Today’s guest post has tons of amazing advice from Jenna Guzman-Lowery, newly elected member of Redlands City Council! All of us at She’s a Full On Monet want to congratulate you on this amazing accomplishment, Jenna. Jenna is truly an inspiration, and her story is proof that with lots of hard work, motivation, and a dream you can gather people around, it’s possible for anyone to be a successful politician. Without further ado, we’ll hand it over to Jenna and kick it off with her amazing video explaining her vision for the Redlands community!
2020 was a rough year for everybody, there’s no question about that. Politically speaking, it has been a total nightmare. Though I have always been active in the political sphere, my role has been mostly as a volunteer for progressive candidates and as an avid reader of political theory. I’ve been inspired by mentors that have encouraged young leaders to put themselves out there in an attempt to shift the current cultural zeitgeist, so I decided to put my money where my mouth is and run for my local city council.
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Here are six things I wish I knew before I ran for office:
1. Time is of the essence – When I got into this, I had less than three months to run a campaign. Add on top of that the changes to CA voting styles due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and we were looking at less than 100 days to connect with voters, amplify our message, and raise enough money to do it all. When you are running a successful campaign you really have to pay attention to where energy is spent. Endorsements do not win votes. Time is best spent connecting on the ground with your constituents and the real human lives that you aim to represent.
2. You need money – I don’t like that money rules the world. I hate the power differentials and structural inequities that exist due to economic disparities between the rich and the poor. Wealth disparities are rampant in politics, but you still need money to reach your voters. Don’t be afraid to ask for donations or request volunteers to work on creative pursuits. People will want to participate in meaningful change and they will want to financially contribute if they believe in your message.
3. Stay true to your values/always speak your truth – The most important morsel of wisdom I acquired on this journey was that there will always be stakeholders who want to influence your platform. Many people will have much to say. You will be influenced, but if you always speak to what you know and are honest when you don’t have an answer, you will maintain your integrity and credibility without losing your core values.
4. People will judge you no matter what — People weren’t sure of me because of my “young” age (30), my lack of political experience, and because the message of our campaign was different from the status quo. You have to learn what to hold on to and what to let go of. Some feedback is great and will help you to grow and evolve, whereas other feedback is not conducive to your work. People who are threatened or fearful of your message will always find hurtful things to speak about you. Be brave and trek forward.
5. Have your ride or die crew — You have to know who your people are. Your volunteers and your main crew are essential for maintaining stamina throughout the process. Mentors, guides, and sturdy friendships are essential.
6. Real change is hard to make – I ran in a town that values its traditions and legacy. Progress does not happen overnight. It requires determination, patience, and flexibility. Sometimes you will have to accept that oftentimes your work may be seeds that you will not get to see bloom, and you have to still show up with 100% effort to plant those seeds.
We hope this post inspired you to take that next step in political activism! How do you engage in local politics? Let us know in the comments!
About Jenna Guzman-Lowery
As a newly elected member of Redlands City Council, Jenna Guzman-Lowery hopes that her community-centric approach to policymaking will lead to social and economic prosperity for the City of Redlands. She’s especially passionate about helping the Redlands community through the COVID pandemic, and helping the individuals and small businesses that have been seriously impacted. You can learn more about her campaign and platform on her website.
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