Part 5: The Infection Was Initially Mild

Welcome to the 5th part of my 5 Part Series: The Infection Was Initially Mild: My Small Town City Council Run, the Toxic American Pandemic Response, and What Both Mean For the Future Of the Country. 

You can also read the entire series now, download it in entirety in PDF format, catch the disclaimers in the Introduction, listen to it on Text to Speech (I have to warn you it’s a little awkward), or watch the Text to Speech on YouTube.

Also, more resources, videos, updates, and Pay What It’s Worth links can be found there too!

CLICK HERE for The Infection Was Initially Mild Landing Page

So this is the thing about politics: the wound started out incredibly small. The infection was initially mild. 

The coronavirus pandemic, and everything that came with it, quickly put on display everything that is wrong with this country. Our politics are too local. Our response is too rooted in money. Personality has become too much a part of policy making. Messaging  – not policy, or simply right or wrong – is a make or break tool, which is absurd when you really get down to it. What begins as something minor can explode into a big problem, a crisis, in a matter of just days. This is exactly what has happened.

Politicians on every level showed themselves to be incapable of handling the crisis before them. On my city council, we had so many people that couldn’t see past years of just saying what sounded best; and they failed to anticipate that this would result in a rapid erosion of trust in the community. 

When COVID first hit the United States, two of the residents of our city were on that first cruise that returned with the illness. The patients – Patients 0 and 1 for our community – were ill for a week or more before they were even tested. When we all finally found out that they had, in fact, come back with SARS-COV2, naturally the public had questions. I asked several of our city council members if we knew the locations the people had been: when I come home from a vacation, I’ll do things like take an Uber, go grocery shopping, if we came down with a cold or flu we’d go to the pharmacy. One city councilmember replied to me “well we should hope that the community helped them get what they needed so they could isolate.” Except they didn’t even know they had COVID yet, and so the trust began to erode in those earliest days for many of us. Unfortunately, and on every level, it didn’t take long before it was all lost. 

My city council race was nothing particularly unique; in fact, it was exactly what every other race in America is like. It is exactly what the future of America may end up being. People that run for water boards and school boards today get into the same type of toxic political wielding that the president does. We would be foolish to believe this is not intentional.

In fact, I know it is; as do many within the upper echelons of the two, major political parties. When I was interning at the end of my undergraduate degree, I went to the California Democratic Party’s annual convention in Sacramento as the denouement of my internship. I still vividly remember meeting with my academic advisor afterwards where I described to him the talk I attended by some group presenting what they called The Red Takeover. This was the Republican Party’s plan to takeover American politics by filling in every non partisan seat they could with party line favorites. It didn’t even matter if the people were qualified or had experience in government or public policy; all that mattered was that they were allegiant to the party and its ideologies, at all costs. My advisor’s face filled with horror as we talked about this, and – as idealistic as every other college student – I giggled and said “but that’ll never happen.” 

At the retirement community’s candidate’s event – the one where the moderator was an ardent supporter of my opponent – one question came up about what our political affiliations were. A non partisan seat in name only, it was still well known that he and I had both taken Party endorsements, and yet he had claimed on his campaign signs to be Independent, so someone was trying to draw out of him the truth. In his answer, he admitted his allegiance to the right-wing faction of the GOP, and then went on in a whisper of a voice, leaning in to the microphone, about how the thing to remember about me – me, remember he was campaigning on not being me, rather than his own merits – was that the Democrats had an insidious plot to install puppets in non partisan seats all over the country. Projecting as many good Republicans do, he slithered this accusation into the microphone, while I realized that he was also probably right. Not that I was some Blue puppet going to takeover the council with the Democrats’ agenda. But the plot he described was quite clearly real overall. It was over 15 years ago that I saw that presentation at the California Democratic Party’s convention, and the truth was that I had left halfway through it. I didn’t even stay to hear the part I should have stayed to hear: that the Democrats were planning to align their strategy with the Republican’s, to fight fire with fire. They both planned to do it, and today it appears that they’ve been successful.

This, surely, is how in my own city we could have a nurse sitting on the city council, in the middle of a pandemic, doing absolutely nothing for public health and nurses. When the nurse’s union approached me about an endorsement, it was mainly to air grievances about how they did not feel protected while working in our community when a secondcity council member (my opponent) sits or sat on the board of the local healthcare district. After the election, this clear preference to party politics and staying in office superseded what was right – with the pandemic, as well as a host of other measures that came before the city council that would impact the quality of life, health, and safety of our residents. With all of them, and not just in this city council. Once it became so evident to me that all of our non-partisan seats were simply puppets installed with wads of cash and a familiar name, it was easy to identify just who landed on which side, and why so much had gone wrong.

This isn’t to say that there’s anything particularly wrong with people choosing a side – so to speak – and then running for office. It’s what I did. But they have to be allowed to deviate from the Party on certain issues, and there still has to be some core aspect of them that is fundamentally qualified to lead independently. This, I feel, is like antibiotics to an infection that left otherwise alone would become deadly. 

Instead of this though, what has happened, is that Party leaders have taken up the practice of handpicking who will run; they groom their candidates. This happens in big Party leadership – where the Party decides and elevates high profile figures to run for big ticket offices. And it happens, probably more prevalently and dangerously, in local political party-affiliated groups. People in my community have handpicked and installed – either by genuine and well funded elections, or by appointment after someone retires mid-term or dies – a handful of puppets to take seats they are otherwise not qualified for. 

This has only been made worse with the rise of influence of social media, and culture wars stoked by both Parties meant to politicize otherwise non-politically divisive issues. Examples of this would be masks in schools and what textbooks are used to teach middle schoolers sex education or history. Critical Race Theory, Black lives matter, and the concept of systemic racism. False flag and rallying around a cause have always been used as political rhetorical devices, but thanks to class Party politics and growing divisions, stoking the flames of these cultural divisions only stands to make it all the more easy for political parties to hijack these hot button issues to win non partisan elections. Even though none of them truly believe in any of it. 

How this relates to a real crisis – be it the pandemic, or something more long term like homelessness – is that then you have these bodies in place of leaders that are simply ill-equipped to handle what’s been put before them. 

These people, these political drones that run on slogans and pep rallies, are so tuned in to suiting only the interests of their donors and their ideologies, that this is how they approach a crisis that affects everyone. With the pandemic, we saw it on the local county and city level with small businesses. Small businesses make up such a large percentage of campaign contributors in my community that this became the default beneficiary of CAREs funding when it was time to doll that out. In a public health crisis, public health was a mere afterthought; county supervisors were mostly concerned with when weddings would again be allowed, and how soon the malls could be back to full capacity. FEMA-funded programs, like meals for seniors and free hotels for COVID positive isolations, quickly were shut down the first chance they could as well, because while seniors were still hungry and people in multigenerational households still had a hard time isolating from vulnerable family members, the interests of restaurant and hotel owners came first. As things began to open up, community leaders branded those that still stayed home as selfish and hurting small business. This is how far afield we’ve gone in our thinking: that as community members, if we don’t support their donors, as we support them, we are in the wrong. 

Moreover, it’s become even more evident over the years that on some level, many of the people both in elected and appointed office don’t even believe in the principles on which America was founded. 

The GOP so clearly does not believe in representative democracy; while the Democrats have stopped pandering to the idea that there is such a thing as a social contract. Now in office for over a year, some interviews of White House staff and advisors include comments from these people outright saying as such. And in local Democratic groups and more Conservative organizations just the same? Talk to any of them and they don’t even know what a social contract is. If the two political parties do not even believe on some level in the government they are elected to run, what – really – is left? When we entrust them with our lives, as the social contract dictates, and they in turn do not even attempt to keep up their end of the bargain, we know that America’s disease has raged so far beyond a point, it may not be possible to bring it back from the brink. 

Perhaps the evidence of just how deadly our infection in American politics truly is can be found in the politicization of the pandemic response. When I say this though I don’t mean things like “masks are for Democrats,” or “Republicans are antivaxxers.” Beyond the fact that statistically speaking, neither of those is an entirely true statement, rather the issue of each is nuanced and rooted in a variety of issues (some political, while others socio-economic and racial), those are not the real sentiments that have politicized the pandemic. 

It’s been in how decisions at all levels of government have been made.

At some point, it became evident that pandemic policy was going to be dictated not by what was right or wrong, but how people would react. This alone is the very definition of politicization. Mask policies were not a blue state or red state thing, rather an issue of whether or not polls came back stating people would wear them or thought they were useful. Critical voter blocks were polled, rather than scientists and doctors. Mandates for vaccines or vaccine verification were made, or not made, on Party line philosophies, as well – not on the truly empirical evidence that showed the efficacy of vaccines (the shots, not the mandates). 

