David Weeden ran an extraordinary campaign and his win was well deserved. His campaign engaged the community and inspired people to come out and vote, which is amazing! I am confident he will be a team player and serve the people of Mashpee well.
Having been no stranger to community involvement and having some political training, I cannot lie. I thought I had a good grasp on what it would be like to be a candidate and run for office.
I knew that being a mother of young children and balancing a campaign was going to be challenging but I thought I could make it work, not in spite of them but because of them. Serving and campaigning are two very different roles!
Reflecting on this election and what it was like to actually campaign really has given me a new appreciation and respect for those parents who have tried.
In Massachusetts it is against the campaign finance laws to use campaign funds for child care. After taking the Office of Campaign and Political Finance training in Fall River, I learned that campaign funds (most of the time) are supposed to be used for expenses directly related to running for office. For example, some common expenses include paying staff to knock on doors, food for volunteers or at campaign events, signs and literature—you get the picture.
This is all fine and well when the candidate has the ability to show up for candidate debates, interviews, campaign events, even standing at the polls without worrying about who will watch their child/children. For parents of young ones at home I can see how the campaign process is unappealing.
Are we inadvertently discouraging an entire population from participating in the pursuit of public office? It is important we have representation from within all the communities of people here in Massachusetts. Parents raising children today face many different issues than previous generations and their perspectives are important.
If an individual donates to a campaign, most of the time they want the candidate to use those funds to do what they have to do to get elected. I would hope that should include the ability to consistently show up.
If we want to engage this community why wouldn’t we make child care a campaign expense? I’m not talking about day care tuition for the duration of the candidacy, I’m talking about for the events, interviews and the community outreach that is necessary to run a campaign.
When we expect parents to cover these costs out of household expenses we are discouraging them from participating and creating a legitimate barrier from their full potential of participation. Unless one has excess expendable funds, running for office can become unrealistic to those living on a budget and that’s what campaign funds are supposed to prevent.
Anyway, I do not intend to run again anytime soon, I just wanted to reflect. I am so grateful for the experience and at the least I hope I inspired others to speak up for what they believe in or to maybe get involved. We need to engage our younger generation more, we need them to know they have valuable insight and are part of our future.
Please ask your state representatives to support H.639, An Act Supporting Working Parents to Run for Public Office.
Elana C. Doyle