This fall, I ran for election to my local Board of Education. All four Democratic incumbents on our board were up for election. Our campaign began in August and continued through November 7th. By the numbers, I
- made 217 calls
- wrote 150 postcards
- knocked on 125 doors
- attended 8 community events
- wrote 4 Letters to the Editor
- won by 3 votes
That last figure is what blew me away -- I will remain on our Board of Education because four people decided to get their ballots and vote. I know these folks:
- a friend's mom who's critically ill, wasn't planning to vote, but got fired up about issues and decided to make her (& her husband's) wishes known
- firefighters whom my friend's husband texted, telling them to vote for me
- a guy on my husband's basketball league who said it was hard to vote for a Democrat but he did it
While winning by a wide margin would've been nice, winning by a slim margin leaves me with important insights:
- Every vote matters and counts.
- I was elected to represent all residents, including roughly half the voters who didn't vote for me, and I feel the gravity of listening to and acting on what all residents want.
- Our electorate is divided over issues playing out on the national stage. Issues in local politics are unique from many of the issues playing out nationally. Communicating these differences and what we're working on locally is imperative.
I'm grateful that I get to serve a four-year term and won't have to campaign for myself during that period. Now that I've been through a campaign (I was originally appointed to serve on the board), I encourage anyone thinking about it to run for elected office. Consider whom your running mates will be and what kind of commitment they're making to the campaign. Those are the folks you'll rely on heavily for tactical and emotional support. Make sure they're people you trust whom you are proud to run beside. Make sure they're people who honor their word and show up when they say they will. Make sure they're people who will have your back. On your side, make sure you have the time to commit to campaigning (see list of activities above), to be a strong running mate to your peers. Make sure you're passionate about the position and why you want to serve your community. Listen to what residents say and meaningfully respond.
Even if the election outcome hadn't been what I wanted, I would have been satisfied. I ran alongside stellar individuals. I committed myself fully to the campaign. I grew in my understanding of what constituents are looking for and how to better serve our community. Thankfully, I get to take that learning back into my board role after the swearing in ceremony this evening.