It’s been nearly a full week since I was last able to walk around and knock on doors to talk to voters in House District 48. How could I have foreseen that Oregon would have its worst wildfire season ever this year, and that the smoke would make the outside air hazardous to breathe, throughout practically the entire state?
I won’t lie: these fires took the stress Oregonians were facing each day in the midst of the ongoing pandemic, and (at least in my household) kicked it into overdrive. Only today, now that the fires are slowly becoming contained and the smoke is starting to thin out, do I see some light at the end of the tunnel. Throughout the past six months, I’ve sorely missed the simple pleasures I used to have in my life - working with students as a substitute teacher, being able to hug my friends and parents, and seeing smiles on the faces of strangers. Now I miss just being able to go on walks, whether to speak with voters or to simply unwind with my wife.
Because of all this, it would be so easy for me to throw in the towel and call it quits for my campaign. I mean, there’s always 2022 to plan for, right? And hardly anyone would be sad about it, because I haven’t met that many voters yet. There’s no shame in changing your plans once in a while.
And yet, as true as those statements are, there’s something deep inside me that fuels me to keep going forward.
Is it stubbornness that keeps me moving? It’s possible (just ask my wife). Is it delusion? Likely, if you talk to some of my detractors on Facebook. Is it my ego at risk of being bruised in some way? Maybe from a philosophical and/or psychological aspect.
But I think it’s something else.
Oddly enough, I think that what drives me to march on with this campaign, is my opponent. If I had to speculate, I’d say that Representative Jeff Reardon, the incumbent candidate for HD 48, isn’t dealing with all of these same issues and existential questions - at least not to the same degree. He has the advantage of incumbency in this race, and all of the privilege and networking that comes with it. He hasn’t walked around his district lately to knock on doors and ask Oregonians what they need from their government, because he doesn’t need to prove himself to them - he’s already “in”. This reflects a trend in many races, past and present, at the local level; if this circumstances are just right, a candidate only needs to seriously campaign once to hold power for years.
I don’t like that this is a thing, and I know that many others feel the same way. If an incumbent leader doesn’t bother to knock on the doors of ordinary folks in his or her own district - the very people who elected him or her in the first place - then who is this person working for?
This campaign of mine is an attempt to break that vicious cycle, and that’s why I’m not backing down anytime soon. Not to be crass, but I’m here until the fat lady sings. I’m still in, so the question is: are you?Read More...
Posted on 16 Sep 2020, 20:25 - Category: General
This past Wednesday, I officially kicked off canvassing efforts for my campaign for state legislature. I had 1,500 copies of my campaign flyer shipped to my house and ready to go – nowhere near the number I need to reach every household in my district, but enough to get door-knocking up off the ground. My wife lent me a spare clipboard that she had lying around for teaching purposes, and I packed my messenger bag with sunscreen, extra pens, pretzels, and a canteen full of ice water. I wore my best walking shoes – a pair of Oboz from REI – and a face mask with exhalation vents that I’d purchased on Amazon. I was prepared as I was going to be.
It went well!
Since there are about the same number of Democratic voters in the 97267 zip code portion of my district as the number of flyers I had on hand, I decided to start there. In the first three days, I somehow didn’t encounter a single hostile voter – a miracle in my book – although there were a few people who were not interested in speaking with me at the time.
Most people weren’t home, which is understandable during the work week. But I was greeted by some kind folks who not only opened their doors to me, but also fully engaged in conversation with me about the issues that mattered to them:
- Gabriel, a recent high school graduate who expressed concern over traffic and road infrastructure;
- Will, a single parent who wanted more funding for public schools and teachers;
- Ann, a senior citizen who was very appreciative of that fact that a candidate for public office took the time to chat with her in person; and
- Krista, another young person who was glad that a true grassroots candidate was running to represent her interests, not those of big corporations.
Knowing that I might never have had the chance to meet these people outside of my campaign, getting to know them and their concerns about the “big issues” is an awesome experience that I didn’t fully anticipate.
But there was something else I hadn’t anticipated that was made clear to me this past week: Not one of these folks knew who their state representative – my opponent in this race – was. This begs the question: Has my opponent ever met with the Oregonians he supposedly represents in the legislature? What does it say about our current form of representative government, when an incumbent politician can feel good about his re-election chances with tens of thousands of people whose names and faces he’s probably never seen?
This helped me realize that my district is facing a concealed crisis – a lack of authentic, grassroots representation. And that adds another tangible layer of urgency in this race for our campaign to succeed.
