Thoughts From The Office and the Campaign Trail

April 26, 2016 2 comments

Ok, so I am talking about another office.

Last night I finished watching the series, “The Office.”

The reason I mention this is because 1) I am sad that I have to say goodbye (yet again) to Jim and Pam and 2) it reminded me once again of how simple, and yet happy–life can actually be…outside of politics.

With 41 days left in this primary, I have been reflecting a lot on this entire process. Not img_6338just as a candidate, but as a woman of color who is trying to balance ego-mania and imposter syndrome, all at the same time.

Late at night, after a long day of work and RubioNM35, my favorite thing to come home to is another episode of this funny sitcom–coming at us from Scranton, PA. (Which by the way, today is the Pennsylvania primary)

I can’t lie. I sometimes ask myself, “couldn’t you just have worked in an office supply profession?”

Life would be so. much. easier.

When I first decided to run back in November, it was a tough decision and one that I did not take lightly. As an alumni of Emerge New Mexico, I have learned and toted that insane statistic of, “women must be asked seven times to run for office.” For yours truly, it took about 30,000,000 times.

And I finally said yes–on the condition that I would run on my own terms. As an organizer, there was no way that I would compromise my values just to win an election and I have remained solid in that promise.

Here is the thing. I am the candidate to beat in this primary. So it is no surprise that rumors are swirling about what sort of attacks will come my way during the end of this primary election season. And c’mon? I shouldn’t be surprised, right? It happened to my good friend and candidate during the non-partisan Las Cruces Municipal races back in November–when hundreds of thousands of dollars of out-of-state money, trickled in, trying to defeat her and other progressive candidates in these races.

img_6299-2Let’s be real. I certainly expect it to happen in an election cycle like this one–where Republican’s have no viable presidential candidate and have no other option but to invest in state and local races. They will also try to do it in a primary, particularly supporting candidates that are less progressive than I am. Yes. Even in a democratic race. They obviously have the money for it.

Being politically involved in my community for most of my life, I understand that this is a game to a lot of people. Furthermore, this game is insanely expensive and in under 41 days, you will begin to see what that amount of money looks like and what it will buy. It will be disgusting.

You will also see what they will do to me–and many other good people like me, just as they have done to those that have come before me. As sad and upsetting that might be, I will be ok. I have family, friends and supporters who know what I stand for and are committed. Win or lose. We will all survive this–and so will every other woman who ever decides to take on this very hard and yet important role. We need you.

Then….together, we’ll change the shit out of politics for the long run. And for good.

So yeah, this work is not easy. It is nothing like another funny episode of The Office that you can just watch for 20 minutes and turn off until the next evening. But this phase in my life is certainly an episode–and sometimes a very funny one, with chapters just waiting to be written. But I will be the one to write them.

Until then, the campaign continues and the stories of folks in the community must be heard and acted on.

(I also promise not to take so long to write next time.)

But for now…

Below are some pictures of some very important events with family and friends in both my personal and campaign life from the last few weeks. These people mean so much to me and are the rock that I need for this very challenging and yet exciting process.

Follow me and all the things here on my blog at The Rubio Dispatch or on Twitter at @anrubio or on Instagram at @anhellykah 

Our Obsession With Political Viability

Apologies for not writing this week. My parents and sister drove into town last Thursday and my weekend was spent laying low with them. Then there was work and the campaign–well, it’s been quite a blur. Not much time to sit down and write.

But since it is Friday, and I get most of my blog views around this time, I thought I’d share a quick post of some reflections I have had this week. Since receiving a big endorsement from AFSCME, I am now anxiously awaiting to hear from a couple of other endorsements in the coming days, so wish me luck.

The irony of this anxiety around these endorsements, however, is what has lead to me to write about this obsession we have with political viability.

Is a candidate electable? Will she/he raise enough money? Will she/he hit x number of doors?

Etc, etc. 

If we’re thinking about winning elections in the short term, I get it. But let’s be real. We’re shooting ourselves in the foot because our communities are being short changed by this mindset. What I am talking about is looking long-term…

Transforming our communities.

Don’t know what I mean? Here’s an example.

In the fall, I participated in this campaign managing training and there were some elected officials in attendance. One of the question’s they raised to the presenter was,

“How do we defeat the outside money that’s coming into our elections? We can’t possibly win?!”

Annoyed, I was about to raise my hand to answer–but the presenter responded before she could call on me and said,

“You knock on doors and you talk to voters!”