My problem as a candidate, and an organizer and advocate since, is that I have failed to jump in on that Party line. In return, I’m accused of being everything: a socialist, a communist, a radical, an idiot, an anti-vaxxer, a conspirator, a Trump apologist, a CCP agent, a demon sent from hell to inject people with COVID vaccine. Everything. My status as just as much not a puppet for the Democratic Party as not a puppet for the GOP became clear to many of them when, quite some time after the election, I criticized a decision of Joe Biden’s on Twitter. Suddenly I was seen as a liability to the Democrats, too “progressive” in my thinking. Some thought it was a sign I was a Republican plant (I can assure you all, I am not that interesting). It really doesn’t matter in the end who I was with, though; the point was that I was not blindly allegiant to any of them, which we see now – on both sides – gets you kicked out. And this is the real crux of the argument: the Democrats and the Republicans are just one club of infected political ideologues. Blue MAGA, Red MAGA – both are fundamentally MAGA.

And as Carlin says: “it’s a big club, and you ain’t in it.”

The truth is, I advocate for what I think is right. I really, and truly, believe simply in improving our material conditions and quality of life. I really, and truly, believe this can be done from the standpoint of public health. At the end of the day, almost all things can lead you down that road. Typically, I can argue for this from the perspective of facts and reason; unfortunately, though, those are two things that come as a threat to those unable to easily use them when those very things confront the sycophantic drones of either Party. 

When I was running for city council, early on, another candidate who was deep into the local Democratic Party contacted me to lecture me about FEC laws and my campaign materials. In it she offered to bring another Dem Party “insider” to help me out. Having worked on so many campaigns in my life, as well as for the labor unions, I knew how it all worked already. Should I have been insulted that she didn’t know this? Maybe, but then I didn’t have time to be offended. The truth is, I barely had the time to run the campaign, let alone do that and play extraneous personality politics. I thanked her and politely mentioned that I was aware so wouldn’t need the help. Perhaps that was my mistake; but with the little time I had to run my city council campaign, I didn’t prioritize humoring local political party “insiders” (if you can call them that) on my schedule. 

I rarely heard from any of the local Democrats again after that. So I stopped worrying much about what they thought, stayed true to myself, and in turn got into a lot of trouble with the locals. 

When a local mom blogger, who is in local politics insofar as she’s on committees but is too narcissistic and unhinged for me to pay much attention to, was drunk-posting on Facebook about another mom not tipping enough to her Instacart driver, I commented “maybe she simply didn’t have the money but still needed the service? Could she be COVID positive?” This became her rallying cry to consider me the loose cannon that other Democrats had “warned” her about. She’s had a target on my back since.

But those were more personality politics than they were policy politics. Of course on those I got into trouble too.

When locals that had called on the community to stay home, social distance, and do the right thing all along, were suddenly having parties, going to work sick, and bragging about going into stores mask-less because they had been vaccinated, while children out in the community still were not, I called them out and asked them to please hold the line to protect kids. 

Another rallying cry.

I wrote our city council, asking them why they broke from the state’s mask guidance, making masks optional even as children in our community were being hospitalized from COVID. Later, I wrote them again, begging them to have mobile vaccination clinics at community events. When they didn’t respond to either, I called them out in the local paper.

Another rallying cry.

When Democrats and Republicans alike started to back further into their corners, openly suggesting retaliation towards their political opponents on school boards and neighborhood councils (one even suggesting that a school board member be evicted from her home so she could no longer represent the district, something that has since initially writing this happened to me and my family), I spoke up. 

Another rallying cry. 

Ultimately, I’m just a mom. I write. I post on my blog. I take graduate courses. I advocate for others. I spend a lot of time talking to people that are in the community that want better material conditions. And I spend the bulk of my days just being with my kids. 

On the campaign, and every day since, I have come into contact with so many people just like me. Many volunteered for my campaign, many have continued to contact me to this day. Just average people sick of the disease that is running our community; sick of the infection that runs unabated in city hall and beyond.  

The infection was initially mild. It was a wild plot to takeover America, but that nobody ever thought would happen. It was some infighting in just one, toxic Congressional district. It was one, unqualified Party favorite council member, on a board of otherwise entirely qualified and impartial individuals.  

Today it is all of them. It is all of them, and they are in control of everything. 

As time goes on since my failed bid for city council, I’ve become more worried about both my community, and America on the whole. It would be one thing if this was just isolated. But quite clearly, it is not. Politics has always been cutthroat and nasty, always in the state of nature; but never has it been so toxic that the host body joins the mild infection in destroying everything in its path – friend or foe.

The solution, of course, is that we inject the body politic with massive amounts of medication – antibiotics, steroids, anti-inflammatories; the works. 

We reform elections so that money becomes less of a driving factor, so that lobbyists cannot control so much of our public policy. Who reforms elections is as important as the reforms themselves, though; reform must be done by the voters. Not the mom bloggers, committee members, and each board or council doing it their own way, but the voters. All of them. Universally. 

We take limits a step further than number of terms, and apply them to election spending. We publish campaign contributions for each candidate in the election pamphlets that come with the ballots. Because who you elect is never just the personality you click at the polls, it’s everyone that donated to their campaign too.

We hold leaders accountable for their failings. We have more oversight. In a municipal government, we allow voters to take part in appointments and have hiring hearings that the public can view. In higher levels of government, like Congress and the Presidency, we do the same, only more so. 

Perhaps the boldest move would be that we institute ranked choice voting. Ranked choice voting, combined with very systemic election reform created by voters (not politicians) would go far to break up the two party system, and level the playing field so that more qualified candidates may come to the surface. 

Because let’s be honest: both the Democrats and Republicans are equally, in their own ways, the source of the infection to begin with. And representative government does not work if the representatives see who they represent by how much money they’ve donated, or don’t believe in the government they’ve taken an oath to uphold.

Doing this, and more, would go far in changing America. In curing the infection, and in restoring us to a place that can do the work of representing people on every level, these reforms must be had to restore integrity. As high as the Presidency, and as low as a sanitation board, if we do not stop this infestation from plaguing us, it’s hard to see how we will come out the other side of it.  

Remember that we can always go back from whence we came. The infection was initially mild. It may never be completely gone, but it can be controlled to be mild again.

Thank you for tuning in to my 5 part series on running for city council in my small town So Cal community. If you feel so inclined, please click the link to PAY WHAT IT’S WORTH. This is so much better of a way to sell my books than to go through the process of publishing them; and it allows me to offer my writing for free to those that haven’t the means.

Part 3: The Subterranean Termites Come To the Service

Welcome to the third part of my 5 Part Series: The Infection Was Initially Mild: My Small Town City Council Run, the Toxic American Pandemic Response, and What Both Mean For the Future Of the Country. 

You can also read the entire series now, download it in entirety in PDF format, catch the disclaimers in the Introduction, listen to it on Text to Speech (I have to warn you it’s a little awkward), or watch the Text to Speech on YouTube.

Also, more resources, videos, updates, and Pay What It’s Worth links can be found there too!

CLICK HERE for The Infection Was Initially Mild Landing Page

Every fall or early winter, late in the year, it begins to cool in Southern California, and eventually it rains. Most years it’s been so dry that even the slightest bit of rain becomes an epic event. What I always notice about the first “big” rain (sometimes it is no more than a spit, and that’s all we get for the season) is that immediately after, the subterranean termites come out in a swarm.

Subterranean termites are these little termites that are white and translucent. They don’t do damage like the termites that rot your attic; but they are annoying nevertheless. What I always notice is that there are just so many of them. One day you’ll be enjoying the first rain of the season, and the next you can’t even look outside without seeing clouds of them in swarms, just flying around. 

Flying for the sake of flying. Existing for the sake of existing.

One year, so many of them came up from underground that they also died in droves. They got stuck in window sills, smashed over the front of my black SUV so that it looked grayish white from a distance, and the ground was covered in their translucent wings so you heard a crunch and a squish, turning the wings into a translucent goo stuck on the bottom of your shoes. It was a sight of horror, one forgotten as quickly as they resurface until the next first rain of the season.

People in politics, in every fashion, are like those subterranean termites. They come out only at certain moments of the year. They fly around in swarms, and infest every open space they can. Leaving behind trails of translucent, gooey wings, and the scent of infestation, politicos (from politicians and electeds, to commentators, bloggers, and volunteers) are like annoying gnats on the ass of America. Few have any redeeming qualities, and they appear to exist for no reason but for the sake of themselves. 

Flying for the sake of flying. Existing for the sake of existing. The subterranean termites come to the surface. 

The city council in my city is perhaps synonymous with any other governing body in America: they are clueless, do very little, and understand even less. 

Our city council is pretty typically made up of any handful of your garden variety locals. There is usually at least one self-professed businessman, whose business is a bit nebulous and sounds more like a Ponzi scheme. A lawyer is always smattered in there somewhere, since lawyers notoriously possess the cut-throated narcissism required to be a politician, and because voters tend to assume that someone who knows how to manipulate the law will also be good at running the city. 

