KENTWOOD, MI — Twins Jessica Ann Tyson and Monica Sparks are identical in many respects, but not in their political leanings. But in a country where recent elections have strained some family relationships, the western Michigan siblings running under opposite party banners for positions on the same county governing board say that won’t happen to them.
Both are running for seats on the Kent County Board of Commissioners. Tyson, a Republican, filed first for District 13. Democrat Sparks followed her sister, filing for District 12. Tyson is sure to advance to the November midterm elections as the only Republican on the ballot in her district in the Aug. 7 primary, but Sparks has a tougher climb in a four-way race.
The twins are determined not to be divided by their separate campaigns and opposing party ideology. They do agree on some issues, such as equality, justice and liberty for all. Both also say issues like mental health funding and services for senior citizens, veterans and children should be priorities.
“The left wing and the right wing belong to the same bird,” the women said in unison to television station WXMI.
The twins became interested in politics as children. As kids, they didn’t know what party their parents belonged to, but understood as youngsters that voting and civic engagement were not only a right, but a responsibility. Their parents drilled into them that people have died to protect their freedoms.
“My thing is, at the end of the day our parents taught us that we need to stand and stand for something and because we stand and we stand strong, we don’t necessarily have to agree on politics or even what we’re gonna drink for the evening,” Sparks said. “We don’t have to agree on that, but one thing we have to do is coexist.”
Their early childhood experience fueled their desire to serve and make life better for Michigan families. Their biological mother was addicted to heroin, and they were abused by foster parents to the point of starvation before they were adopted by a loving family.
Click Here: NRL Telstra Premiership
“It’s so amazing just to be able to sit here and run for county commissioner, are you kidding me?” Sparks said.
But campaigning separately does bring back some of that pain. The twins were separated from when they were removed from their biological mother’s home and “that was really, really hard,” Tyson said.
It’s not the same thing to be on opposite sides politically, “but you know, that memory just took me back for just a second,” she told the television station.
“We are not divided,” Sparks said. “Separated for a season, guess you could say because after this we will figure out whichever way it goes.”
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images