They want me to run again, and I don’t know what to do.
Not actual running (although I do that all of the time these days). The local Democrats called me into a meeting last week and asked me if I would be interested in running for the Board of Education here in town.
I ran four years ago for the same position. Me and three other girlfriends, we all ran together. We were naive and hopeful and thought that we could truly make a difference. We thought we all would get elected if we just worked hard enough, campaigned hard enough. We were smart, we were active in all of our kids’ schools, our hearts were so in the right place. We weren’t using the election to this board as a stepping stone for anything else, like mayor (we call them Selectmen here in New England). We just saw a lot in our kids’ schools that we thought we could change.
Only one of the four of us got a seat on the board, thanks to a rule in our town charter called Minority Representation. There had to be at least three members of the minority party on the 9 person board. That meant even though the four of us had the least votes of any candidate running, one of us, the one with the most votes, would get a seat.
That wasn’t me. It was my friend Kelly.
In the last four years, I’ve watched her, talked to her about her experiences on the board. I was sure she’d run again for her seat because she’s been very good on the Board. People like her, and respect her.
But it’s hard. It’s a lot of meetings. And while those outside the board and local politics like her and respect her, she gets a lot of pushback from one member of the opposite party on the Board. Enough to make some of the meetings fairly miserable. She also gets some pushback from members of her own party, the Democrats, when she compromises too much or agrees with the other party “too much”. Which is also unpleasant.
She’s done a lot of good on the Board. She did an awful lot when the Sandy Hook students came here to our town to get their school ready. She was there every day working in the school, meeting families and parents, doing an awful lot for people who truly needed it. If I’d been in that chair, I could have done those things too.
Kelly isn’t going to run again for her seat. She has a lot of other things she wants to do with her time, and it is very time consuming. She’s done some of what we all had set out to do four years ago, and resigned herself to the fact that she can’t do it all.
Watching her over the last four years has given me a very honest, real perspective on what I would be in for if I ran and were elected. And I keep waffling. On the one hand, I don’t have a boatload of spare time either. I’m trying to expand my freelance work, I am president of our Parents’ Council, I am on our Farmers’ Market Committee, I work with a local education advocacy group and I am in charge of our local 5K this year (more on that in another post). It’s a lot of commitment. Do I really think I can add one more?
But I still wonder what it would be like to actually sit at the table. To get a say, to have a voice. To make a difference, to really have an opportunity to do those good things for the children here in town.
I just don’t know what to do.