Our city has a hard on for small business, as many cities do; so there are two businessmen and one businesswoman on our council presently. The men are like pieces of Wonderbread, sort of blending into the chamber walls with their weak-willed comments, and hangers-on status. One was up for re-election the same year that I ran, only in a different district, and he acted surprised when my daughter gave him a Halloween treat bag at the Farmer’s Market. “Even for an opponent?” – he asked, to which she had to remind him that he wasn’t even in the same district as me. The other, he seems harmless (and I don’t mean that in a good way). The woman – whom my youngest called “Grandma” whenever he saw her on the screen during a meeting – has been there since the 80s. She’s taken turns being mayor just shy of 10 times (8, to be precise); and, as with the men, most of us remain unclear what business she’s actually in besides grifting the taxpayer dollar. 

There are also the occasional politicos that come and go on the council. These are the people that parrot party lines, like “Black lives matter,” and “Vote Blue no matter who.” Of course neither of those phrases – in the typical election year – would even remotely be tolerated in this community; and yet somehow, some way, one of them managed to get on the council. She’s up for re-election this year, and if I’m reading the pulse of the city right now, she will be a one hit wonder in terms on the dais. The shocking part about her is that in a pandemic, as a nurse, I cannot think or find evidence of a single thing she’s actually done for the public health aspect of it. Even today, into the third year of this collective nightmare we are all living through, I watched recently a video of a council meeting in which she was wearing a loose-fitting, inappropriately layered, mask at the meeting. A nurse. A person who is supposed to know things like ‘how to wear a mask,’ and ‘what type of a mask to wear.’ Someone who was touted as exactly who we wanted to be there during the pandemic, she effectively did nothing for public health education, vaccination or testing efforts, and everything in between. 

I believe – and this is just my own personal belief – that this comes more from the cronyism that is pervasive to our community, and as it turns out in the bigger political picture. Hand picked successors are everywhere. When a council member either terms out or retires, there is always someone that has a familiar name and face that’s been waiting in the wings to pick up the position. This can be done traditionally, with an actual vote of the people (that comes from hefty funding and a lot of local name recognition); or – more often – when someone leaves in the middle of the term, and the council or board or whatever convinces the public that it is more financially responsible to shun the voices of voters, and let the all-knowing remaining electeds select their new colleague.  

My community has no shortage of either. Decades ago, one of the area’s Congressmen died suddenly and tragically, and in the special election his wife ran for and won the seat. The funny part of that was that when you polled most of the voters in the district, they were both unaware it was her (and not the dead husband), and didn’t even have a grip on when regular elections were supposed to be held, and just voted when told to. 

On the more local level, we had a county supervisor on the board for decades, before the county finally gave in to the will of the voters and instituted term limits; and someone totally and completely ideologically opposed – though sharing the last name – got enough money from local oil and natural gas companies to plaster enough name recognition pieces around the community that she was elected in a landslide. This county representative – now on a re-election – has no more than bananas for brains, and will blow whichever way her biggest donors sway her (I can only assume the air between her ears helps with the flight). Often she harms the community with her total cluelessness, and subsequent harmful (at times dangerous) policies. 

Most people in the community, though, still think they’re voting for the last lady.

On the flip side are the institutional cronies that are in just enough local groups, and have been around the political scene long enough, to simply step onto the stage the moment an opportunity presents itself for them to do so. Often times, it is so glaring when it happens you can’t help but be insulted that these people, this pack of cronies deciding everything from what roads are repaved, to which books our children in the public schools learn from, think we are both blind and dumb. 

Perhaps, since we go along with it, we are.

In the last couple of years, the real offenders were the ones who knew they wouldn’t serve their term. One school board member had already contracted a move, but notified the public only after she was re-elected. This allowed the school board to handpick her successor, again after reminding the public that this was the fiscally responsible thing to do. Nothing gets your average community member like the idea that their tax dollars are being wasted, even if it comes at the expense of the authoritarianism. Make no mistake about it – handpicking successors is exactly that. 

Another school board member in recent years died of a terminal cancer she knew she had and kept secret through her re-election; again she was replaced by installment. Two city council members that same year met the same exalted status locally, when seats opened only after other council members won higher office. 

Of course we could have municipal laws that prohibit a candidate from running for office while holding another that would require them to resign, leaving the path open for this kind of malfeasance at schools boards and city halls all over the country. This would at least eliminate some. We could also end the ability for installment, and require special elections under all circumstances. But this brand of local authoritarianism is kind of what the whole game is about: making sure that only the people in office can decide who else is there with them. 

All the Parts in the Machine

What makes all of this possible – at every level (water board, city council, county supervisor, state legislature, Congress, and so on) are the insiders. Paradoxically, this is a group of people that believe they are inside and influencing decisions, when the reality is they exert about as much weight as that of their pinkie fingers. Not much. 

Sure, political influencers and some employees play a part, and can make or break a candidate or an elected official with their own actions or part in the dance. Like the city clerk who handles the elections – she could simply not return the phone call of a candidate until the time has passed for the candidate to file, and that’s about that. In the year of my own election, a man that ran for mayor in a neighboring city became victim of the malicious incompetence of the county clerk, who just happened to “accidentally” leave the man’s name and candidate information out of the election handbook mailed to all voters. 

Beyond all these tertiary elected and appointed subterranean termites, there is also the mega-bureaucracy at the city and county levels, who portray and highlight those elected to office with their own particular brand of incompetence. If I am constantly having a problem dealing with the people in the property tax office at the county, it’s unlikely I will continue to vote for the incumbent on the county supervisorial board that is supposedly meant to oversee these clowns. Right? The same could go for almost any department the average citizen encounters, or so you would think. 

Except when everyone is incompetent, including their replacements, what else can we come to expect over the years? Now, in 21st century suburban America, this standard of incompetence is matched only by the amount of gaslighting done in the public view. Community members accept this low standard of public service thanks to messaging and social media posts that have glossed over an otherwise abysmal electoral track record. 

This was especially highlighted in the pandemic, when the inner-workings of the local government showed itself to the public to be inefficient, idiotic, and – in this case – deadly. But at the same time, they messaged the hell out of the story with social media posts and pretty pictures, and now the collective perception of how things have been handled is divided between those that watched from the protection of their homes and Internet, and those that suffered the greatest hardships. 

Even our public health is made up of installed puppets, bureaucratic cronies with interests beyond their scope and practice. In the earliest days, our county took the strategy of protecting businesses at all costs. Those costs were, naturally, human lives – mostly of the elderly, low wage workers, illegal immigrants and guest workers, and members of multigenerational, low income homes. Still, the vast majority of CAREs funding the county received went to business grants, and to cities which then distributed further business grants. Very little went to public health (beyond testing, which they rapidly phased out the first chance they could). To make matters worse, the public health professionals made recommendations and guidance at the pace of snails, not wanting to hurt small business through this difficult time. As community member fatalities began to stack up, our public health director ignored the call by the public to publish what businesses had experienced employee outbreaks as well. They do it for other public health violations, but an outbreak of COVID among employees was seen to them as too politically controversial, and would harm local business. The list of these, and other, transgressions over the years of the pandemic has stacked up, rivaled only by the list of people that have died of the disease and their gross negligence. But again, the messaging is at peak gaslit, and the public has been profoundly removed from the gross negligence that has gone on. 

This raises a very serious issue in American politics: what the general public doesn’t always seem to realize when they vote is that they aren’t just voting for the person or identity of the candidate, themselves, but for everyone they bring with them. 

This extends beyond just who they install when a seat on their own council opens. With the president, it’s judges and administration officials. With counties, it’s everyone running the show – from your jails to your elections to your child support services. In cities, it’s the manager and the city planner. You have to ask yourself, in a city like mine, why the council hasn’t been able to find residents of our actual city to hire as city managers and planners; or why when a once in a lifetime pandemic hits, there’s no one of all the people working at city hall capable of being moved into a position to better coordinate a more well-rounded local response to save lives.

All of these people are a part of the same whole: flying for the sake of flying. Existing for the sake of existing. In essence, accomplishing and contributing very little to society as a whole.

Finally, you have all the rest of the swarm that can be seen everywhere. Like the subterranean termites, they gaggle into groups, serving only themselves.

They are the local media, who cow tow to local elected officials because it is local governments that fund their struggling newspapers. 

They are the special interest groups, that average people believe only exist in the highest levels of government, when in reality they exist at all levels and are most insidious in their influence at the bottom. 

They are the two bit activist groups, who have some nebulous and general cause that is used as an excuse to get together, drink wine, and gossip. 

One of our city council members has a somewhat influential mother in one of these groups. A gaggle of old women and one, gay man, they get together multiple times per week to gossip about everything going on in the world that pisses them off, write checks to personalities they like, and get sauced on a local Chardonnay in the process. On one occasion they invited me and the other woman running in the city (in the other district) – a pink-haired Democratic activist that talked down to me, and routinely interrupted to ramble into oblivion on topics no one could understand. The event was 80% her talking, 19% the group complaining about Trump, and I was given about 2 minutes to state my name.   

