“What are these balloons for?”

“Oh! This is a Meet the Candidate Event. I am running for office.”

“I only vote locally.”

“Great! This is for a local office, school board.”

“No. I only vote for people from this country.”

This is an actual conversation I had with someone walking by my event at Magnolia Park on Saturday. My children and my mother were with me and heard the whole exchange. 

Earlier this week, King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert, who is seeking re-election, sent out attack mailers against her opponent Sarah Perry. Her mailer featured — US Vice President Kamala Harris, Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant, and just one of her nine colleagues, Councilmember Girmay Zahilay. What’s the connection? These elected leaders are all POC. This is a deeply racist attack mailer and I am glad that Seattle Times pulled their endorsement in reaction to this and her unwillingness to take responsibility and to apologize immediately. 

Sage Leaders is hosting regular support sessions for POC candidates for School Board, across Washington state, who are reporting racially motivated harassment and intimidation — verbal and physical. 

When meeting with a former elected city leader who is a Black man, I ignorantly asked him for advice on canvassing. He laughed and said, “No, I never knocked on doors. Can you imagine what would happen if an unfamiliar Black man showed up at someone’s door?”

It was important to me to run a campaign focused solely on the strengths that I bring to the table. I believe my professional skills in finance and operations are needed as our district navigates significant financial pressure from the fallout of the pandemic. I believe my lived experiences as an English as Second language student, a special education student, and as a parent of a special education student and navigating this very system for the support she needs, will inform the decisions I am making on behalf of the entire district. I believe my record of community service, including advocacy work I have already done as a volunteer for students and families, provides clues as to how I intend to serve — rooted in community engagement, collaboration, and commitment. 

None of this was apparently relevant to that person in Magnolia Park. Only the color of my skin.

I am not deterred and having gone through this experience, I am committed to supporting future POC candidates. POC candidates and elected leaders simply grapple with a whole different set of challenges. I have deeply benefited from the support of many community leaders and organizations, such as First Mile Circle. For now, it’s onward for me and a promise to carry others along with me. 

Happier Moment at Magnolia Park

 

 

Vivian and her daughter at the park
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