There I was, in a roomful of people, all eyes on me, waiting for pearls of wisdom to drop from my lips.
I quickly checked to see if I was clothed. After all, don’t all nightmares involve either math tests or standing naked in front of strangers?
This was no nightmare — and I was fully dressed. You see, I’m running for city council in my town and a diverse crowd of interested, potential voters had gathered to hear my views.
Never once in my 58 years on this planet have I aspired to be a politician. And I still don’t. But after the November 2016 presidential election, I knew I had to do more than just vote to make a difference.
So after crying for days and commiserating with like-minded friends and family, I did what came naturally to me: I wrote. And wrote. And wrote.
My writing consisted of letters to the editor of my local newspaper that expressed my fears about the Trump Administration and its corrupt policies, the orchestrated attempts to eliminate the Affordable Care Act, and the malicious hypocrisy of Republicans across the country, to name a few of the topics that inspired my writing wrath.
Somehow, people thought my letters were an act of bravery. Many readers thanked me for expressing their views. Most people were kind, some were less so.
In time, I was asked by the local Democratic committee to consider running for city council against the incumbent chair in the November 2018 elections.
“Who? “Me?” I questioned. “I’m not a politician. I’m a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, writer, volunteer, dog owner, reader, gardener and a concerned American citizen.”
Right there was my answer: I’m a concerned American citizen and that makes me the perfect person to run for local office.
So I said “yes,” and that’s how I found myself fully clothed and wide awake speaking to a roomful of strangers.
Although my campaign trail is short (my official entry started in March), I feel like I’ve completed the first leg of candidate boot camp. And here’s what I’ve learned: People are incredibly generous with their time, talent and thoughts. I am struck by the number of people — when asked to help — offer to canvas with me, put up yard signs, recruit other volunteers or donate. I just wasn’t expecting that type of enthusiasm and energy.
I’ve discovered that it takes a lot of commitment to campaign, and in time, it becomes like a new career. I’m more focused and driven than I’ve been in a long time, and I wake up every morning with plans running through my head about how to best structure my day.
I’ve found out that no matter how “small” or local the election, there are certain requirements that must be attended to, from filing paperwork with the state to determining platform issues that will resonate with voters; to identifying a campaign manager, treasurer and volunteer coordinator to creating social-media accounts; and to speaking at multiple events to attending community meetings and seminars.
I’ll begin canvassing in my ward soon, knocking on doors and chatting with potential voters to get their thoughts on how best to improve our city. I’m ready to listen and take action.
Win or lose, my hope is that I don’t become cynical about politics or the populace. I’m unsure about my chances of victory, but I’ll work as hard as necessary to highlight important issues in our community that merit discussion.
Whatever the outcome in November 2018, I’ve already won — a new perspective. I’m participating in our democratic process in a way that I never thought possible, but I’ve proudly joined the ranks of neophyte politicians.
I’ll write after the November election about how this adventure turned out, but until then, I have a few more “Meet and Greets” to attend, fully dressed and oh so awake.