Most malignant are the local political groups, whom are usually more cliquish than they are substantive in their activism. Like a cancerous sore on the body politic locally, these groups in my community are why the leaders of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Caucus (also known as the D-Triple-C) once told me at a union junket in Sacramento that because of the toxicity that is pervasive to these local political groups in this district, the caucus typically considered it a political black hole. 

Especially in my own experience, with the Democratic groups, they are the grassroots embodiment of the party at large: overpromising and underdelivering. For our own election, the local Democrats sent emails upon emails to candidates promising volunteers, phone banking, mailers, and the like. In the end, we got a couple hundred text messages sent, and a stack of door hangers with a long list of names on it (mine was towards the bottom). No manpower to distribute them except the Young Democrats who gave us a few hours one Saturday. And, of course, that couple hundred bucks from just one of their many groups. 

Of course with social media, the groups expanded into things like political mom groups, and everything that comes with them. If Facebook Mom Groups are the state of nature, my own experience with them has been quite Hobbesian: nasty, brutish, and short. The political moms groups of course divide into the ideological camps, and I managed to piss off both of them. 

For the conservative moms of the community, it was quite obvious. Most of them believed I had that conspiratorial “agenda,” of which they themselves could not even articulate. On social media they would claim they saw me being “nasty” to fellow moms, and contemptuous of our community members. None of this was true, and when asked for the proof they could not produce it. That started the next conspiracy, that I had spent years of my life gleaning my presence on the Internet, something any mom of three knows I have absolutely no time for. A lot of them were hyper-religious and took offense to my positions on public health as well (it remains to be seen how wearing a mask has anything to do with Jesus).  

Naturally, the defund the police rumor, was at the front of their sentiment against me. In the end there was going to be no winning them over for this reason. True or not, they had heard too much. 

The Democratic moms, though – them I did not see coming. Considering myself a very issue-based voter, organizer, and politician (if I even called myself the latter), there are a lot of things that I wasn’t particularly in agreement on with the Democrats. Perhaps that was a part of the problem, but if I understand it more clearly now, it was my own identity and demeanor that was a problem to some of them. For some in particular, that I ran in the first place.

I’m not an insider to them. For over a decade, I didn’t go to local Party events, I didn’t attend the rallies or the fundraisers or the Democratic Labor Day picnics. I stopped being on the inside of all of those things years ago, so to resurface today was jarring, I can only assume, to many of them. Especially when so many were new.

I probably didn’t help myself with occasional gaffes stating the obvious. Comments like “it’s so nice to see new faces!” are not welcome by people that consider themselves establishment figures in that particular community (whether it’s rooted in reality, or not). 

I also didn’t tone down speaking up about things I saw that I believed were wrong. When the Democratic moms Facebook group decided to host an online candidate meet and greet for a man running for the community college district school board, and a mom running herself asked to be given the courtesy of the same opportunity, she was ignored. I spoke up. 

When they defended people going out and breaking their COVID quarantine, including – many of them including many elected officials that should have been setting an example, I spoke up. 

When they left several endorsed candidates off their list of locals that had been endorsed by the Democratic Party, I spoke up. 

When my kids were followed around at the public park by supporters of my opponent, and filled cups from McDonald’s were thrown at my front door, and one of the organizers of the group said we should all forgive my opponent for staying silent on this issue “because he’s a nice man,” I spoke up.

Later, I learned, that the speaking up, and running for city council to begin with, was what I did wrong in that group. In reality, it was what I did wrong in front of all of them. It made the community (the moms, the conservatives, the cogs in the bureaucracy machine) feel threatened. It was where Blue MAGA and Red MAGA found a common enemy.

Me. 

My Opponent the Toad

My opponent was as bland as water, and as in-actionable as a toad. 

Remember the old story about the two toads on a log? There are two toads on a log and one decides to jump. How many toads are still on the log? Two. Toads think about doing things, but rarely have the energy, drive, or will to actually do them. This sums up my opponent, and everyone that surrounded him for that matter, in a nutshell. 

To make matters worse, he looked like one too. 

Being fair, I only met him in person on one occasion. It was at a carefully curated debate-style event for the senior community in our district. I call it “carefully curated” because it was crafted so as to protect him as much as possible. At the time, I had no idea I was walking into a room full of his supporters running the event; finding out later only after reading over his campaign contribution list, and recognizing all of their names. And to be clear: this was a cohort of toads, obsequious to their leader, and mostly condescending towards me. 

The queen toad – his wife – accompanied him and upon walking in, she talked to me like I was one of her gal pals at Bunko. “Oh, you’ll get used to these events,” was the first thing she belched at me, while clutching her handbag and evidencing for me that she clearly had not read my bio, nor had even the slightest inkling that I – a young woman in her late 30s – could have possibly been to any of these events before in her life (I’ve been to plenty).  

The moderator. The cameraman. The producer. All toads, all with that same leathery and blotchy, reptilian skin; at least a few with a bullfrog’s neck goiter. 

Through out the entire campaign, this toad man – the token lawyer on the city council – painted me not just as a radical liberal, but as an idiot. In certain crowds on Zoom events and candidate forums, he would answer questions by first stating that I didn’t know what I was talking about – this was why he should be re-elected. When he wasn’t running on this, he was doing so on his totally unfounded defund the police claims. He never actually campaigned on what he would do with four more years. He simply highlighted that he wasn’t me. (And it worked.)

Of course if he had highlighted what he had done with four years in office, he would have had nothing to talk about. Besides contributing to hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer waste by getting the city sued several times, this supposed-lawyer didn’t have much else to account for. The material conditions of residents were no better (arguably worse), the city was bleeding jobs even before the pandemic as well. I can’t blame this toad of a man for making me his solo talking point. If I were as much of a lame duck, I would have done the same. 

Of course I always managed to overcome his incessant and condescending bullfrog noises – his gurgles and belches, that said less in substance than I even thought was possible of someone speaking words as fully formed sentences. After all his man-spraining and treating everyone like a village of idiots, I kept my cool, stated facts, and always ended events with more supporters than I came in with. Yet either a fault of the pandemic, or more just the way things are in local politics, the general public was by and large not present for these candidate forums and face-to-face  (or Zoom-to-Zoom) events. There were 10, maybe 20, at each. Add all the candidates from the combined events, and you had an online total of maybe 40. Not enough to sway the vote, because in the end what it came down to was who had the most money. 

This was when I simply got outspent.

Part Two: An Agenda

Welcome to the second part of my 5 Part Series: The Infection Was Initially Mild: My Small Town City Council Run, the Toxic American Pandemic Response, and What Both Mean For the Future Of the Country. 

You can also read the entire series now, download it in entirety in PDF format, catch the disclaimers in the Introduction, listen to it on Text to Speech (I have to warn you it’s a little awkward), or watch the Text to Speech on YouTube.

Also, more resources, videos, updates, and Pay What It’s Worth links can be found there too!

CLICK HERE for The Infection Was Initially Mild Landing Page

To say that I didn’t have an agenda of any kind going into the city council run would be a lie. But then, everyone that runs for public office has – or, at least should have – one. What are you being voted in for if not to do things? This was the first completely nonsensical turn the campaign took: when people accused me of having an agenda, as if this was a bad thing.

“She has an agenda” became the local QAnon turn of phrase that was code for “bad lady, we shouldn’t vote for her.” I’m not sure to what extent all of the pizza-sex-dungeon-Democrats-are-spawn-of-Satan stuff has permeated the local QAnon folks, but with roughly 30% of the community involved (in some fashion and consistent with the national participation rate), I imagine at least a few of them legitimately believed my agenda was to inject the community with the blood of aborted babies. Or something like that. 

My agenda was simple: I saw a city council that was doing absolutely nothing to support our community in an unprecedented time. Most notably, the pandemic had shuttered businesses, and infected and killed community members. And, front line workers like nurses and lower wage workers were approaching me and begging for help with their working conditions in our city. Our city council was largely silent on the matters – all of them. Except, of course, throwing pittance small business grants at local businesses which – in the end – took so long to get out, many businesses that originally applied had closed by the time the couple thousand bucks were distributed. This endeavor also cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars in general funds just to put together (not counting the money for the grants, themselves). To say the pandemic response from the city council, and entire city, was a failure would be a gross understatement. 

And the problem is that – as of writing this – we just keep failing more. 

The average job in our city pays $15-$18 per hour, while the cost of living is $38 per hour for a two bedroom apartment. My agenda in reality, was in everyone’s best interest: it was rooted in fiscal responsibility coupled with a focus on public health. I wanted our community to become a Blue Zone – one where every design and planning decision was made with health in mind. Blue Zone planning is rooted in public health and policy facts, and results in an overall increased quality of life and longevity – for everyone. This meant more biking, less sprawl, more housing options, reduced cost of living, and raising the standard of living and employment in the community. On the surface, our city looks somewhat affluent: median housing price is around $750K, but more than 90% of residents have to commute 15 minutes or more out of the city to be able to afford it. What we don’t talk about is that just over 7% of people in the city live below the poverty line – some within a mile of my district and its houses that start at $3M. My support base was largely in, and just above, that 7%, not necessarily in the people I was asking for for votes.

