DULUTH, Ga. — Around the new millennium, a seven-year-old girl and her family moved from the Middle Eastern country of Jordan to the Peach State. Almost 22 years later, that little girl grew up to make history not once, but twice, in Georgia’s 2022 midterm election.
While some people will say it’s taboo to talk politics, Ruwa Romman would say it’s a passion.
“Being a politician means being a public servant and I think we really need to re-center that," she said.
The granddaughter of Palestinian refugees, Romman’s been interested in politics since she was 18. But even with the interest and a master's degree in public policy from Georgetown, she never really had intentions of calling herself a lawmaker.
“I did not plan to run, for the record," she said.
In early 2022, Romman attended a training specifically for Muslims and minorities to get them ready to run for office. A reporter attended the event and wrote a piece about Muslim women in politics.
“She started the article with 'Ruwa Romman is contemplating a run for office' and I was not contemplating a run for office,” laughed Romman. “We launched my campaign 15 days after the article came out because of how intense the response was from the community about me running.”
She didn’t intend to run, but when she decided to, she intended to take it seriously.
“My team and I knocked 15,000 doors in 10 months, sent out 75,000 text messages, raised a quarter of a million dollars for the entire year.”
Not only did Romman power through; she won the seat for Georgia House of Representatives, District 97. She will now represent parts of west Gwinnett County. The 29-year-old is now the first Muslim woman serving in the Georgia House of Representatives and the first Palestinian ever elected to any office in the state.
Wanting to share the news the next morning, Romman sent a quick tweet detailing her historic win. In less than a day, the tweet amassed nearly 54-thousand likes.
“To see that has been very overwhelming in the best way, but we were not prepared or expecting that," she said.
And in less than 12 hours, someone created a Wikipedia page in her honor, which she would find out about during her interview with 11Alive’s Hope Ford.
“No. Are you serious? This is breaking news ladies and gentlemen! I didn’t know that. Okay, now I gotta go find it,” Romman said with a giggle.
The newfound fame is fun, but Romman is not naïve about the job that lies ahead.
As a part of Georgia’s minority party, she’s aware of the political landscape she finds herself a part of. However, she’s committed to learning, working, and representing.
“Not only am I becoming involved but now I’m becoming the decision-maker,” said Romman. “I also am even more committed now than ever before to be authentically myself. I got this far by being me and I never want anyone to come into this space feeling like they cannot be themselves.”
Her purpose is to ensure Georgians have fully funded education, expanded access to healthcare, economic opportunities, and voter rights protections.
Romman wants to see more representation at the table. She's proud to now have a seat and hopes to encourage others in minority groups to join the political space.
“This country has been diverse for a long time and positions of power have not represented that diversity, but at the same time, I feel like it’s an incredible moment of celebration of all of the hard work that has gone into it in the last decade," she said.
And speaking of decades, it only took two and some change for Romman to go from arriving in America to representing a portion of Americans. Romman didn’t hesitate when thinking of what she would tell her 7-year-old self, who at the time was still learning English.
“I really want to tell her that ‘yes, you are going to be the odd person out for a long time but the community that you build and the friends that you have are the most sincere people that you’ll ever know and that will make it all worth it.’”