Auckland-born law graduate aspires to be US President

By Bronson Perich

Recent law graduate Sala McCarthy-Stonex has returned to Aotearoa after receiving her Juris doctorate (JD) and masters in public affairs (MPA) in Utah. She’s made no apologies for her life goal, to be President of the United States (POTUS).

“It’s kind of a goal I’ve had since I was 14. I was taking a class in the United States on participation and democracy. I was really inspired by what the founding fathers [who drew up the US constitution] had pictured for America,” Sala McCarthy-Stonex says.

The aspirations of the founding fathers struck a chord with her. McCarthy-Stonex thinks she could help continue what the Founding Fathers started.

“If I can do it, why not anyone else? We’re just as capable as anyone else, as minority peoples, and as a young woman of Pacific Island and Māori descent,” McCarthy-Stonex says.

Rooted in many lands

McCarthy-Stonex was born in Auckland, and is of Samoan, Tongan, Ngāti Kahungunu and Ngāti Tūwharetoa ancestry. She lived in Auckland until her father died when she was a child. Her mother then packed the whānau up, and they lived on a Navajo reservation for three years.

She spent the rest of her childhood and teens in Laie, Oahu, Hawaii.

The US constitution requires that the POTUS must be at least 35 and a natural-born citizen of the USA. Although this stopped Arnold Schwarzenegger from vying for the top job [he was born in Austria], McCarthy-Stonex believes there is a way around that.

She said in 2015, a whole review was done by the Harvard Law Review that had people going back and forth on the 'natural-born' issue. What it meant to be a natural-born citizen was extended, she said.

“So, does it count if one of your parents was a citizen at the time of your birth? Does that make you eligible? And I think yes!”

She acknowledges it will be a fight to sell this to her fellow Americans.

Republican? Democrat? Third party?

McCarthy-Stonex is leaning toward working her way up through the ranks of the Democratic National Congress (DNC), something she admit, will put her at odds, with her fellow believers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

The church founded the state of Utah, which over time has become increasingly Republican (GOP). Some Latter-Day Saint church members think supporting the Democrats goes against church beliefs.

"Being in Provo (Utah) for four years was an eye-opener as to how many people have this very different, very conservative, and stalwart opinion of where you're supposed to be as a member of the church," McCarthy-Stonex says.

She says she believes in socialism. However, she does not advocate militant socialism. She says that people should have the right to choose and that the government's role is to facilitate equity and fairness.

After finishing her quarantine isolation in Auckland, she plans to work wherever her doctorate is recognised and she can make a positive difference.

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