Moreover, I wanted the city to stop bleeding money. My opponent and his colleagues’ incompetence over the years have cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in lawsuits, mistakes, excessive administrative fees for their friends, and bungled CYA PR campaigns.  

Managing the pandemic and its recovery from a more holistic and proactive approach was what my campaign focused on; and creating a safety net for our healthcare and front line workers, even the ones that only worked here. Fundamentally, I had zero plans to stay in office for the long term. I wanted to win the election, do my part to manage COVID on the most local level, make some other health, safety, organizational, and quality of life changes along the way, and – likely – stick to one term, and done. 

Because the city’s elections are in districts, I was stuck in the most affluent district, while coming from – generally speaking – just your average middle class. To win my district, I would have only need 4,800 votes plus 1 – a feat I only was able to obtain 39% of (earning only 22% of all ballots cast). In the end I failed to turn out votes that would have brought me closer to a win in the election. 

When you look at the votes I did end up gathering, they were largely centered not even in my own neighborhood, but in the single, lower-income neighborhood in the district; the only one with rentals accepting Section 8 housing vouchers, where the vast majority of people I spoke to were so busy risking their lives working multiple, low-wage, public-facing jobs, that many would not have even voted had it not been for the ability to vote by mail. A renter myself, though in the single family homes more aligned with the median housing in the city at large, I still understood the struggles many in the community faced. These were the community members that needed someone who would actually take action. 

Being on the city council is a part time job, for everyone that’s on it. To me, I saw mismanagement and a lack of responding to the needs of the constituents by my opponent. My own experience in politics, political science, public policy, community organizing, and in public facing jobs, especially healthcare (pharmacy) management, was (in my mind) exactly what the city needed to do better than we had since the pandemic hit. 

And to my credit, it was my ideas and experience – my agenda – that earned me more  endorsements than any of our city’s council candidates in recent years. Accordingly to my agenda, I sought endorsements from every organization that I believed shared my mission in improved health and quality of life. I didn’t waste my time with anyone whose mission did not align with mine; not out for just every endorsement I could grab, I went for the ones that had value to me. 

The local chapter of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund were the first to announce their endorsement of my campaign, with the nurse’s union representing our city hospital coming closely after. While Planned Parenthood endorses many, if not most, women (in addition to many pro-choice men), I was the only candidate in a down ballot election in my entire county to receive the endorsement of the nurses. At our only in person debate, for a neighborhood of roughly 4,000 seniors, I asked my opponent why after 4 years of him being on the city council, and even longer on the board of the local healthcare district, the nurses – in the middle of a pandemic – chose to endorse me. He had no answer. 

As it turned out, nurses and healthcare workers in general made up the bulk of my support – endorsed, financed, and otherwise. Of the 280 individuals that endorsed the campaign by its completion, 67% were nurses, doctors, pharmacists, or other healthcare workers. Another 23% came from public safety, specifically the Neighborhood Watch Group I founded in 2015. 

Likely a result of my background in public health and safety, and my strong position on COVID and worker safety, the nurse’s union’s endorsement then led to the endorsement from the local Carpenter’s Council, the union that advocated for workplace safety. Shortly after them, the local chapter of Yes In My Backyard (YIMBY) housing advocacy group gave me the thumbs up. The final big group that aligned my mission closely was the women’s council in my community, which resulted in a sizable influx in funds for the campaign. 

Of course my last endorsement was the best: our Congresswoman endorsed my campaign in the final weeks before the election. And while people were noticeably stunned that I was able to garner the support, in my district it ended up alienating many voters who saw her as a liberal carpetbagger from Los Angeles (they weren’t, at least entirely, wrong). 

In life and politics, endorsements of you as a person don’t always turn into results at the end of the game. Some of my endorsements (especially the ones closely aligned with the Democratic Party) were controversial to otherwise centrist voters. And, in the end, my own priorities were not consistent with the voters in my district, and also unable to overcome the slander and smear that my opponent waged so effectively against me. 

A sleepy, suburban, affluent bedroom community, with the majority of voters working and living their social lives largely out of town, didn’t particularly want change. They wanted another candidate that would sit on the council and simply pass through what was already passed through before. Keep quiet, don’t do too much. My opponent had already exhibited for 4 years that he would do little enough to not cause a ruckus, and just enough to keep people happy.

Though what came after my loss was the eventual worsening of the pandemic and health and safety of our community, many of them continue to appear largely unaffected (to the detriment of the rest of the city). 

As it turned out, since my loss, the mismanagement of health, housing, COVID, and everything in between, has been a complete disaster. Less than two years later, we have more than double the community members dead of the virus, and a paltry vaccination rate by zip code compared to other areas of California. We also have a moratorium now meant to stifle any building of newer, affordable, housing, which has resulted in both crime and homelessness rising exponentially since the election. The real kicker is that the moratorium is meant to stop the very type of housing my opponent spoke in favor of – both times he ran. 

When the CDC changed their masking guidance in May 2021, and the state of California aligned alongside it in June, our city took it a step further and made masks optional for everyone. Aghast, and in horror, I contacted everyone on the city council – one of whom claims to be a nurse – asking why? How? What justification could there be when the rules clearly stated *only the vaccinated* could remove their masks? Our city claims to be family friendly, and this would only increase disease spread and hurt our lower wage and front line healthcare workers. How could a nurse, and her colleagues, sign on to this?

No one ever responded.

As the Delta variant, and later Omicron, ripped through the community, they continued to ignore my calls, emails, and requests. I drove by city-sponsored events to see that no mobile vaccine clinic had been called to come from the county. I watched in horror as city after city shut down when Omicron hit, only for our city to insist on staying open, and to outright lie when they had outbreaks. (How many times does the senior center need to change the carpeting in a year’s time?)

It’s this type of do-nothing, ignore-everyone, attitude that is pervasive to the city council, and why I say that in spite of voter registration data or general presence of support, our community is – by and large – conservative. Conservative values are more than a party or an ideology, they are a way of life. You could have voted for Joe Biden or Hilary Clinton, but still clicked the ticker on every ideologically Republican-valued candidate down the line. And we’re lying to ourselves if we don’t admit the aforementioned aren’t pretty right of center politicians anyway. 

This is what voters in this district believe in, and are like. I realize that now. A progressive appearance slathered over a regressive and conservative reality; this is the community I was running for city council in, and exactly why my radical ideas of taking care of each other, and lifting the entire community into a higher quality of life, was a losing strategy. Many homes have those catchy signs on their yards that say In This House We Believe, while the people within them respond to an incident of outright racism at the high school with the old line “kids will be kids.” They vote for leaders that do anything but lead, deferring to council members that effectively show they’ll take a seat and button their mouths. That’ll do nothing and point the finger at the county or state or “personal responsibility” when it’s time to hold someone accountable for a major problem in the community, of which there are many. Those that came out to vote in my district in particular seems by and large perfectly content to bury their heads in the ground of their finely manicured lawns, ignoring the struggles of the other tens of thousands of residents that live in this city. So long as it doesn’t affect them, and they don’t have to hear about it. At the same time, you almost have to understand – at least in some sense – because with such a high cost of living, and the need to commute to afford living in the city, they’re fundamentally too busy to care.  Maybe that’s the point.

As it turns out, even the most progressive public health advocates at the beginning of the pandemic were more than excited to take off their masks in stores when little kids were around. When the Delta variant began to rip through our unvaccinated populations, and everyone realized that even the vaccinated could still transmit COVID to others – well after the election was over – middle aged suburban women, and men in Oakleys with big trucks and a clear compensatory tendency, proudly talked online about being the “only ones” in the stores that had taken off their masks just yet. That number of unmasked grew, as did COVID cases, and these people whose profile pictures were still of them getting their vaccine, wearing a shirt that said something like “I believe in science,” with the Biden-Harris logo still over-laid on the photo, coined the phrase “I did my part, if you’re unvaccinated that’s on you.” 

My city is like the apex where Blue MAGA and Red MAGA meet. Where every street is a mix of hard to the right voters that still have their Trump and “Let’s Go Brandon” flags up in their lawns, and soft to the right Democrats that voted for Biden but still watch Fox News and worship at the alter of First Responder culture.  And yet caught in the middle of it all, holding the entire community up and making it run, are the working class, swelling our low paying jobs and privileged attitudes with a smile, while working so many jobs just to put food on the table and pay rent they don’t have the time to vote, let alone do anything else. 

