An 11-year-old Newport girl, Khatima Bulmer, got VIP access to the corridors of power at the Statehouse as the state’s governor for a day on Wednesday.
Bulmer got the distinction by winning an essay contest organized by the Ocean State’s first female governor, Gina Raimondo.
Khatima’s day began when she was sworn-in by Supreme Court Justice Maureen McKenna Goldberg. The polite fifth-grader got briefed by the governor’s staff and took part in a state room discussion with a host of female staffers and elected officials. Senator Gayle Goldin (D-Providence) discussed how a bill becomes law, sometimes with unintended consequences. And when the House was described as the chamber longest on talking, state Representative Anastasia Williams (D-Providence) blamed that on the preponderance of male reps.
Next up was a visit with Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, who explained the functions of her office -- including overseeing lobbyists -- to Khatima and her parents.
Gorbea touted how women have made gains in Rhode Island politics, with her election as the first statewide Latina in New England, and Raimondo as the state's first female governor. While Rhode Island and its denizens sometimes suffer from an inferiority complex, Gorbea told her audience, the state has a lot to be proud of, including the sinking of the Gaspee.
Khatima said her selection as Governor for a Day sent a positive message.
"It’s a great thing, you know – you’re having lots of girl power," she said while walking in a Statehouse corridor. "And that girls can do anything, even if they’re young or old -- either one."
Also on Khatima's agenda for the day was a tour of the Capitol, a meeting with Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza and stops in Newport.
Despite gains by Raimondo and other female officeholders, women remain outnumbered in the General Assembly, representing just 30 of 113 seats.