As I’m writing, it’s been exactly one week since I lost my bid for Jefferson County Commissioner—ample time to reflect on the process that began on January 31, 2016. What a year it has been!

My life has always been as a public servant through teaching and volunteering, so running for office seemed like a natural extension of that call to service. I was “all in” as the saying goes. As I reflect on my campaign, a sense of gratitude immediately comes to mind. I was guided by a wise and caring circle of citizens, who have worked for years, in their own ways, for the good of our county.

I am grateful for this group, particularly former Commissioner and group leader Lyn Widmyer, who generously gave their time and energy to my campaign. Politicians always thank their families for their sacrifices and help, and I echo that thanks a thousand times. Running for office is not a solo activity.

The richness of my experience will sustain me for a long time. Meeting and listening to citizens’ concerns and perspectives on what is expected (and not) of government services was eye opening. The “truest truth” I heard, again and again, was the expectation that the County Commission should listen to and consider their constituents’ opinions on what matters to them in an open, transparent, and respectful manner. I now join those voices that call for this essential practice of government, and I urge all the residents of our county to do likewise.

Of course, attending public events are expected of politicians, and I attended my fair share. With that expansion of my usual sphere of activity, I learned about the wide range of opportunities available to us all to participate in everything our county has to offer. I am in awe of the number of non-profit groups who help to make Jefferson County a better place.

I urge you to cross the County and attend a pancake supper, a benefit auction, or a bingo night and gain a sense of appreciation for the many helping hands in our larger community.

Of course, not all my experiences were positive. I am disgusted by those candidates who did not bother to appear in public forums to share their platforms in an open and honest manner. The public record is an essential part of the election process, and those who shirked it seem to me to have little respect for ALL of our citizens, no matter the party affiliation or ideological perspective that may influence the outcome. The most shocking affront was the ignorance and dismissive attitude of certain Republican candidates when they singled out the local NAACP’s candidate forum. I was both embarrassed and angry at their decision not to participate. The voters lost a chance to fully experience our elective process. What a shame.

Despite my loss, I have a renewed sense of service to my community as a citizen activist on issues that are important to me. We must provide adequate prevention and treatment programs for those who suffer from addiction. We must support our children by providing excellent schools and recreational activities. We must protect our water and other natural resources that help to shape our identity and quality of life.

I must also thank all those who supported me with actions both big and small. Your faith in me sustains me.

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