And this is how my opponent, a hard right Republican, masterfully manipulated the public into thinking I was some cop-hating liberal that would take their guns and bastardize the community. While I was talking about the pandemic and masks over Zoom, this guy was going door to door telling people I wanted to defund the police and soon thereafter turn our city into one where people were shackled by socialism, forced to wear burlap sacks and live in a communal shanty while paying allegiance daily to a dark Stalin-esque overlord. While I did take the endorsement from the local Democrats, this plus a check for a couple hundred bucks and my name on a list of candidates they had endorsed, was the length of support I received from them. And I always made clear that their ‘defund the police’ jargon was a losing policy – in both politics, and practice.

In truth, my own political philosophy can be best described as nuanced. I don’t believe in defunding the police, but I do believe that Black lives matter. I’m not a fan of groups or clubs. And as I said, I stand by the working class and the struggles of others more with empathy and understanding and a commitment to public health and quality of life, above anything else. In many ways, I agree with the Democratic Party’s positions, but in many ways I also do not. Certainly, what I disagree with them on is the idea that an individual within the Party cannot have varied views on things; that everyone must fall in line, as if they cannot win elections without total and utter allegiance to the official talking points. 

Years ago, when I first graduated college, I worked for the Democratic Party, as well as on several campaigns (as local as water board and as national as Presidential primary).  Stupidly, I forgot just how much like their nemesis they truly are. Backbiting and embroiled in identity politics, the Democrats on the largest and equally smallest scales tend to shun anyone that is not completely in line with their philosophies. 

To be clear: this is just as authoritarian as the MAGA GOP. Where Blue MAGA meets Red MAGA. 

They aren’t even philosophies espoused in a political party, though, so much as they are a body of non-thinking ideologues. It’s no wonder they get into office and are unable to ever actually accomplish anything; to remain in with the in crowd they have to tow the party line, or face the consequences. Festering in the back of my mind for the entire campaign was the memory of the last job I did for the local Democrats, before going back to college and then graduate school, then moving on to be a private citizen – as a stay at home mom and writer. It was a pre-candidacy hit piece on a local Democrat, pulling up personal anecdotes of sketchy behavior, old cable bills, and basically anything I could get my hands on to convince this guy not to run for office in a primary against a more well-known, well-liked, candidate. All because he was not 100% in line withe the Party’s views. After spending weeks putting this piece together, I never called the committee back when they tried to contract me for another job. I couldn’t live with the idea that I was going to be a part of this type of underhanded, backbiting operation. 

So upon taking their support in my own campaign, I knew I would have to keep it at an arm’s length. More than anything, when old faces and familiar names began to crop up, I knew it was in my own best interest to remain somewhat neutral. At least with the locals. I wanted to impact change in my community, and do a service to the people.  This was my agenda. Not get sucked into petty Party politics and infighting.

COVID allowed me to largely get away with doing that, at least for a time. I was able to stay above the fray until just after the election.Of course this didn’t prevent me from losing.

And once the election had passed, all the toxic, nuclear waste bubbled to the surface anyway. What came only after I lost, I never could have foreseen. 

Remember That Time I Ran For City Council?

Welcome to the first part of my 5 Part Series: The Infection Was Initially Mild: My Small Town City Council Run, the Toxic American Pandemic Response, and What Both Mean For the Future Of the Country.

You can also read the entire series now, download it in entirety in PDF format, catch the disclaimers in the Introduction, listen to it on Text to Speech (I have to warn you it’s a little awkward), or watch the Text to Speech on YouTube.

Also, more resources, videos, updates, and Pay What It’s Worth links can be found there too!

The Infection Was Initially Mild Landing Page

Also, please don’t forget to enter the GIVEAWAY – free to enter, just like or share on one or multiple social media outlets. The winner will be drawn tomorrow February 2nd on Instagram LIVE!

I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I think to myself at least once a day: remember that time I ran for city council? I don’t think that way to myself often about many other things. But on the city council run, I do. 

This isn’t to say that I am in absence of thought about random things that happen in my life on a daily basis. It’s to say that when I think about it – the city council run, it comes across my mind like a surprise. Over a year later, and I still am in shock that I did such a thing. In fact, the further time gets from the election, itself, the more ephemeral it becomes. Like a passing daydream, or a nightmare that reoccured for a period, and was traumatic enough to remember but not significant enough to keep in the forefront of my mind. 

I – a stay at home mom of three kids, who writes part time, here and there; is in a graduate program in political philosophy, also part time; and, who is generally misanthropic and a little agoraphobic – ran for city council. Put myself in front of the entire city (in actuality, only one district) and asked for people to elect me  – me, of all people – to lead for four years.

It’s just such an overtly bizarre thing to think about because it was probably a bad idea. Had I been elected, I am certain I could have done a good job in fulfilling my campaign promises, and bringing order to a community that has become completely disordered through the course of the pandemic. The truth is, I’m still doing that now, for having just run. 

But I also would have had to button up my mouth, and play politics in a time when the last thing leaders should be doing is engaging politically. 

Me running for city council, in reality, was tantamount to the time I believed that I could design a village of chicks out of neon-colored deviled eggs. To make matters worse, I used bits of black olives and carrot shavings for the eyes and beaks, and positioned them upright in uncooked white beans; and in the middle of setting the whole thing up, decided I would use guacamole in the filling for half of them, and make little signs for them to hold on toothpicks that said “chick me!” I’m not sure just what I was thinking at the time, but it was surely rooted in some level of temporary insanity; and in the end, it looked, and felt, like vomit. 

Remember that time I ran for city council?

In 2020, I ran for city council in my small, wanna-be rural town. I say it’s “wanna-be rural” because the concept of the old days, flannel shirts and cowboy attire, and phrases like “all the fixins” are pervasive to our culture. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Backwoods rural communities and the middle of nowhere seems like a pleasant experience two years into a pandemic that has relied entirely on communities working together, when no one wants to do anything for anyone but themselves. The purpose of pointing to these qualities, though, is in highlighting some of the consequence, and the fact that it’s simply not true. Positioned just 50 miles north of Los Angeles, with a citywide population of just over 70,000 people, we are anything but rural. No, with an airport, growing community needs, and a Starbucks on every corner, we are urban-suburban sprawl. Still, many locals equate flannel shirts, backyard BBQs, and American flag-bedazzled Fords with a rural community; one where anyone can openly shout racial slurs at passers-by, and everyone knows everyone else. One where “it ain’t your business” is a community motto. Where community leaders are meant to handle miscellaneous things like missed trash pickups, and spray paint on signs in town; but ultimately the only other expectation is that they protect the townspeople from other governments (county, state, etc) reigning on their parade. Many of them long for the “good old days” that existed in other places of America, things that this community has never really seen.

At least 59% of people living in this city are living on generational wealth; this is to say they work blue collar jobs (or, in some cases, no job at all) and have homes entirely paid off decades ago. 76% live in homes owned by another entity (such as a private landlord or property management company). Approximately 30% are involved in conspiracy groups, mainly QAnon. Unsurprisingly, a good chunk of voters in my district – comprised of some of the wealthiest homes in the city, alongside those of less good fortune – do not want affordable housing, or people of color, living anywhere near them. 

Ag and 4H is big (nothing wrong with that); as is the county fair and country music (I suppose these both get a pass too). Military families from the nearby naval base make up a substantial portion of our city, and Patriotism is codified in the fabric of our community, so much so that when people hear a jet overhead, someone immediately posts in the town Facebook group for moms: ”that is the sound of freedom!” 

Religion is a big thing around here, with more churches than I can even count, and the average conversation with a neighbor always inevitably turns south when someone in the group randomly blurts out “isn’t God amazing?” Again, nothing wrong with religious groups, but in many circles it turns into a pass for unsavory and unethical behavior if you simply add some trite, colloquial religious phrase to the end of it. “Oh, Darrel shot off his brother’s big toe at the range the other day because he had one too many Coors? That’s too bad. Blessing be to the Lord our God it wasn’t his whole foot.”

On that note, perhaps the most notable thing about our community (at least in my view) is that the gun store is a hallmark of our So Cal town, so much so that there is regularly a line out the door, and the city celebrates it at the annual wine walk. 

Now I say all of these in a blunt and overtly descriptive way, and some has a pejorative connotation to it. This was one of my first problems: my frank way of stating realities came across as an affront to a lot of people. Perhaps that was for good reason. Politically a really stupid move, I philosophically believed we as a community should be confronting some of these things that could tease out the best parts, while leaving behind the antiquated and divisive ones, the things that actually harmed each other, to grow into a better community. (This was, in the end, not exactly a winning strategy.) 

Remember that time I ran for city council? 

We are divided into districts, and in my district there is a special brand of non-partisan voters that decide every single election. During the campaign, I precinct walked my entire district (flyering and doorhanging, only, because of the pandemic), and I cannot think of a single street that was absent a Trump 2020 flag. Each election, both of the major political parties seem to claim these non-par voters as their own, but the truth is they are the anti-establishment and anti-party voters who liked Trump because he wasn’t your normal politician. This view has not changed for them, in spite of all the chaos that comes with it.    

