Don’t tell me I can’t do it!
“Don’t tell me I can’t do it!” is Sharonlee Cummins’s mantra. “It’s guided me all my life,” the former Marine said. “I’m the only one who can say I can’t do it. No one else.” She’s proven that her entire life, from the time she enlisted in the Marine Corps right after high school when her parents didn’t want to sign her papers; to the time she paved the way for women in many technical fields over her career; to the times she’s run for political office.
GRIT IN HER MILITARY CAREER. She has grit; grit that gives her the gumption to know she can do anything she tries. The California native lived through a difficult family life, experienced the Watts Riots in 1965, and was the first female to take some shop classes in high school. She was in the Civil Air Patrol in high school and joined the Marine Corps right after she graduated. She had an ongoing battle with the Marines about several issues:
- A rights issue for women in the military. After showing she could do more than sit in a steno pool in the USMC, she purposely failed the 10th test in basic training – an aptitude for programming. She did not want to be a programmer. That resulted in getting the assignment she wanted – avionics. She took her Tactical Avionics Training in Millington, TN.
She obtained birth control pills from the base doctor before she married a fellow Marine. When she returned to duty after getting married, the doctor took her off the pills because of a massive kidney infection. She became pregnant and the Marine Corps booted her. The military policy on discharging pregnant soldiers changed in 1973, but the Marines did not change it until 1974.
- Lost records. It took her 13 years to rejoin the Corps. In 1974, she was denied. She tried again in 1980 and was accepted to join the Reserves. The Marine Corps lost her service paperwork in a fire at the records center in Kansas City. “But I had my onionskin and proved my prior service.”
She was assigned to avionics and was known as “Sergeant Mom” because she took the young Marines under her wing.
GRIT IN HER CIVILIAN CAREER. She also traversed a long career working as a contractor for prominent companies and government contractors in a variety of technical fields. Her technical expertise ranged from radio and TV repair, to cable roping, assembly, testing, inspection, coding, software quality assurance, and radar system design. She was a successful engineering shop foreman and electronics repair specialist in Utah; an electronics engineer for the Latter Day Saints Church; and a customer engineer for IBM General Systems in Orange County, CA. “I proved there was almost no job I couldn’t do,” she said, reflecting on her career. She has been included in approximately 50 Who’s Who publications since 1991, including Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in Science and Engineering, and Who’s Who in the World.
DEM CANDIDATE IN OTERO COUNTY. She jumped right into Democratic politics after she moved here. In 2020, she ran for the District 3 seat on the Otero County Commission as a Democrat against Republican candidate Vickie Marquardt. Cummins garnered a few votes but she was able to live up to her belief about elections: “You must always have a choice.” Marquardt still sits on the commission today and voted not to certify the June 2022 Primary Election results in Otero County that garnered statewide and national media attention.
Cummins has remained active in the local Democrat party in Otero County since she moved here.
“Now, I’m running for the NM Legislature in District 51, which includes part of Otero County. This part of the state is a Republican stronghold; home to the Cowboys for Trump and the recent county commission (all Republican) challenge of the June primary election this year. So I pulled out my old mantra (“You have to have choice”) and put my name in. I was unopposed in the primary. I figured my combination of a wide range of technical skills, my belief in our Democratic principles, and my experience in Republican circles would make me an ideal candidate,” she said. (See related article about her campaign.)
HELPING VETERANS NOW. She continues to “give back” by serving the Veterans Treatment Court in the 12th Judicial District (in Otero and Lincoln counties), along with Jeff Swanson, VMFC CD2 Vice-Chair and Chair of the DPOC. The court’s purpose is “to provide wrap-around services to our veteran population who struggle with substance abuse and/or mental health disorders” (Alamagordo Daily News, October 26, 2020).
She is a life member of the American Legion. She was first denied membership as a female veteran in California. Later, when she moved to Colorado, she encouraged the Legion there to open the women’s group to male spouses of female veterans.
She has served in emergency preparedness and survival, and search and rescue in California. In New Mexico, she has been an active Democrat and has served her local food bank. She also has a long history of fighting blatant racial bias against persons of color every day of her life.
HELP THIS MARINE VETERAN WIN HOUSE DISTRICT 51 SEAT
Sharonlee Cummins is currently running for the NM Legislative seat in House District 51, which is part of the Republican stronghold in Otero County. “I am running because I believe in choice,” she said. “People here have to have a choice of candidates. My young GOP opponent, a native New Mexican, is running as an America First candidate,” said the resident of Alamogordo. “We need to give our voters a chance to vote for our Democratic values in this part of the state.”
She needs your support. To donate to her campaign, send a check to her at Moving Forward with Cummins, 1111 10th Street, PMB 424, Alamogordo, NM 88310. (Social media coming soon. Watch for it!) To contact her directly, send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sharonlee is going through the VMFC candidate endorsement process. Results should be announced mid-month.