The most difficult thing is the decision to act. ~Amelia Earhart
This week’s post is written by St. Louis County Councilwoman Kelli Dunaway, who took St. Louis by storm in 2019 when she ran – and won! – a special election to fill a seat on the 7-member St. Louis County Council. At over one million residents, St. Louis County is the most populous County in Missouri (and 1/6 of the state’s population).
Kelli wasn’t your typical candidate, and she’s not your typical County Councilwoman. A single mom with two young kids, she’s a firecracker with a law degree, a great sense of humor, and a strong sense of who she is – and why she wants to be where she is.
Kelli threw herself into her race because she recognized the importance of having women (and moms!) at the table making decisions.
Now, I’m grateful to say, she’s at that table.
I asked Kelli to share her perspective with you. I’ll let her take it away…
As you all read, week after week, here at Small Deeds Done, our democracy is in actual peril. A huge percentage of our fellow citizens (though certainly a minority) are trying to tilt our government back into the hands of a few old white “semi-fascist” men by any means necessary.
And Michele shows you week after week how you can do small things that make a big difference. But this week, I’m going to ask you to do something HUGE that can sometimes feel like it only makes a small ripple of difference.
Run for office. And win! Like I did!
If you’ve ever thought about it, wondered about it, or brushed aside the idea because it’s crazy, I’m asking you to double down on that coulda, mighta, woulda been and make it happen. Run for office, get elected, and become a legislator.
Our country needs you. Other women need you. As a lady legislator, I need you.
I spend a lot of time imagining what could be in our community and country. I literally do imagine all the people sharing all the world (and sometimes in the hardest of times, if I close my eyes, I can hear John Lennon singing it!). And when I look around at who is in charge, I see a sea of middle aged and older white men who’ve had similar backgrounds and experiences, and share a similar worldview, sitting in rooms deciding what’s best for everyone whose lives exist beyond that worldview.
I’m not saying these men are bad people or bad legislators. In fact, I have mentors and friends I call “old white guys” to their faces, men I love and admire and appreciate, men who share my passion for equity and advancement for all people and who join me in the fight for a better world every day.
I’m simply pointing out that a myopic worldview with limited creative thinking is deciding how to spend our tax dollars, which policies are prioritized, which laws are passed, who gets to the front of the line, who is mired in our criminal justice system, and how education, healthcare, and women’s reproductive rights are supported or not.
These voices speaking for all of us don’t represent the majority of us. Imagine what is possible if we built a truly representative government?
Imagine what’s possible if a woman majority was making decisions about education, social and climate policy, healthcare, how we prioritize taxation and spending, who pays what fair share, and what an equitable America really looks like?
Imagine how you can turn your experience and insights into policy solutions, working together with other brilliant people from all walks of life to design and execute programs that work for everyone. Imagine all the people sharing all the world because of the ideas you bring and the work you do.
So what’s stopping you from bringing your voice to the table, sharing your ideas, speaking your truth, and making policies that help more people?
Oh wait, I know. It’s not the right time, you’ll wait until the kids get older, there’s that promotion coming up at work, you don’t have enough experience, or the millions of other reasons not to raise your hand. But here’s the thing, there’s never a right time. But now is the time we need you.
Despite having little kids, a full time demanding career, a household to run on my own, and a million other reasons to put it off, I hired a team of moms to lead my campaign and I made being a single professional mom to young kids as central to my candidacy as it is to my life. And I now represent everyone in my district with young kids, balancing life, work, the cost of childcare, and all of this information available to them with a few letters and a swipe. And my community needs that representation, just like your community needs what you bring to the table.
So I’m going to ask you one more time to do something HUGE. Put aside all the reasons not to do it and lean into the two that really matter.
You are amazing and we need you.
Run for office! And win!
To get you started, here are a couple of organizations that will help you: Run for Something (https://runforsomething.net/), and She Should Run (https://www.sheshouldrun.org/)
Thank you, Kelli! Now that you’ve been inspired, check out the actions for a training this week to help you make a plan. This is the perfect time to start thinking about running! With two years, you’ve got time to build a coalition, make connections, and build your platform.
