Where do I start?
I lost tonight: hard. I want to say “we” lost tonight, but it all felt so completely alone, I can’t say that right now.
This is municipal politics and I’m going to admit that yeah, maybe I’m not cut out for it. I didn’t run for City Council because I wanted to climb the ladder. I didn’t run because I wanted some sense of power. I didn’t run so I could have control over other people.
It was a natural progression. I wanted to make a difference. I didn’t want to be an activist; I just wanted to make something better. I volunteered for so many things for so many years: Girl Scouts, PTA, Humane Heroes. Even when I was younger: I remember going to Juvenile Hall with a group from my church, to listen to other teenagers and tell them they were loved. Sometimes my mother and I would go prepare lunches and serve the homeless, something I repeated a handful of times as an adult with my own children. When I was really young, I remember that every Christmas, we’d visit strangers in a nursing home, bring them gifts, and sit with them. It was the hardest thing to do for a shy kid, but my Dad always pushed me and reminded me that some people don’t get visitors and a kid would brighten their day, and that made things worth it.
That’s what life is, right? Doing something worthwhile.
I hated running for Council. I second-guessed myself all the time. I was never comfortable with my name on a giant sign outside the HEB, or my face in the newspaper. I just wanted to make things better, not draw attention. It was uncomfortable, and if I’m being 100% honest, I felt like an impostor the entire time.
And then I won.
Cue: Crisis mode. I was the dog that caught the ball and didn’t know what to do with it. I spent the first several months just taking everything in: learning, clarifying, trying to figure out what value I could add to anything. Everyone else seemed so much more qualified than I was, so much more assured of what they were doing….and I was…me. Just me.
I received an angry text one day that said that one person on Council had this one thing that was always their message, and another person always had this other thing that was always their message, and that I was off on an island by myself. I typed out a response, but felt so cheesy that I never sent it. I still remember the main part of it though: I said “community is my thing”.
I spent so many months trying to figure out my place, and it had been with me all my life. Community was my thing.
And this is the part where it’s now 2am and I’ve had 10 hours of sleep this week and my brain will fuzzily remember this when my alarm clock goes off in a few hours…but this is where I bring it home a little:
I keep reading that I have this agenda or that agenda, and so far, every single one has been wrong. My agenda is to just support my community, to let people know they don’t have to feel alone in the world, to give kids happy memories to tell their own children about. Cheesy, I know, but not exactly the kind of nefarious, evil motives commonly ascribed.
Here’s a confession that I’ve told privately to a handful of people, and maybe it’s time I just say it out loud. I find Council to be depressing: I have for a long time. I thought it would get better after the last election, I actually looked forward to that because I was so certain of it…but it didn’t. In fact, I’d say every single week has been steadily worse than the one before.
I used to come to meetings early and greet people. I tried to stay a little late if I could to answer any questions. And now… Now I’m the last to arrive and first to leave. I haven’t checked out, it just feels so toxic and unfixable, I don’t want to be there.
Tonight is a great example.
I’m reflecting on the evening. Our meeting started out awful, ended even worse, and I left feeling like I’m completely alone, and I’d missed seeing my family all night for what? I’m wasting the precious, finite hours of my life so I can feel like I’m talking to myself….it’s hard after these meetings to think of the the high points.
Tonight, a woman spoke to us about her family and her home. She seemed nervous to speak, and when she cried, I cried with her. And we got her what she needed. Such a high point.
And now I’m ugly crying. Thanks sleep deprivation.
This is an analogy for our city though, right? We have these incredible highs, these shining spots…and it’s the lows and the ugliness that stands out in our minds and shapes the way we feel about our community and the way we treat each other.
Tonight, all the residents of Leander lost access to the meeting rooms they pay for, and for what? We talk about how we want to make this a great place for people to live or for businesses to come here, but then we strip away an amenity because we choose the easy route of focusing on the negative emotions of people, instead of on how we can make someone else’s world brighter.
I’m just so sad for what our town has become. I’m so sad for the people who relied on those rooms. And overall, I’m just so sad.
I’m sorry I couldn’t come through this time.