Nearly a year ago, I made one of the most difficult decisions of my life and ran for the City Council District 7 seat.
This was a strenuous time for a number of reasons; I ran against an incumbent, I had a six-week-old baby and a 19-month-old son, I was already operating a fast-growing small business, and I had never run for office before.
On June 9, I lost the run-off election.
In the last weeks before the election, it was hard for me to knock on one more door, raise one more dollar, and rally my team to go forward every single day. I could barely see one step in front of me. But something kicked in: grit.
I wouldn’t say that I was a person with a tremendous amount of grit before entering the race. Frankly, when situations were tough, I often avoided them. What that election gave me was huge. I could no longer run away. I had to dig in and fight. Every. Single. Day. I had to make it happen for my campaign, for my business and for my family. We lost but survived, and I am better for it. There were many times, I swore, I could taste the grit between my teeth.
I would love to tell you that road was full of support. It was at times. But more often it felt like I was in the middle of a pretty desolate town. Imagine tumbleweeds. Instead of turning to others for help, I found peace within myself through prayer and the thought that what I was doing mattered. Even if we lost.
Running for political office as a woman and as a mother is scary and lonely. There just have not been a ton of other women to do it in San Antonio. Women who have – like Melissa Aguillon, Ina Minjarez, Tina Torres and I know there are many more – motivated me by sharing their support and stories. I’m grateful that they ran and that they’re helping other women.
I swore that I would never consider running for public office again. But it is kinda like labor. Somehow you forget the hard part.
Last Nov. 12, almost 30 days before the Dec. 14 filing date, I met with Annie’s List, a political action committee that recruits women to seek public office, to discuss running for Texas House District 116, the seat Trey Martinez Fischer is leaving to pursue José Menéndez’s spot as District 26 state senator.
It was a pretty simple conversation; I understood the importance of the race, no woman has ever held the 116 seat – we only have one women in our entire delegation, and I had just run a campaign five months ago.
But unlike my first time running, I knew what the stakes were. And they were too high. I had my company, Opt In Experts, to run. I was opening a new co-working space, The Workery, in two months. And did I mention that I have two children under the age of 3?
My team and I debated and talked about the race until 2:30 p.m. on December 14. Heartbreak is telling the CEO of Annie’s List, between sobs, that you just can’t do it. I just couldn’t. Not then.
That evening, the calls began. Candidates who had filed for the 116 began calling to talk about their candidacy and why I should support them. Something about those calls really bothered me and I couldn’t understand what it was. It finally dawned on me. Why should I have the opportunity to visit with each of these candidates in private? Why couldn’t these conversations be public for every voter in 116 to hear? I know the power of having a conversation with a voter. I am certain there were times that I changed people’s minds and times that I did not.
Painfully aware of San Antonio’s abysmal voter turnout, I wondered, “What if we could record these conversations for all the voters in 116 to hear and learn from?” As I watched the House District 120, Senate District 26 and Senate District 19 races develop, the idea for a podcast began to develop.
Here’s the thing: if I felt isolated in my council campaign, largely cut off from support and guidance, voters have it a hundred times worse. At least I talked with District 7 residents every day. Yet most people never directly hear from the local and state candidates who want their votes. Sure, maybe a canvasser will knock on your door, but that’s about it. Part of the reason is that the media, because of limited resources, focuses on a shockingly small number of races.
I want voters to hear candidates’ voices, get a sense of them as people, find out what’s important to them, and get a feel for how they’d conduct themselves in office.
But I don’t want this conversation to end with the March 1 primary elections. We need to keep talking about the issues and events that are important to all of us in San Antonio. We need to stay in touch.
So, let’s give it a shot. Introducing the 210 Podcast. A show about all things San Antonio, but with lots of politics. We have been busy recording – and here is our first episode, focused on the candidates for Texas House District 116. Next week, we will be talking to state Sen. Menéndez and state Rep. Fischer. Should be a good one.
*Top image: Mari Aguirre-Rodriguez (right) interviews District 116 candidate Ruby Resendez. Photo by Paul DiGiovanni.