Friday, December 20, 2013

Filing for District 9B

We're official!  On December 17, after holding a Business Round Table in Columbia, I drove down to Annapolis, signed my name, and officially became a candidate to represent Ellicott City in District 9B.

As a candidate, you hear the question "How's it going?" a lot.  My answer is always "great".  It's true, but it is also part of the mindset you need to keep when running for office.  As former Texas Senator John Tower is quoted as saying "Don't let your coattails hit you in the ass."  Running for office is not just physically draining, but also emotionally exhausting: 

"So-and-so is not happy with you."

"You can't say X, or so-and-so will not be happy with you."

The worst is "So-and-so thinks you are ______."  Never in my life have I had my identity or what I believe defined by so many strangers.  It's a big reason why I stay as busy as I do.  I let my actions speak for me.  What I tell you is only as good as your history with me and whatever credibility I've built up in that time.  But what I do, that stands for itself.  If you want to know what my priorities are, look at where I spend my time.

What makes up for all of that is the personal relationships I've developed over a very short period of time.  There is a level of intimacy in sharing one's problems; sharing what keeps you up at night.  I've always had this experience as an attorney, but as a candidate for office the urgency picks up a bit.  People say that there are no friends in politics, which is absolutely true, but there are a significant number of friends to be made in community advocacy.  "Getting your hands in the dirt" is what I call it.  There are a surprising number of candidates, and possibly current elected officials, who have never had their hands in the dirt, making solutions when none seemed available.  I associate myself with those who do.  There is a fellowship there that cannot be replicated.  While what I'm describing may sound lionizing and self-congratulatory, what it really means is that I've been yelled at.  I've made people angry.  Unfortunately, I've made enemies.  Those who have borne those slights, and sometimes felt like it was universal amongst everyone outside their front door, share a bond.

That's not to say I don't enjoy the opportunity to engage people who disagree with me.  In fact, that has been one of the more enjoyable parts of this campaign.  But let me stress "engage".  There are those who disagree and just want to tell me they disagree.  That is fine.  But then there are those who disagree and are curious about how we may be able to get back on the same page or at least have a mutual appreciation of the other side.  That is fun.  That is the type of constructive idea-building that made this Country what it is.  We had a bit of that at the Business Round Table this past Tuesday.  While we agreed on most ideas and the need to make stronger partnerships between business and government, there were some subjects of disagreement.  And I won't always agree, but I will always have an interest in sitting at the table with you.  More often than not, we will find that the areas in which we agree cover 90% of topics, with the remainder being discussions for which there may be a middle ground.

Finally, this campaign is about learning.  Any candidate who comes to a race with their platform and ideas already compiled is missing out on the best part of running for office.  There is no shortage of people at the top of their field, whether it is education, energy, transportation, real estate, employment, or social services, who are willing to educate you on the dynamics of their profession and how state law affects their work.  If you know anything about me, you have to know how much I love "policy wonk stuff".  In fact, a great majority of what I'm learning has made me embarrassed by the false certainty I've had over years of writing this blog.  I didn't know anything compared to what I know now.

All that's left now is proving to the voters what I already know in my heart: I am the right person to represent this District.  I work hard and hold high expectations for getting things done.  That's me in a nutshell.  But more importantly, I wouldn't run if I thought the best I could accomplish was the status quo.  I'm not a name-plate chaser.

When I win, it will be up to all of us to make sure this was a race worth running.  Community engagement doesn't work if the community is not interested in being engaged.  Can we leverage technology to create new portals of access?  Can we motivate people to look at their community and say "How can we make this better"?  Can we fundamentally change the way people experience their government?

I think we can.  But I need your help.

Have a great Friday doing what you love!  It's impossible not to.