Posted on 05 Sep 2020, 17:55 - Category: General
Yesterday, I had my interview with Calvin Taylor from the SOGAN podcast, which I mentioned in one of my earlier posts. Although I was quite nervous and tended to ramble on a bit, I think it went quite well overall! An audio recording of the interview can be found here.
Calvin was a very nice individual and did a great job hosting the interview. If you’re reading this, Calvin, I wish you the best of luck in your journalism ventures!Read More...
Posted on 20 Aug 2020, 24:46 - Category: General
Politicians open themselves up for confrontation from the public - sometimes justified, other times not - and the same can be said for first-time political candidates. Everyone who’s serious about running for public office knows this. But sometimes the sting of rejection can sneak up on you when you’re not expecting it.
Is it worse to be judged by a stranger for doing something that they don’t approve of? Or to be judged for not doing something that they believe you ought to have done? This is the question I find myself asking, after an attempt at reaching out online to my fellow community members to inform them of my candidacy backfired. I was accused of spamming, of ignoring questions posed in the comments, and of being a “far-left schmuck”. I was able to take all of these things in stride; in fact, my wife and I had quite a laugh at “far-left schmuck”, and even joked about putting it on campaign buttons for my supporters to wear. And if members of “the Squad” in Congress can deal with countless death threats and bigoted remarks, then this white male can certainly handle a few Facebook comments!
But then, something that one of these detractors said hit me squarely in the chest: They told me (in so many words) they would never vote for a candidate who has no prior leadership experience.
At the time of writing this, I’m still not 100% sure why this particular statement struck me the way it did; but now that I’ve had time to process it, I think that there are many subtle implications involved in this person’s words.
First, there is this notion of “prior leadership experience”. Now, I’m making an assumption that this person believes leadership is just another thing to put on one’s résumé - a job title whose value can be unilaterally measured in time and/or income level. This might make sense in a business, where time can either be profit gained or profit lost depending on the circumstances; but civil servitude as an elected official is not meant to be a “job”. Constituents are not meant to be treated as customers. Elected office is not supposed to be some promotion to a position of more authority and prestige than you had beforehand. It is intended to be an opportunity for ordinary members of a democratic society to help shape an ever-evolving community, whether locally or globally, into a rational and fulfilling experience of interconnected living in the world they partake in. Why should we hesitate to allow our everyday working neighbors this opportunity, yet gladly vest these duties in people who are simply looking for one more bullet point in their résumé of personal accomplishment? How does the thickness – or thinness - of my portfolio objectively determine my fitness to serve the public?
Second, many individuals in positions of authority often arrive there not through merit or a penchant for social altruism, but rather through bribery and influential connections. I am not accusing my opponent in this race of such things, far from it; but it is common knowledge that wealth and social circles can bring unwieldy power to people who don’t deserve it. And if you can buy your way into a position of leadership, then it goes without saying that you also buy the “experience” and prestige that comes with it. Leadership and power do not always go hand in hand.
Lastly - and this may be a stretch for some folks reading this - it seems as though one cannot be passionate about a prevailing issue unless one has experienced it for oneself. I can certainly agree with this idea in the negative sense (for example, a room full of male legislators making laws about how much bodily autonomy a woman should be allowed); but in other cases, this notion can become an unnecessary hurdle. I believe “trans panic” shouldn’t be an allowable defense in a murder trial, yet I myself am not a trans individual. I believe government subsidies should be given to small local businesses instead of gigantic corporations, yet I myself am not a business owner. I fully support the Second Amendment, yet I myself have never owned any firearms.
All of this is to say that, it’s common to critique our fellow people for what they haven’t yet accomplished, but rarely helpful. If we unnecessarily “gatekeep” individuals who have the desire to participate in their government, then we can never have a government truly representative of all its people.
To quote a familiar line from my wife’s favorite musical: “There’s a million things I haven’t done, but just you wait...”.
Posted on 10 Aug 2020, 18:41 - Category: General
Last Friday (a full four days after I was hoping to have this accomplished), I finally succeeded in setting up a bank account for my campaign! There were several hoops to jump through, mostly on the bank’s side; but, at long last, we are finally able to accept campaign contributions. Already, we’ve taken in $220 in cash contributions – 11% of our goal!
Additionally, I have an interview coming up in the next few weeks with an up-and-coming YouTube journalist. I’ll be sure to post more details on this in the near future, but needless to say, this is a very exciting time for the campaign!
Posted on 02 Aug 2020, 19:11 - Category: General