May 26, 2021

POV: It Takes Brave People

Recently, I put my name forward to lead my community as a City Council person for Salt Lake City. I was not selected and I am proud of myself for taking the leap. 

Here is some background that may be helpful as you read this. The Salt Lake City Council is a nonpartisan elected office and Salt Lake City is separated into seven districts of representation. Typically, candidates serve 4 years. The office became vacant when my councilperson took a position in Mayor Mendenhall’s cabinet making him ineligible to hold elected office. So the remaining City Council members sought to appoint a replacement to fill the vacancy.  

It is no secret to anyone that I am an avid supporter of my community and I am an ardent advocate of civic engagement. For the better part of 15 years, I have been fielding requests and encouragements to run for political office, from both Republicans and Democrats. From a young age I had been conditioned to think about leadership in different ways, so I always knew that elected office was not about the person running–instead it was always about the people who were being represented.  

When this vacancy was public, every ounce of water that fuels my body tugged at me in such a way that I knew it was finally the right time to step forward. All previous opportunities were never quite right and this one felt starkly different. I knew that if I were selected I’d have to run for office over the summer for the November ballot and I knew that it would completely alter my job (I’d have to move significant things around to accommodate both roles). I consulted with my family and close friends and then I spoke to the UNA Board and Staff. The support I received from them and the community was so humbling.

I share all of this with you because I want to be very clear about something–the way that we show up in our communities matters. I recognize that stepping forward for public office is not for everyone and my privilege to be able to do this is palpable.  

Because running for public office is not for everyone there are so many other ways to support in the process of selecting decision makers. And I want to encourage everyone to think about ways you might get involved in this process. Some suggestions include: 

  • If there is a local election happening, learn about the various candidates and maybe offer to do voter outreach for them.  
  • Perhaps you can help a candidate develop their policy platform or get their webpage up and running?  
  • There are always local community councils where you can get involved and learn what is happening right in your neighborhood.  
  • If you have children in school, local school community councils might also be a great way to be involved and show support.  
  • Many municipalities have boards and commissions that could really use a different perspective. (I served on the SLC Police Civilian Review board for almost 3 years!) 

Ultimately, the message I want to convey is that it takes each and every one of us working together to improve our communities. It takes brave people to step forward and committed people in support roles. I have lived my entire life serving my community and working for the betterment of each and every one of our lives. I would not change one ounce of it, not one experience. And I am sure I am hardly a lone voice in that regard.