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Terri Sewell on Making Alabama History

Terri Sewell is a native of Selma, Alabama with degrees from Princeton, Oxford and Harvard Law who decided to enter politics after a distinguished career in the private sector. She ran for Congress this year in Alabama's 7th district despite a tough electoral landscape for Democrats. And she won, defeating Republican Don Chamberlain to become Alabama's the state's first African-American woman elected to Congress.

On Wednesday's Washington Unplugged, Sewell talked to CBS News' Bob Orr about bucking the GOP trend.

"This is my home district," she said. "It's been a really exciting opportunity for me to have the opportunity to run. Even though I'm coming into the minority it doesn't really change the mission, which is to represent the 7th congressional district to the best of my abilities."

The 7th district, which encompasses Selma, Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, is one of the poorest in the state and has been hit especially hard by the economic recession. The unemployment rate hovers around 20 percent. Orr asked Sewell what her plan is once she gets to Washington.

"I want to find resources to invest in infrastructure improvements," she replied. "There are parts of this district that you just can't access . You can't freely move your good and services and we're not going to be able to attract industry until we get better infrastructure."

But as a junior member of Congress, what kind of impact can she make -- especially as a Democrat in a Republican controlled House? "I look forward to joining my colleagues, but the process of getting committee assignments is going to be a lot more challenging now that we're in the minority," she said.

Sewell hopes to bring her experience as a public finance attorney to her role at Congresswoman. "For me this open seat became available and I had exactly the skill set that, for the biggest problem unemployment and job creation," she said.

Watch Wednesday's Washington Unplugged also featuring The Hill's Sam Youngman on President Obama's reelection campaign and the unemployment rate and CBS News chief national security analyst Juan Zarate with this week's "Flash Points".

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