VIRGINIA BEACH — I decided to run for the Virginia House of Delegates in the 81st District this year because I wanted to help people.
I am a survivor of stage IV colon cancer, which means the cancer had spread in my body. I wanted to make sure that people had access to affordable quality healthcare.
I had no misconceptions about the odds I faced. Winning a seat as a Democrat in a reliably red district like the 81st was going to be a heavy lift against an entrenched, wealthy, long-term incumbent. I guess there is a reason my husband calls me “scrappy” because the opportunity to help people was worth the fight to me.
I had absolutely no interest in a political career on a trajectory for some higher office. In fact, my campaign motto was, “I’m not running for office, I’m running for you.”
I remember my very first campaign interview – which happened to be with John Doucette of The Independent News – I said that I wanted to have a focus on constituent services so that I could help people solve their problems. It occurred to me that that was one thing that was missing in our political dialogue today.
If there is one thing that I learned on the campaign trail over the last nine months, it’s just how truly broken our political system has become. Too many people from across the political spectrum are skeptical, disconnected, and believe that politicians are more concerned with winning elections than they are about meeting the needs of people.
Politicians are too often more concerned about what constituents can do for them – voting, donating or offering yard space for yard signs – than they are about what they can do for constituents.
Although I won’t be in Richmond as a delegate in 2018, I am honored to have had the opportunity to connect with voters. I am even more fortunate that I will have the opportunity to continue the work I began as a member of the South Hampton Roads Impact Council for Democratic Promise, a new grassroots initiative launched by state Del. Sam Rasoul, D-11th House District, of Roanoke.
Democratic Promise will help rebuild confidence in the democratic process by proactively reaching out to people in our community, including rural communities, regardless of their political affiliation.
This time, we won’t be calling to ask for their vote or to talk about yard signs. Our goal is to rebuild trust by reaching out proactively.
We’ll listen to concerns, and connect people with trained Democratic Promise community workers who will help make sure government services like public education, disability or veterans services are adequately meeting their needs.
Given the outcome of the race, many people may wonder if it was worth spending countless hours away from my family and my two-year-old baby who I’m in the process of adopting.
One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned from talking to people on the campaign trail is that people want someone in office who will fight for them and the issues that are important to them.
Someone who will reach out and say, “How can I help you?”
Del. Rasoul put it this way: “It’s time to channel the momentum from this recent election so that it reaches people at the individual level-hand to hand, eye to eye and voice to voice.”
I couldn’t agree more. I look forward to doing just that in the future, and I encourage everyone – especially in today’s political climate – to find someone who needs a champion and ask them how you can help, too.
Kimberly Anne Tucker, a retired educator, ran for public office for the first time this year.
© 2017 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC