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Philadelphia Rep. Joanna McClinton Breaking Barriers In Pennsylvania Politics

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- An elected official from Philadelphia is breaking barriers in Pennsylvania politics. This comes as the commonwealth's legislature will be making history, having two female leaders at the helm.

"I'm really excited to be the Democratic leader," Rep. Joanna McClinton said.

McClinton, of Southwest Philadelphia, will soon become Pennsylvania's first woman to serve as the minority leader in the House or Senate.

"It seems as if we're turning the way we've always done things upside down," McClinton said. "You know, we've always had male leaders."

McClinton worked as a state representative in Harrisburg since 2015, and now with her new position, she's working on a bold agenda.

"I look forward to partnering with our colleagues from Philadelphia all the way to Erie County in northwestern Pennsylvania to make sure our schools are fairly funded, to make sure we have a living wage," she said. "You know, I was a low wage worker. All through law school, I waited tables."

That's right. Her career of serving the public is a long way from when she was serving tables at the Bala Cynwyd Olive Garden.

"You always did better at dinner than you did at lunch because, at lunch, everyone wants the special. It was like $5," McClinton said.

At the time, she was working her way through law school at Villanova University. But when she starts as Pennsylvania's minority leader next month, she says she plans to look out for Philadelphia and its suburbs.

"It's very helpful for people who are leading the city like the mayor, like the district attorney, to have me on speed dial and be able to talk about their priorities, their issues, and know they have a true advocate," McClinton said.

At the same time that McClinton shattered Harrisburg's glass ceiling so did her counterpart, Republican state Sen. Kim Ward of Westmoreland County.

Ward made state history, becoming Pennsylvania's first woman majority leader.


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