The elected was…silent, and then confused. Like, as if they didn’t understand the answer.

I wanted to ask,

“When was the last time you knocked on doors and talked to your constituents?”

Which brings me back to my reflections on endorsements, fundraising and viability for my race specifically–and every other democratic race for that matter.

As progressives, if we envision a better world for our community, it is imperative that in order to do the best thing for all of us, we must change our ways and focus on the long-term, which means base-building and voter registration year around–and not waiting until the last few months before a race.

More importantly, for the elected–the work begins with base building and it must start on day 1 of their term.

I know. It is easy for me to say, right? I am not yet an elected–so what do I know?

I can already hear them tell me,

“You don’t know how hard it is?”

Ok, yes. And what I am saying is that it is not the responsibility of one policy maker to do it all and to make this difference. What I am suggesting is that progressives, particularly those of us at the local and state levels, we should work to change the narrative–to let go of chasing after the money just to keep up with our opposition (because we can beat the money) and be honest with ourselves: we will never have their kind of money.

So let’s do what we do best. Let’s organize. 

That I can promise and I will do it when elected.

And…let’s be real. I’ll still do it if I am not.

 

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So Tired, I Couldn’t Even Take The Trash Out. 

 


Organizing

This morning I spent it at the university, as I was invited to speak to a social work class lead by my good friend and Las Cruces City Councilor, Kasandra Gandara. She has been spending time talking about dominate narratives that perpetuate status quo’s that negatively impact our communities, and asked me to not only discuss my experience as an organizer, but to also share how we can dismantle said narratives by sharing our stories.

I shared some of my story, and mostly about my relationship with Kasandra–someone who once was just a name on list of people I should speak to, eventually became a member of the NM CAFé Executive Committee for the Raise the Wage Campaign, to a Las Cruces City Councilor, and of course–one of my closest friend’s.

It’s imperative that students, particularly those working in social work, understand the difference between transactional and transformational relationships–especially when we’re talking about greater institutional and systemic change. My relationship with Kasandra–I believe, clearly demonstrates on how our transformational relationship is working to make change together and with many in our community.

The students in the class were attentive, asked great questions, and once again reassured me that while the future is in fact–in our hands, the future is in good hands.


The Doors

Fortunately for me, the wind died down a little by 5p, giving me a chance to hit a good 40 doors. I am so glad that I did.

I first spoke to Theresa, who was getting her roof fixed–after the damage her home received back in early fall. Not only was she super nice, but she is planning to vote on June 7, and she’s pretty certain she’s voting for me.

Tim was someone else who I spoke with, and was super nice. Although I was looking for someone else in the home, he was happy to speak with me for a few minutes. I learned that he is not a registered voter, and has not voted since he was living in California years ago. Now fifty years old, he doesn’t think it’s worth it–especially during this presidential year where he is neither happy with Clinton or Trump. The voter registration forms I carry with me was not enough to convince him to register today, but he did say he wouldn’t mind me checking in with him in the coming weeks.

Tim, I’ll be calling you.

Down the street was Yvette’s home and it was her dog who I met first. Although her pup weighed, maybe 10lbs–it sure did compete well in scaring me like no other dog on the street. It would even give my 90lb baby, Lennon, a run for his money. When I first saw Yvette, my implicit bias right away told me that she would not be interested in talking to me. Her body covered in tattoos and piercings, and some tough talk from the the hallway to the door, convinced me for a few seconds that she would not be voting in the primary.

I was wrong. 

We spoke at the door for a few minutes, before Yvette came outside and shared that she knew there was a primary coming up but didn’t think there was any reason for her to vote. I explained my candidacy for House 35 and the more I shared and the more I listened to her story, she came around and to the conclusion that I was worth her time to walk into Branigan Library and vote for me on June 7.

Then her dog shooshed me away. So there’s that.

One of the last homes visited, had a Bernie Sanders bumper sticker on their car. Although their name was not on my walk list, I decided to knock anyway.

At the door, I was welcomed by Carrie and her young daughter, both not knowing what I wanted but polite enough to answer and to humor me for just showing up. We didn’t chat for long, but I left behind literature and I am certain that Carrie will be a voter on June 7.

She liked my Facebook page late last night. Progress!


Today turned out to be a day filled with so much and while I was exhausted by the time I headed out to the doors, it was so worth it in the end. I am always grateful to have this opportunity to talk to people.

