I have been thinking about running for office for a while now. In my day job I advocate for social justice issues at the Connecticut General Assembly. I also teach Political Advocacy at the UConn School of Social Work and am a fervent believer that change takes time, but that if we take part in our democracy, change will happen. History has shown us that. I am also a feminist who encourages women to run for office, and so, it only seems fitting that I practice what I preach and run.
The only problem is...I live in a heavily democratic community with a 23 year democratic incumbent. And, the local Democratic Town Committee (DTC) has this unwritten rule that you don’t challenge your own. I met with many people involved with the DTC to let them know of my interest in the seat and to see how I could help out and get more involved. I was told time and again that it would be really great if the incumbent decided not to run, that he’d held the seat long enough, had stopped being engaged in the community and in the party, but that until he decided not to run, there really wasn’t anything that could be done about it. I beg to differ...
Before the last election, the incumbent caught wind that I might be interested in the seat and called me. At that time I expressed my interest in running and asked that we revisit the conversation in two years, which we did. In late 2017 we met for coffee, which was all things awkward and uncomfortable, mixed with pleasantries. I came away from that meeting ready to run. The incumbent made it clear that he was in no rush to make a decision as to whether or not he would run again and even if he didn’t run, he would select his predecessor to support (there are a few men who also want to run for the seat).
That was the last straw. How on earth are we going to bring new voices to the democratic process if we continue to follow rules that protect the status quo? Most people aren’t intimately involved with politics and have no idea that these types of conversations and negotiations are taking place long before they head to the polls to vote. In that moment, I knew. I’m doing this. I’m running for office.