As political folks like to say… you can get more money, you can get more volunteers, you can get more staff… but you can never get more time.
And right now, time is on your side.
Let’s get to work.
Actions for the Week of September 6, 2022
Take Kelli’s Advice! Join NTDC for a training on September 9
The National Democratic Training Committee is fabulous, and I rave about them often. This week they’re hosting a “So You Think You Want to Run for Office” training, and because I know you’re motivated after Kelli’s pep talk, you should join! HERE is the link to sign up. As with all of NDTC’s offerings, it’s virtual and 100% free.
Call Parson: Clemency for Kevin Johnson
Heads’ up Missouri folks. Kevin Johnson has been scheduled for execution in November, so please take two minutes and call Gov. Parson to ask for clemency. There is an incredibly sad backstory here.
Call (573) 751-3222 then press 2.
Script: “Hi, my name is _____. [If you live in Missouri, share town and zip code.] I am calling to ask that Governor Parson grant clemency to Kevin Johnson who is scheduled to be executed on November 29th, 2022. Life is precious – and I know the Governor agrees with that. In solidarity with many others, I am asking Governor Parson to stop this execution and commute Kevin’s sentence to life without the possibility of parole. Thank you. [H/T Jessica Craven & Jen Hofmann both!]
Thank a Union – and Then Fight With Them (Two Actions)
Waaayyy back in March, the House passed the PRO Act, which is the most significant pro-labor legislation since the ’40s. Yet another piece of incredibly consequential legislation that would mean so much if it were passed in the Senate.
Right now, the PRO Act has 47 Senators (all Dems, wouldn’t you know) who are cosponsoring. Great, but not enough (by about 13). Call your Senators – both of them – and remind them if they waxed poetic about Labor over the holiday but aren’t on board with the PRO Act, it’s all just a bunch of hot air.
Script: Hi, my name is ____ and I’m a constituent at ____. I’m calling because I saw the Senator celebrating workers and Labor over the weekend – but see that s/he is not listed as a cosponsor of the PRO Act. Does the Senator support the Act? I strongly encourage the Senator to reconsider, and to cosponsor and support this important legislation.
THEN: Reportedly Labor is pretty excited about the potential of electing two pro-worker Democrats to the Senate, with Ohio’s Tim Ryan and Wisconsin’s Mandela Barnes.
“We’re awfully close to having a [simple] majority — and we’re awfully close to having a majority that doesn’t think the filibuster should stand in the way of worker rights,” Mauer said. “Our figuring is that Tim Ryan and Mandela Barnes don’t plan on letting procedural high-jinks stand in the way of fighting workers.” [Read the whole Politico piece here: https://www.politico.com/newsletters/weekly-shift/2022/08/15/unions-post-reconciliation-pro-act-push-00051726]
That’s a solid assessment.
That’s where you come in! Two choices:
Join Chicago’s Indivisible for a phone bank into Wisconsin (their Wisconsin Wednesdays) to boost one of those candidates – Mandela Barnes: We’ll be calling to re-elect Governor Tony Evers, whose veto pen will be the last line of defense against Republican election chicanery, of which we expect plenty. We’ll be supporting a rising progressive star, Mandela Barnes, in his race to unseat the eminently unseatable Senator Ron Johnson. And we’ll be helping down-ballot candidates to right the balance in one of the nation’s most egregiously gerrymandered states. Sign up here: https://www.mobilize.us/mobilize/event/494091/
You can also sign up to volunteer with Mandela’s team – whether you live in Wisconsin or would be pitching in from afar. They are holding a texting team training tomorrow, September 7. Learn more here: https://www.mobilize.us/mandelabarnesforussenate/?is_virtual=true
WHEW! GO TEAM!
P.S.: Why don’t you make someone’s day and send this pep talk to a friend or two? I bet they need it.
If you’d like to sign up to get this pep talk and action list in your in-box each week, you can do that here. Welcome, friend!
P.P.S.: If you want to help support this work you can do so via Patreon at
https://www.patreon.com/smalldeedsdone or via paypal at https://www.paypal.me/smalldeeds
My deepest gratitude in advance.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for writing. I read and respond to every email! We’re in this together. Don’t you forget it.