Lastly, I would like to thank my right-hand, Connie Chapman, who not only keeps me grounded and this campaign in check, she even took time away from her afternoon to drive me around, just so I wouldn’t be as wind blown. I am so lucky.

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Why Are There So Many Songs Written About Tuesday? 

  
Today was hella windy. What else can I say? 

With 69 days left in the campaign…ok, 68  in a couple hours, (but who’s counting) I had a compelling conversation with a colleague this morning who said, 

“Some live their lives for money. Some live their lives for glory. Some live their lives for power. Some live for all three. You must live your life for service.” 

It’s the only way, right?  

 

In other related news, I went to the doctor this afternoon only to find out that my blood pressure continues to be high–despite monitoring it daily the last two weeks. I even invested in a digital monitor, if you can believe that? 

The good news is, it has forced me to try harder to eat well, to exercise more and relieve stress. 

Stress? Me?

Makes me reflect on the countless who can’t afford to monitor their own blood pressure, or any other health issue for that matter. 

I spent most of the afternoon reading and writing about public education, and it is amazing to me how it is all correlated–poverty, lack of health care, quality of life, etc. Imagine if we put as much effort into erraticating poverty as we do, say…blaming the poor for our mishaps? 
Tomorrow I hit the doors again–wind or not. 

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Monday Check-In

Today was a chill day for me–spent most of the day reflecting on the weekend and the stories of the voters I met at the doors.

Ending the night, I spent it with my campaign team, and very much excited about our plans for the coming weeks, which includes a number of activities for the doors, fundraisers, etc.

As of tonight, there are 70 days, 1 hour and 27 minutes left until the primary. 

I don’t have much else to write tonight except for a couple of things that I have been thinking about:

  1. Having the courage to speak up, in order to be heard–is a privilege. I don’t have the right to hold back because there are people who depend on me to speak up. If not me, than who?
  2. I must tell the fucking truth with love in my heart.

 

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When Lip Service Becomes The Enemy

March 26, 2016 1 comment
Today, one of my biggest learnings came from two powerful women, Carli and Daisy, both from Shakti Riimg_5378-2sing–who shared a panel on civil discourse at the Conversations with Democrats. Having spent most of the morning and afternoon knocking on doors and hearing heavy stories from voters in district 35, it was refreshing to hear them speak to what I believe is missing from this discourse: a sentiment of the heart. A re-imagining of a different world where it’s not about the outcome but about the process of building community.
Full disclosure: a couple people walked out, I’m sad to say.
So much for civil discourse.
But it is true. So many people in the community have been left out of timg_6299-2he process of democracy. Instead, we have created a society that spends energy on transactional relations to build political capital versus spending the time deepening relationships in order to transform an entire community. Honestly, all it has gotten us is surrounding ourselves with super engaged folks and demeaning those who are not engaged.
Today’s experience at the doors was incredibly heavy on my heart because as I reflect on the day, I realize that, I too, have contributed to the numbers game and the outcome. In many cases, I have not lead with my heart.
Which brings me to the doors, where today I met with voters–in what’s becoming one of my favorite neighborhoods in Las Cruces, just east of Solano. Of the countless doors I knocked on today, there are three stories I want to share that proves this idea of how civil discourse has excluded people from the democratic process and not because they didn’t care to participate. We just didn’t invite them.

Frank
A good friend of mine joined me on today’s canvass and we split up the turf so that she was hitting the odds while I got the evens, and vice versa. At one of my homes, no one answered so I walked across the street to where she was, talking to someone at the door.
It was Frank.
Frank served time over 10 years ago, and now is unable to find work because of the felony that lives on his record. Meanwhile, he has not only acquired his bachelors degree but has gone on to attain an additional three associates degrees, is married with children, one of which is graduating High School with honors. He must be doing something right!
He’s frustrated.
While attaining a higher education and raising a family and trying to get his life together, he has managed to find the time to advocate for himself–searching for avenues to reach the Governor for a pardon but to no avail. Hold up! Don’t go blaming Susana right away. There are quite a few Dems who haven’t been much help to Frank either.
He is a taxpayer, a voter–someone who has clearly redeemed himself, and yet we as a society have told him, “you’re not welcome.”
What are we doing to welcome the Frank’s of the world–to this table of civil discourse?

Jeneen
Jeneen is a United States Veteran, who served her time in the service and returned to Las Cruces to settle in the home she purchased over ten years ago.
After some Election Day back and forth at the door, she proceeded to inform me of her experiences as a woman at the VA. She mentioned that medical staff do not always treat her as the soldier she is but as the wife of a soldier. In fact, she was quick to point out that her whole career–including her life now in the civilian world, has continued. Regardless of how hard she works and how smart she is.

