I Ran for a Public Office I Didn’t Know Existed
I spent every weekend in January doing the same thing. I would wander the parking lot of the nearby Costco asking people if they were a registered Democrat or Independent and whether they would like to sign a petition to get retired NASA Astronaut Mark Kelly on the ballot of the US Senate.
Well, I’d do this until I was asked to leave. That would take about two hours.
As nerdy as it may be to say, it was exciting. I met some wonderful people, recruited a few volunteers, had a couple of good discussions, and only once got yelled at when a woman got six inches from my face and yelled, “Make America Great Again.” I told her to have a nice day.
Tangential side note: When canvassing in the middle of the day, the smell of Costco pizza will turn you into a small child in a Dicken’s novel asking for more porridge. It’s cruel how good it smells.
If there is one thing I have learned about volunteering for political campaigns it’s that the campaign will love you for it and they will keep your number on speed dial. This feels good.
After a few weeks, I got a text message from the Arizona Democratic Party asking if I would be interested in running to be a precinct committeeperson. I’m not sure if it’s my inability to say no, my need to belong to something bigger than me, or merely being flattered, but I said yes.
Then I had to do a Google search to figure out what I just agreed to do.
A precinct committeeperson is the lowest ranking political office a human being can hold. Sounds about right for me. I’ve taken a liking to underachieving in the latter part of my years. Essentially, they do exactly what I have been doing all along but you get this rush of adrenaline that your name will actually appear on a primary ballot.
As it turns out, there are a lot of seats open for precinct committeepeople and no one knows they’re out there. There were six seats available and three people running. I filed my paperwork and got a congratulatory call three days later. My name was never on a ballot.
My campaign turned out the same as when I ran for House of Representatives in 8th grade. I won because there were more seats than people interested. Not a bad situation for one of the least popular kids in middle school.
Apparently, I have a penchant for wanting to do work no one else wants to do.
I never had any aspiration of getting into politics, no matter how small the office might be. I’m a behind the scenes kind of girl. Turns out, I still am. I like sitting on my couch in my pajamas doing the work.
After my first legislative district meeting, it’s business as usual except for one thing. I feel part of something.
I sat on Zoom call with about 60 other people, all with the same common goal of moving the ball down the field to turn a red state blue. In Arizona, that’s an uphill climb. There was a lot of passion on that call.
Especially now, when we’re living in a world of division, anger, confusion, and frustration, being surrounded by people who don’t want to complain about how things are but want to change them, is unifying.
There’s nothing self-important I feel in getting to have a tiny little title. But the work I do feels important. I feel recognized. I feel like when I meet other people who do what I’m doing, there is this understanding of, “I know you. You get it.”
Having my name on a ballot was not something I considered. However, when I take a minute and look around at the world we’re currently living in, I couldn’t have imagined that either.
The truth is that the world is, indeed, bigger than us and our political climate is fraught. We change our world when we cast a ballot but the work starts long before that. Someone has to do it. It might as well be me.