You Should Run For Office
“You should run for office,” she said.
My response: “Absolutely not! I’ll help whoever YOU get to run.”
Literally three years later, I am serving my Neighbors in Ward IV as their representative on the Reynoldsburg City Council. That recap of my conversation with my Football Mom/Political Mentor/Council Colleague will remain with me whenever I talk with WOMEN about throwing their hats in the ring to run for office.
If you are anything like me, when a seed is planted that you do something that you have never done before, you may become like a turtle and shrink into your comfort zone and think, “No. No way. Not me. I’m not qualified. I don’t have a political background. I don’t know enough to do the job.” The list of myths and excuses floods your mind. When Councilwoman Kristin Bryant debunked all my myths, she shared something with me that stuck. She said, “You are already doing the job. You are in the community. People trust your judgment and opinion. You volunteer in the community. You are involved in organizations.” She went on and on about the “stuff” I do in the community, in my church and sorority. She was on to something. I said, “Yes,” but I was not 100% committed.
However, when the time came for me to knock doors to gain enough signatures on my petition, I realized talking to people, listening to their joys and concerns and making connections is indeed what I do in my personal world! All that fuels my passion to serve. That was my ”Aha Moment!” to dive right in. My next step was to get some real training on how to be a candidate so that I could run a viable campaign.
I learned that we women typically need to be asked seven times to run for office before we say, “Yes.” Well, in my case, it was well over 15 times. So, let’s get this out of the way. Run for office? Run for office? Run for office? Run for office? Run for office? Run for office? Run for office?
During my campaign, I realized that this journey was a huge ongoing professional development experience. I learned a great deal about myself and the political process. Running for office is not for the weak hearted. We women want to be 110% prepared and have all our i’s dotted and t’s crossed. However, our male counterparts usually jump right in to run for office because their approach is to figure it out once they get started. We women should relax our reluctance and just go for it! A scary feat I had to overcome was to just introduce myself to people and boldly start a conversation and proclaim, “I’m a candidate for City Council.” But something even more scary was the idea that I had to raise money and ask my family, friends AND strangers to donate to my campaign. I must admit it was scary at first, but once I embraced going for it and getting comfortable with being uncomfortable, I DID IT! I found that people want to help you when you can establish a relationship with them, or because they like your platform or because their values align with yours.
So, you are ready to run for office?!? That’s great news! My recommendation and advice are to seek out a political mentor, seek out training like LEAD Ohio, participate in networking events, show up to all community events, knock doors and introduce yourself to the folks in your district, register voters, have fundraising events, and seek endorsements that align with you values. Running for office is hard, but it sure is worth it when you can make a phone call to connect a Neighbor with a needed resource or when you can vote to support legislation that is meaningful to your district.
Meredith Lawson-Rowe is originally from Springfield, Oh. She is one of three black women elected to Reynoldsburg City Council in November, 2019. (Reynoldsburg is a suburb of Columbus, Ohio, which sits in Franklin, Fairfield and Licking counties, and per the 2010 census has a population of 35,893.) Lawson-Rowe ran on a slate of women who called themselves the #WomenofReynoldsburg and #FootballMoms. The other women elected to council were Angie Jenkins, President, and Shanette Strickland, Councilwoman Ward 1.Lawson-Rowe is a professional Executive Assistant with experience providing outstanding administrative support to c-suite executives and senior level administrators. She has been an active resident of Reynoldsburg for 17 years and has been married to Rondal Rowe, Jr for 29 years. They are the proud parents of three children and two grandchildren.