped to passed a bill making it possible for businesses to treat and reuse their water for golf courses and to fulfill other needs other than drinking water.
“It was really important in Norman especially,” she said. “We’re a very conservation-minded community, and water is definitely a big issue right now.”
Virgin also said that education is an issue that is particularly important to her.
“I see the cost that every student has to pay [for college], and so one big thing for me is making sure that college is affordable for every student that wants to go,” she said.
Political science senior Sam Camp said he thinks the state of Oklahoma should have a similar university program to that of Massachusetts: There, if a student gets a certain SAT score or is in a certain percentile of his class, he can get free tuition at Massachusetts public universities.
Camp, the chairman of the College Republicans, had met Virgin through a friend, then helped to bring her to campus for a bipartisan event at the Honors College.
“We just agreed to disagree on partisanship,” he said.
“I live in Emily’s House district and have seen Emily and her mom go door to door to meet with constituents and distribute campaign material,” said Ann-Marie Szymanski in an email.
Szymanski is a political science professor who had Virgin in class and said that she “stood out [in class] for being well-informed and industrious.”
Politics runs in the family for Virgin.
Virgin’s brother also went to law school, her father is a lawyer, and her grandfather is preparing to retire from the position of County Commissioner for Cleveland County after 23 years.
Having grown up around campaigning with her grandfather, Virgin said she always knew she wanted to be involved in politics.
Virgin hopes to stay in the Oklahoma House of Representatives for 12 years and practice law in private practice after graduation.
“I don’t know after the legislature if I will continue in politics, but I know that I will always be involved with politics and with helping and serving others,” she said.