The Story of Moira Walsh – From Waitress to State Representative

Once upon a time in Rhode Island (The Ocean State), New England Region of the Northeastern United States.

The voters decided not to return six out of the 18 incumbent state lawmakers who were facing primary challenges, one thing they had in common, they were all democrats. They include the following;

  • House Majority Leader John J. DeSimone,lost to Providence public school teacher Marcia Ranglin-Vassell
  • Rep. Eileen Naughton lost to Warwick City Councilor Camille Vella-Wilkinson
  • Rep. Jan Malik of Warren lost to Barrington attorney Jason Knight
  • Sen. William Walaska, D-Warwick, lost to Jeanine Calkin
  • Sen. Juan Pichardo lost to Providence city employee Ana Quezada

And then Rep. Thomas Palangio who had served as a state representative for seven non-consecutive term lost to waitress and labor organizer Moira Walsh.

Prior to the election on her website (, she wrote;

“I want to represent you because I know I can be that person. Last year, when I was lobbying for the tipped minimum wage, I chased down reps every day because I knew that 22,000 workers in our state needed it. By being persistent and not giving up we were able to get it passed. I know I can do so much more for you and for this neighborhood if you elect me to represent us. I’ve lived in this community my whole life and I want our families to have the same opportunities living on Chalkstone that they have on Blackstone”

From Waitress to State Representative

Highlights below are culled from her interview with Adrienne Green of, please go HERE for the full interview.

  • I’m a waitress, and have been for going on 10 years. I literally went across the street, to the restaurant across the street from my high school, and I got a job there in what I thought was going to be a very transitory period of my life, and it has ended up being my main form of income.

  • If you go to your boss and your legislator and ask for a raise and they say no, where do you go from there? That was the point at which I decided that if these people weren’t going to represent me, or even pretend to care that we were struggling, then they couldn’t really call themselves my representative, could they? That was when I started the process of running because I was tired of being told that they would tend to me later. 

  • When you put people in a place where their income is dependent on how much of a doormat they are willing to be, you really set people up for failure.

  • We managed to win just by knocking on doors. Before I ran, I very much did not think that regular people could do this kind of thing. I thought it was for the lawyers, the business owners, and the people whose dads were state representatives who could pass it on to them.

  • While my policies and legislation don’t start until January, we are already doing monthly community meetings to check in, see what people need, what their priorities are, and remind them that they now have a representative who will take their calls and be here when they need it.

  • I don’t consider myself a politician. I am just a waitress who happened to get pissed off enough to take a crack at it.

  • I keep making the joke that all of my predecessors have set the bar pretty low. I think my constituents are going to be really excited to turn over a new leaf.

  • Have you ever seen the movie Slumdog Millionaire, where the kid knows all the answers to the questions [on a quiz show] just by random stuff that has gone on his life? I felt very much like that on the campaign trail.

  • I’m not going to be one of those people who takes the job for granted. The representatives before me started out as good people, and ended up behind bars. As far as how this new job defines me as a person, I absolutely wouldn’t have run or cared about the plight of waitresses if I weren’t one.

    If you were inspired, please share with your folks.

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