We definitely had something in common in this case, as I shared my own personal challenges. I mentioned to her that last week, during a Democratic event with my other two male opponents, it was the first time, I think ever–where I felt uneasy about the implicit biases against me as a woman who chose this career path. My opponents both shared photos of them and their families, as if this is what makes them more electable. Meanwhile my slides, illustrated the work that I do and plan to do as a legislator. It was fascinating to gain her perspective as a veteran, because although we have made strides to challenge the patriarchy and overcome obstacles, there is still so much of it embedded in our system, that it is hard to shake off.What are we doing to welcome Jeneen to this table of civil discourse?

Nemecio
Nemecio was tough. He was ready to have it out with me considering that one of my opponents in the democratic primary had just stopped by himself.
Nemecio is done with politics. For a man his age, who has seen everything, how could I blame him?
From inside the house, he sternly said, “hold on a minute,” as I heard him talk to his dogs to send them to the backyard.
Finally he comes out the front door, allows me to give him my shpeel, grabs my literature and says,
“You’re all the same. You may be one way now but you’ll change. They always change.”
He continued. At some moments, berating policy makers–offending me and my friend a few times with sexist remarks. It was the first time in this entire campaign that I felt small. I didn’t quite know how to respond.
There was a moment when my friend tried to intervene in order to get away from the situation. But I didn’t move. I just kept taking it.
Finally, I asked him,
“At what point in your life did you give up on the system? What happened to you that has lead you to lose all hope in all of this? “
At first I thought he didn’t understand the question, because I think I may have repeated it to him a couple of times. I also believe that he was caught off guard by the question. It seemed as if one had asked him that before.
In the calmest I’d seen him he said,
“I lost all faith in the early 90s when I was let go of a job I believed I earned and was good at it.
Ah!
After a couple minutes of him sharing more of this, he became different. His attitude changed completely. He was now opening my literature as he spoke, unfolding it and working on straightening the creases he had bent and folded over and over again with his hands out of frustration.
We said our goodbye’s and I thanked him for giving me a chance to speak to him and I truly believe I got his support. I don’t want to say that my visit redeemed his faith in the process, but it was clear that whatever damage he had, there was a fraction of a wound that was beginning to heal.
What aimg_6309-2re we doing to welcome Nemecio to the table of civil discourse?
Folks, it really is about leading with the heart.
I must lead with my heart.
This is my life’s work. I know it will take decades to even make a fraction of a difference but I will go the distance.
I have to.
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When You Think You’ve Heard Them All

Although today was supposed to be my day off, it turned out to be super busy and ultimately productive day, filled with learning. It wasn’t the meetings I attended this afternoon that taught me anything. It was the door-to-door I have been doing since January, that shined a light on how disconnected policy makers are from constituents and how far constituents feel from their lawmakers. 

As I was heading to a meeting at the county office, my phone rang from a local number I did not recognize. 

I was in such a rush that I considered not answering. But I quickly decided to pick up, “Hello?

Gentleman: “Is this the Rubio campaign?”

I hesitated for a sec (as it’s still hard to get used to hearing that)

“Yes, I am Angelica. Who is this?” 

Gentleman says, “I’m Edward. You left a flier on my door and I’m calling to find out about Election Day.” 

Me: “_______” 

Edward: “Hello?” 

Me: “Yes! Election Day is June 7 and early voting starts May 10. Are you planning to vote?” 

Edward: “I vote in every election! I’m going to vote for you!” 

Me: “_______” 

Edward: “Hello??” 

Me: “Sir, that’s awesome! I’m so happy to hear that. But you and I haven’t met and I’m running against two other Democrats. What made you decide to vote for me?” 

Edward: “Not one campaign has ever come to my door. You’re the first.” 

Me: *tears well up my eyes* “Thank you, sir. I really appreciate your support and your vote.” 

Folks. In this man’s 70+ years, a Democrat who has consistently voted in elections, has not once had a candidate or lawmaker visit his home to pay him a visit. 

Think about that. Never. 

Tomorrow I head out to another day of door knocking and it’s stories like these that motivate me. It’s stories like these that remind me time and time again on how critical one-to-one’s are. 

We don’t always have the answers. It’s the people behind the doors who do. 

Categories: Uncategorized
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