This pain is pretty fresh, but hell, maybe it’ll open some eyes. In 2014, I almost ran for state legislature–house for district 13 to unseat Kim Koppelman (Google). At the time I had a full time job, a son on the spectrum, two dogs, two cats, a house, a volunteer position with a national women’s equality group, and a lot on my plate.
I’d just pulled my head out from the sand and decided the way women (and minorities and anyone who doesn’t follow along with the status quo) were treated was wrong and I started speaking out about it–loudly. I didn’t feel that knowing the difference between right and wrong was terribly political, but I guess it is. I studied and researched North Dakota politics. I began paying attention–to everything from nationwide right down to our own North Dakota legislature.
I’ve a tendency to minimize my own attributes and consistently think that if I can do it, everyone must be. That was incorrect. So many others still had their heads buried in the sand. So, oddly enough this reformed republican became a card carrying member of the Democratic Party. I donated well over 1000.00 to them last year in an effort to make a change because, you know, you have to pay for change.
So, it was down to the wire and our district chair asked if I would run. I still didn’t quite understand. I’m just this small town chick with a pretty good idea of right and wrong. I said I didn’t know how much I could campaign. My plate was already really full, but she wanted me to run. She felt people would relate to me and my situation and that I would make a great representative. Finally, I agreed. I just wanted to help people; to give moms like me a voice; to work for all the working stiffs out there who feel they have no voice because in North Dakota, legislating isn’t a full-time job. That’s why our legislature is comprised of mostly retired people or business owners.
So, I said yes. We filled out the paperwork, my son was on board and ready to knock doors and campaign with me. I talked to my boss at work. I let him know whether or not they’d accommodate me if I won, I’d go do what I felt was right. I was ready to fax in the paperwork and the district chair called me.
“Well, as district chair, I need to listen to people in the district. You’re a single mom. You never even talked to your employer. You have a child with some special needs. Maybe this is just too much for you.”
I explained that I’d talked to my boss and was ready to run. I said every reason she just stated were precisely the reasons I should be in public office. Then, she said,
“We have someone else; a young candidate who’s not married and doesn’t have kids. How would you feel if we just went with her instead?”
I set aside my feelings of being discriminated against. I set aside the fact that I’d just told my boss I would quit if I won and they wouldn’t accommodate me (incidentally, I quit anyway), I set aside any sadness or ego or desire to help the people in my district.
I said fine. Do it. I’m not facing a democratic primary for a house seat. And that was that. It also made me understand that single moms of special needs kids and loud opinions are not yet welcome in either party.
So….that’s the story of how I almost ran for office. I still think they need me, but I guess the country just isn’t ready for someone like me.