In truth, I only needed around 4,800 votes, plus 1. My district, in fact my entire county, has had a static presidential election year voter turnout around 80%. With only one other opponent in a race that is albeit easier to win when there are several options, 50% of that plus 1 would still win me my race. As it turned out, likely due to many people in my district being Conservative and/or pro-Trump, but knowing that in California this would be a waste of a vote, we only had a 67% voter turnout, and of that I only turned out 22% of them. A wet noodle of a result, if you ask me.

On the larger scale, my county is nestled in a more conservative swath of Southern California. It would be generous to call it purple. Here we have a lot of elected officials that are even branded as Democrats, and I believe they’re just so ineffectual and dysfunctional, the Republicans won’t even take them. A great example of this is my state assemblywoman. Originally a city council member in a neighboring town, this woman uses the Democratic Party like my ex-boyfriend that used me for rides to school. She has less interest in the Democrats or social justice, or any of their claimed causes and policy positions, than probably the Libertarians do, and yet she runs as one time and again. To be honest, it isn’t even exclusive to how she uses the Democratic Party, either. She uses closely aligned racial and cultural groups too, with zero interest in truly advocating for them. During the election I ran, she was at a candidate’s event I attended hosted by the local Islamic center. In response to the question on what she intended to do to fight Islamaphobia in and around the community, her response was: “I don’t know, but I always like your food!” When she decided to run for state legislature, she was pretty handily elected – a “just to the right of the center Democrat in a red pantsuit” is what I like to call her. Even further evidence to this Conservative underpinning is not only in her voting record, but the fact that out the door she endorsed my opponent – a right wing Republican, described by some in the community as “a miniature Donald Trump.” (Miniature in scope of office, and just because he is really a small, small, very small man.)

In the presidential elections, we usually go about 60% to the Democratic nominee, and last year was no different. However, every other race down the ballot – from governor to water board – is more of a mixed bag. Our local elections are non partisan, but this is neither a genuine designation, nor an accurate reflection of what powers control our grassroots community initiatives. The political party affiliation is either quietly known, or something people are overtly aware of: there is rarely an in between. 

The average voter though doesn’t even know that our local elections are technically non-partisan. This is something I learned fairly early on in the campaign. I did manual texting until the very end, and an explanation for my voters about what non-partisan meant, and how our city council seats were technically run in that manner, was needed so frequently that I ended up creating a note in my campaign phone that I could copy and paste it from. Just because you run non par, though, never meant you actually had to be non par. My opponent and I both took endorsements (and money) from our respective political parties. Him the GOP, I the Democrats. The thing I failed to get out ahead on, though – perhaps one of my earliest failings – was that in reality I’m politically all over the place. The Democrats just sort of fit at the time. In truth, I disagree with both the Democrats and the Republicans more often than I agree with them. 

At the end of the day, my opponent again masterfully manipulated my own messaging to portray me as a leftist radical that would turn our city into one where people were shackled by socialism, forced to wear burlap sacks and live in a communal shanty while paying allegiance daily to a dark Stalin-esque overlord. While he signed a fair campaign promise to not smear his opponent, he told people I – his opponent, just a mom – wanted to defund our police department and turn the city into a crime-ridden cesspool. 

This was my second major failing: as I did when I first got into politics out of college, I lived on my own fantasy island where people had educated political and philosophical discussions, and then chose candidates based upon whose ideas made the most sense. And, that people that agreed to fair campaign practices campaigned fairly. Stuck in my esoteric realm of academia and childish naivety, I let him control my message with his rumors and identity politics before even making my first campaign appearance. 

This failure of mine, and masterful manipulation of his, was even displayed on his signs: he was the independent and loyal candidate; I the partisan hack with a a secret agenda. Never mind the fact that he contracted with a local political consulting company that is exclusively by and for Republicans, and I hardly had the support of any local Democrats, the party simply endorsing me (I assume) because of an absence of any other options – none of this mattered, because most voters barely even knew there were local elections going on, let alone had the sense to check his campaign contribution filings to see who he was sending money to for the management of his campaign.  Nevertheless, when he and I were in front of our largest audience – the 55 and over neighborhood located in the center of our district – he manipulated the elderly by telling them that he was “Independent and Loyal” while I was a part of a Democratic conspiracy to sneak my way into local public office. I sat in disbelief – in the same way I sit in disbelief when I think about the entire candidacy today, as he said right into the camera for these Bettys and Berts to watch on their closed circuit television station. And while I moved to correct this glaring lie immediately, it was clear that the damage was done. They never hear the truth, they only hear what was said first. 

In any event, I ran. I lost. The decision to do so was precipitous, my family and I still feeling the disastrous social consequences of the choice. Here I am, more than a year later. I learned a lot of lessons, but more importantly I am still left – in many ways – bewildered that I did the thing at all, that it was real and serious and – most importantly – resulted in the most eye-opening and lesson-filled year of my entire life. 

Remember that time I ran for city council? To be honest, I’m not sure I could forget.

The Infection Was Initially Mild

This post is short, and sweet. I’m thrilled to announce that just over a year after running for city council (and losing – dodged a bullet, I’m learning), I’ve finished my 5 part series on the experience.

Titled ‘The Infection Was Initially Mild: My Small Town City Council Run, the Toxic American Pandemic Response, and What Both Mean For the Future of the Country,’ will be available wherever you prefer on February 1st, 2022.

In this post we’ve got:

  1. Details on how you can read, listen, or watch it
  2. Giveaways (there’s more than one!)
  3. The trailer!

The best part is that it’s entirely free. While there is a Pay What It’s Worth PayPal link, you can get all of the content entirely free to you. Why? Because I think it’s a critical story to tell, and also don’t want people to think that writing about it was the only reason I did it.

You’ll be able to read each part here on the website, download a PDF version, listen to it on Audiocast, or watch me read it on YouTube.

I’ll also be sending each part out weekly as a blog post. To sign up to just have them directly sent to your email box, go ahead and do so here:

Giveaways!

But wait, there’s more!

To celebrate the release of this, I’m hosting a Giveaway, and this one you won’t want to miss. One winner will be selected at random on Instagram LIVE on February 2nd. The winner will receive: a vintage political button puzzle, a box of Barnett’s chocolate covered gourmet cookies, a PURE personal air filter (I have one of these, they’re amazing), and a YEAR of Disney+ streaming services. Hit me up on Instagram and LIKE AND SHARE the heck out of this to be entered!

I’m also mailing out “THIS PANDEMIC SUCKS!” bookmarks! I have SO MANY still to give out. Just click this LINK to put in your information and get your bookmark today!

The Trailer!

Don’t leave without taking exactly 30 seconds to get in the mood for this new release!

Now go sign up for those Giveaways!

Newsletter #4: Recall, Do You Recall?

I saw a great meme this evening that encapsulates exactly the way I feel about life right now. What a goddamned shit show we are in, you know? I’m starting to really wonder how this is going to end for us. If you aren’t as well, you clearly aren’t paying attention.

Around the World

If you didn’t know: California had an astoundingly stupid 9 months that has finally concluded, and that is the special recall election of our governor, Gavin Newsom. I say 9 months, because before the election was put on the calendar, we had months of these bat shit ass crazy GQP fucks gathering signatures. For some reason I am still unclear on, they were allowed extra time by a judge to gather signatures… I guess the judge was pissed about the whole French Laundry dining experience back in early 2020 too… in any event, for 9 months, we were held hostage by these right wing nut jobs.

Yesterday, the recall was resoundingly shot down.

It wasn’t just resoundingly shot down – making Newsom the first governor in California history to beat back a recall, though. He actually outperformed his landslide election in 2018. He outperformed Biden’s 2020 election, making the path for 2022 and beyond a lot -the-fuck- brighter.

There were so many crazy things about this recall election though.

  1. Caitlyn Jenner – formerly Bruce Jenner, who also killed someone with her car on PCH several years ago – was originally the GOP frontrunner. This was a colossal joke, Caitlyn having absolutely no platform, and not doing much actual statewide campaigning (preferring national media like Fox And Friends, instead).
  2. Angelyne – single name – from my own county ran. Again. She ran in the recall against Gray Davis (and lost then too); the one where we got Schwarzenegger. The crazy part about Angelyne is that her day job is “Adult Entertainer.”
  3. A YouTuber from my county ran also. This guy who campaigned with a literal bear, and later an 8 ton ball of trash, made the news quite a bit. And from all over the state, we had an alarming number of Kevins on the ballot.
  4. The real threat was radio personality Larry Elder. This guy is described by Conservatives as “to the right of Trump.” We are talking GQP insanity in this guy. He believes the minimum wage should be $0. Not $5. Not fixed. NOTHING. He’s black and he doesn’t believe in institutional racism. His solution for homelessness is that the homeless pull themselves up by the bootstrap. His plan was to overturn all COVID measures, including masks and vaccines (the very things keeping California as the only state in the country currently seeing a decline in cases from High to Substantial transmission). Most alarming: last week, he said he hoped Roe would be overturned. The night before the election, it was leaked that he had already started developing a website to claim voter fraud… straight from the Trump playbook. You just cannot imagine how bad things would have been if he were elected governor, but he wasn’t so *phew.*

Well anyway, the recall was overwhelmingly defeated. In 41 minutes, making it a $276 million side show that didn’t even last an hour’s worth of election night coverage.

