The first question every candidate gets asked: “Why are you running?” I want to take a few minutes to answer that question.
I am running because the residents of the 13th Senate District deserve an experienced leader who will fight for our entire community rather than using the office to push special interests. I’m tired of coming home every night only to feel embarrassed by our elected officials. There have been very few days over the past couple years that I could read the news without burying my face in my hands. Politicians’ approval ratings, local and national, are in the gutter (and they deserve to be there). I am running because I want the 13th Senate District to be proud of our representative.
Unfortunately, some of our elected officials seem to have forgotten who their real customer is: the residents of the districts they serve. I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs, both of my parents ran their own businesses, and my parents instilled in me a work ethic that does not quit until the job is done. One of my first jobs as a teenager was washing windows to make a few bucks. I would put my cleaning supplies in a bucket and throw a 30′ ladder over my shoulder (I quickly learned to put a towel between the ladder and my shoulder) then walk around a neighborhood looking for potential customers. Before I knocked on a door to try to make a sale, I would count the windows on the sides of the house I could see then make an educated guess on how many might be on the other sides. This prep work was largely effective at allowing me to judge the amount of time it would take me to clean the windows. Occasionally, I would misjudge the number of unseen windows, but that misjudgment would never change the quality of my work or the terms of the deal. I made my customers a promise that they would have clean windows for a set price, and I worked until that promise was fulfilled. This work ethic and passion for customer service has stayed with me, from teenage odd jobs to the battlefields of Afghanistan as a U.S. Marine to managing multi-million dollar deals for government contractors; and it is the type of work ethic and passion I will restore to the 13th Senate District.
As a U.S. Marine, I was privileged to be one of our country’s representatives for democratic values to communities in crisis. There has been no greater accomplishment in my life than being part of a team that helped war-torn towns identify their common values and then use those values to build representative systems that embrace the strengths of their diversity. I was in Afghanistan before and during the 2010 surge, working in remote towns that had been decimated by conflict. Many of these towns were former regional trade hubs with incredible infrastructure that had been reduced to piles of rubble with only a few, scattered inhabitants remaining. As the area began to stabilize and residents returned home to rebuild their community, one of the questions they had to answer was what type of self-governance system they would adopt. Among my responsibilities was helping the residents determine what values they wanted to promote and the options available for them to do so. Early on, each town had to address how they would handle inter-tribal conflicts. In every case, the trigger to building good governance was the realization that government is best when it is dedicated to serving its people with empathy, with a laser focus on providing justice without regard to heritage, occupation, or beliefs.
When I look around our community today, I see some of the same ideological fissures I saw in Afghanistan. We are now speaking in absolute, divisive terms on topics where we should be seeking justice together. We are replacing community-building empathy with “otherizing” individuals we don’t understand or who challenge our preconceptions, so we don’t have to address the difficult questions head-on. Our elected officials are relinquishing the duty of service to the community, choosing to pander to donors rather than stand up for constituents. It is time for us to make a change that restores our entire community’s confidence in our representation. I am asking for your help to make that change a reality.