Twin sisters Jessica Ann Tyson and Monica Sparks see eye to eye on many topics, but politics isn’t one them.
Tyson, a Republican, chose to run for Kent County Commissioner for the 13th district in Michigan, while Sparks is running in the 12th district as a Democrat.
“The reason that I’m standing as a Democrat is funny because she said the same thing but we just see through two different lenses,” Sparks told FOX 17.
Tyson and Sparks join hundreds of Black women from around the country who’ve decided to run for office this year. For example, following Doug Jones (whom 96 percent of Black women voted for) defeating Republican candidate Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate special election in December, a record number of Black women decided to run for office across the state.
Blackwomeninpolitics.com lists at least 615 Black women candidates running for office in the U.S.
Tyson and Sparks’ political ambition was inspired by profound life experiences.
The women grew up in difficult circumstances. Their birthmother was addicted to heroin and they suffered abuse at the hands of foster parents, who deprived them of food. The loving family that eventually adopted them sparked their interest in politics.
“Our parents were strict about voting,” Sparks told the news channel. “You better vote. It is your right, it is your responsibility, people have died for that right.”
The mothers and businesswomen insist they’ll stay loyal to their parties and endorse whoever wins their side’s nomination.
“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.”
Tyson then got emotional in the interview.
“She’s my biggest cheerleader,” she said of her sister. “Right now I don’t have my biggest cheerleader.”
Tyson said having separate campaigns has made her recall difficult times from childhood.
“When we were little, we were taken away from our mother and we were separated and that was really, really hard,” she told the news channel. “[Campaigning separately] isn’t the same thing but you know, that memory just took me back just a second.”
Sparks said the pain from their childhood contributes to their desire to serve Kent County.
“It’s so amazing just to be able to sit here and run for county commissioner, are you kidding me” she said.
Though in different political parties, the women said commonalities exist, including equality, justice and liberty.
“The left wing and the right wing belong to the same bird,” the twins said at the same time.