Guests accompany area legislators to State of the Union address in D.C.

Congressman John Carney from Delaware was impressed with the enthusiasm of a woman he met at a job training program. Tuesday night, Lateka Jones will join him in Washington for President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address to represent the people who may be affected by budget cuts.

“I just said I would love to take a trip with you to the White House and, a week later, I’m his guest,” said Jones. “It’s very, very exciting.”

It’s become a tradition for members of Congress to bring constituents to the high-profile event. A good guest offers an opportunity to highlight a cause.

U.S. Rep. Rush Holt from the Princeton area will listen to the speech with Sarah Cadogan whose son, Spencer, was shot and killed in 2010 at the age of 17.

Holt, who has introduced gun control legislation, will joins first lady Michelle Obama and members of the Connecticut congressional delegation hosting family members of the victims of gun violence.

“The more people we have in the gallery, the more attention we draw to this issue, the more possible it will be to get the larger rather than minimal legislative response,” Holt said.

Cadogan concurs.

“It is our hope and our prayer that we get our legislation passed so that not many more families have to experience the loss that my family has,” she said.

Other representatives will sit alongside educators. Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick will attend the speech with Janet Dollard, president of Conwell-Egan Catholic High School in Bucks County.

Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz will bring Pennsylvania’s teacher of the year, Ryan Devlin.

And Congressman Pat Meehan will be accompanied by  Kathy Mignone, an autism early intervention teacher with Delaware County Intermediate Unit.

“It’s a tremendous honor to be advocating for the students themselves and making sure that I’m not only a part of it in the classroom but also a part of it outside of the classroom,” she said.

Rounding out Southeast Pennsylvania, Congressman Chaka Fattah will host Montgomery County Commissioners Chairman Josh Shapiro.

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