In a special election on December 10, Massachusetts Democrat Katherine M. Clark '89 won 66 percent of the vote to succeed Edward J. Markey in the U.S. House of Representatives. Running a lightly contested race against Republican Frank Addivinola and two independent candidates, Clark campaigned for abortion rights, early childhood education, tougher gun control, and pay equity for women.
"We all know Congress is broken," said Clark, speaking to supporters on election night. "But you've shown in this campaign that we are not going to sit on the sidelines and accept gridlock as the new norm. We know that we can—and we must—do better."
After graduation, Clark practiced law in Illinois, Colorado, and Massachusetts, where she worked as general counsel for the Massachusetts Office of Child Care Services and chief of the policy division for the Massachusetts attorney general. She was elected to the state House of Representatives in 2008, and to the state Senate in 2010, co-authoring legislation to reform municipal pensions, extend restraining orders in cases of domestic violence, and secure protection for electronic privacy. For her work, Clark was named 2011 Legislator of the Year by the Massachusetts Police Association and 2013 Legislator of the Year by the Women's Bar Association of Massachusetts.
As her first act in Congress, Clark plans to sign the Paycheck Fairness Act. Thinking back to her time at Cornell Law, she remembers working at the legal aid clinic, competing in moot court, and having dinner with Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. "Cornell Law School gave me an appreciation of the law's ability to shape public policy and promote equality and opportunity," says Clark. "Cornell prepared me for a very rewarding legal career working in government on issues of education, criminal justice, housing, and civil rights. All of those experiences have helped me as a state legislator, and will be invaluable for my work in Congress."
Both Clark and Markey, who was elected earlier this year to fill John Kerry's seat in the Senate, will serve through 2014.