About Margaret O’Brien


Results oriented, community minded, kind, devoted and family oriented are all words that friends use to describe Margaret O’Brien. Local non-profit Executive Director Fran Denny said, “Margaret will be an excellent legislator because she is smart, principled and compassionate.”

Margaret has brought these qualities to the community as a State Representative and a Portage City Councilwoman. Elected in 2010 to the State House, Margaret brought energy, enthusiasm and a strong work ethic. Challenging the status quo, Margaret worked to eliminate the budget deficit, enact common sense reforms and advocate for hardworking families.

_MG_1467Fighting For Jobs

Job growth has been a priority of Margaret’s, and she has fought for local businesses creating jobs in our area. Local Business Executive Steven Cummins stated, “It was refreshing to find a political leader willing to take the time to understand our vision to grow in Michigan.  She clearly understood the fundamental business challenges and opportunities.  In addition, she appreciated the risk we were undertaking to grow in this state.”  As Vice Chair of the House Committee on Tax Policy, Margaret has fought for fair and simple taxes and regulations that create a positive environment for Job Growth.

Transparency In Government

Margaret has long been an advocate of responsible government and fiscally conservative budgeting.  As a Portage City Councilwoman, she successfully fought to get the City’s agendas and checkbook published online. While serving on the House Committee of Oversight, Margaret reviews the Auditor General Reports to ensure proper use of your tax dollars. Also, she has advocated for clearer laws on Open Meetings Act to ensure public business occurs in the public realm. “Margaret has been a key partner in ensuring we are able to serve our community in a responsible and open manner,” agrees Vicksburg Village Supervisor Bill Adams.


Other community leaders recognize Margaret’s passion for serving her community and tackling tough issues. Margaret has been actively engaged with other local leaders looking at community wide issues. Schoolcraft Township Supervisor Don Ulsh endorses Margaret “because of her intellect, energy, and persistence in getting to the bottom of issues that affect our area. Margaret has the uncanny ability to see both sides of an issue and help those involved reach consensus.”

Strong Work Ethic

A lifelong resident of Kalamazoo County, Margaret grew up working on dairy farms- first in Pavilion Township, then in Texas Township. With her three brothers and parents, Margaret worked hard- instilling qualities that she is known for now as a public servant. Like many farm youths, she spent summers detasseling corn. “Those summers taught me that hard work is the key to success. Working in the hot sun, for long hours in less than ideal conditions, I learned that you finish whatever job you start no matter how hard it is.

Margaret graduated Mattawan High School in 1991 and went to Michigan State University. She attended MSU’s prestigious James Madison College, and paid her own way through college working two jobs while earning a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations in 1996.

Returning home to Kalamazoo, Margaret was hired at Catholic Family Services as a Crisis Worker at their ARK shelter for runaway, troubled and homeless teens. Margaret earned promotions and eventually managed their Caring Network pregnancy support program.

During this time, Margaret gave birth to her son, Tyjon. As a single mother, she provided for her son and her father who suffered from Parkinson’s disease.


In 1999, Margaret met Nick O’Brien playing on a softball team. Two years later on St. Patrick’s Day, they were married. Together, they have two children: Samantha and Tyjon. As a family they enjoy being outdoors, family time and being active.

Margaret is also a successful real estate agent who still loves serving her community.