Fundamentally, I think the solution to this is to reform California’s election laws. California could be much further on COVID, the climate, and a lot of other problems that the governor could have been focusing on, had he not needed to be out on the unexpected campaign trail for the last several months.

And anyway, on the end of the day, it’s unconstitutional. Think about it: a minority of the voters for California – a nation-state comprised of 40 million people, 1 in 8 Americans – can gather their signatures to force a recall vote. It doesn’t matter how stupid their cause is, if they get enough signatures the vote goes forward. The options are then No, or Yes… and if Yes, then who? As many people that want to throw their hats in the ring can, and do, so you could have more than 50% vote to recall, but a candidate slides in with in some cases an alarmingly low percentage of the vote. But because they won by ranked choice… they become governor. You could have a candidate win only 10% of the popular vote, and that person still becomes governor.

How. The fuck. Is that right? It ain’t.

Around My World

Remember when I said my new hobby is bullying the mayor? Well…

First of all, it’s not “bullying.” It’s calling out, or arguing with. There’s a difference.

Second of all, it’s well beyond just the mayor. Turns out it’s mayors of neighboring towns, school principals, and local journalists.

The Mayor Next Door

Another thing that happened in California in the last several weeks was a couple of housing bills were passed in the state legislature that would expand- like immensely – affordable housing. If you didn’t know, housing in general and affordable housing at that is at an inflection point in California. These two bills came with hard work and dedication by state legislatures reflecting the will of their constituents. Hands. Down.

But local cities are not so happy about it, the leaders that is, because they in effect lose local control as a result of the language of these bills.

To be fair: the city leaders are the ones that created this crisis, so they don’t very well deserve local control anyway… but that’s a conversation for another day.

What is astounding to me is that they send these letters on behalf of the cities to the governor asking him to just abuse his gubernatorial powers and veto those bills. No plan to fix affordable housing – really – in any sort of substantive or authentic way. Just veto them: WE WANT CONTROL!

The mayor of my neighboring city – who also happens to be running for county supervisor next year, and may end up asking for my vote when post-census redistricting is done – posted her letter on Twitter asking for this gubernatorial veto (as if it was something everyone should be proud of). What was so glaring about it was that she claimed that the “majority of Californians oppose this bill.” That was, at the end of the day, a lie which she could not prove with any sort of factual studies or unbiased polling, as well as without any kind of logical reasoning or explanation behind her claim.

The real egregious part, though, was when she replied to me and said “I don’t usually engage in these things on social media…” Um. Really? You want people to vote for you but you won’t answer their very calm and reasonable questions? You just always think you are right and everyone else is wrong? You seriously just make shit up, can’t back it up with legitimacy, and just expect people to accept it?

Definitely lost my vote with that one.

The High School Principal

As most of you know, my kids homeschool. But I am watching all of the area high schools as my 8th grader decides on what she wants to do for high school… public, charter, private, at home still? Decisions, decisions.

At one of our local high schools last Friday, I happened to see a post on social media about a section of the football stadium by the principal of the high school, himself. Initially what I was actually taken aback by was the unmasked crowd of kids, tightly packed together, standing and screaming. I mean… we are still in the middle of a pandemic, right?

But then I read the caption, and that was when my head really exploded: “Check out these kids in their 9/11 pride!”

Excuse me? What exactly is 9/11 pride?

What exactly about the hijacking of planes and reigning terror on the country, and the world, was there to exhibit pride over? What exactly about September 11th as an anniversary of the day America changed forever are we proud about? How exactly are we to interpret this, on this day that we mourn the loss of thousands of innocent human beings?

September 11th is a day for remembrance and mourning. It’s a day to recommit to democracy, and denounce the terrorism and religious fundamentalism that threatened to destroy our country.

It is not a fucking day for American flag t-shirts, beer cozies, and red-white-and-blue face paint!

Local Journos

I had a little tiff with a local editor of a local paper last week, which turned into a shocking public display of his lack of journalistic integrity, respect for community members, and concern about the misinformation that permeates our society.

Long story short: the paper published a letter to the editor that made several unproven, false, baseless, and dangerous claims about masks. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know you are all like “not the fuck this again!” People are still complaining and arguing about masks though, and this particular letter was filled with misinformation.

Now I have had times where the editor of a local paper I wrote a letter to contacted me and asked me to back up a claim, or to warn me they would be putting a disclaimer at the bottom. My daughter had this happen to her just last year too, and most glaring is that it was from the same parent organization this local paper is a part of (same publication, different city).

On this letter full of dangerous and deadly misinformation about masks and kids, though… nothing.

A former elected official posted something out there on social media about how disappointed she was that there was no fact check note on the bottom, as is customary; and I backed her up: the letter, itself, was not only shockingly wrong, but dangerous.

Instead of admit a wrongdoing though, this guy from the newspaper fires back and tells me, in a nut shell: tough shit. There are two sides to every story, you all have different beliefs. Shocked, and bewildered, I simply said: but these are facts we are talking about, to which he said there was evidence “on both sides” we have available to us.

No. We do not. Sometimes we do, but in this and many other instances, facts are facts. Alternative facts do not exist. They just don’t.

There is a fine line between allowing for free speech, and amplifying misinformation. I believe journalists can allow the one, while making sure that reality is still reflected in the subtitles. Now almost a week later, I am still shaken to think that in my own community, even journalism operates under the guise that we can live in alternative universes where in one up is up, and in the other up is down.

STFU Fridays

Today, I commented on a post by our county about business grants, and someone replied to me the following:

“You are a vile and disgusting human being. We dodged a bullet when you lost the election last year.”

Ah, the joys of having run for city council and not either immediately moving away, or dying, upon defeat.

I wish I could say that this is abnormal and – dare I say – a little strange for the people that live around here. But no. Since I even announced my run for city council over a year ago, now, I have heard just about everything that could be said to, at, or about me. I’ve also had people throw McDonald’s cups at my front door, had people follow my children to the local public tennis courts and then post about it on their public Facebook pages, and right after the election was told that if I thought the harassment before November was bad, “just wait.”

(And to be fair, I was warned by several former city council candidates that this would happen. It’s just… how things are here…)

Here are just a few of my favorites that I’ve received over comment, email, and text since losing the election:

“You lazy slut you don’t belong in this city.”

“My pet hamster is more qualified to be on the city council than you are, and he’s been dead for 12 years.”

“Die and get fucked, in that order.”

“By saying a white woman was unqualified to be mayor, you showed yourself to be a racist and I want you to know I have let everyone know so that you never hold a position in this town ever again.”

“Kamala is a cunt and you sound about as cunty as her.”

“You don’t belong here you commie, leave while you know what’s good for you.”

To these people, who cannot seem to get over the election even though it was almost a year ago and – again – I LOST… shut the fuck up. Honestly. I am getting so tired of this. Beyond feeling threatened, and not really welcome in my own home community anymore; now I am constantly being forced to relive that failed experience by way of these mean comments that, well… what is the point of them? Why email me out of no where to tell me your dead hamster is more qualified than I am? Probably right, I don’t know. Why text me after months of not communicating with me, after no campaigning has been done, and I’ve moved on and just gone about my life, to call me a racist?

Something about this ain’t right, and frankly I don’t give a fuck what it is. Shut the fuck up. Shut the fuck up with the nastiness and the meanness and the rudeness. Shut the fuck up talking about my kids! They’re CHILDREN! And anyway… I. Lost. I fucking lost! Handily, too! You all got what you wanted! I don’t really go anywhere, don’t spend money in the city, don’t go out to eat around here anymore… we live our lives largely elsewhere. I don’t attend city council meetings. I’m certainly never running for office again (at least not around here)…

What more can I do to get ya’ll to shut the fuck up?!

I know. Nothing. Because that’s the thing: I violated the code of this community, which is that I asked questions, I talked about change, and I dared to suggest that everything is not perfect. And even though I don’t go to events and keep my finger on the pulse of local politics much anymore, I still do those things. Why? Because my kids have lives here, believe it or not, and I want them to grow up to a place they are happy and proud to continue to live in. And no matter how many threats or mean words are hurled my way, I won’t stop standing up for those people that did vote for me, and those that couldn’t, which means I’ll have to continue to thicken my skin until these worthless, local-yocal inbreeds finally shut the fuck up.

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For more election and recall talk, from last night’s recall… check out this podcast I was on as the results came in astoundingly fast: