I am sure it will come as a surprise to absolutely no one that I’d love to run for public office some day. It was always on the bucket list but life threw some curve balls at me that didn’t exactly fit into my career plans and well…here we are.
Recently a school board position became unexpectedly open and I briefly considered throwing my hat in the ring. Briefly because once sanity hit, and the usual pain I wake up with, along with my grueling treatment schedule and basically just juggling trying to stay alive…the husband and I figured maybe this wasn’t the best time to add the stress of trying to care for the educational welfare of the valley’s kids.
I also had to think about the type of person I would want on the school board and currently *I* didn’t fit my own criteria. I wasn’t attending meetings due to my health, I wasn’t interacting with as many school administrators as I’d like, nor was I up to speed as much as I’d like on the budget or ‘common core’ or new building concerns. Sure, I was way ahead of the average parent, but that wasn’t and isn’t good enough.
Granted I’d been reading everything I could get my hands on, even old meeting notes from years and years ago. Yet still, I knew I wasn’t ready. I expect a lot of our elected officials. Which brings me to another issue I had trouble with- this would be an appointment, not an election. Something that also didn’t sit right with me.
I also had this nagging feeling that while I was being as partisan as possible since becoming disabled, I had very little right to throw myself into a position that required as much nonpartisanship as one could muster while maintaining their sense of self.
For those who are unaware I spent my early career completely nonpartisan as a traditional journalist. No one would have ever have known how I felt, voted, or leaned on any given story I ever anchored, reported, or wrote. Six Golden Mics testify to that fact and I am very proud of them.
When I left that world for blogging, I had a hard time transitioning and went from screaming my opinion to whispering it to finally finding my voice.
As it turns out, I found it just in time to stifle it again in order to take the helm of running 2008 election coverage which required me to work with both side of the aisle and every candidate on the Presidential ticket. That required me to build bridges with the RNC and the beyond which resulted in, what I am very proud to say, was stellar coverage that went far beyond election day and into the health care battle where I worked to connect women bloggers with legislators intimately. If you wanted to ask then Speaker Pelosi a question, I made that happen. If you wanted to talk to Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers, I made that happen. That was my job and I was damn good at it- and damn good at making sure that same balance of voices-left, right, center-were heard on the site as well. Do you have any idea how hard it was to manage those who shall remain name-less (but feel free to go look them up) who went on to write for Breitbart, Huffington Post, Townhall, etc. all on in one political section? I should have gotten hazard pay…and I’ll leave it at that.
So as I sat thinking about running for a nonpartisan position, I just couldn’t help but think, ethically, now wasn’t the time. Nope. I’d have to spend more time working on getting through this Affordable Care Act battle, the many LGBT battles, including the current one in our schools that thankfully the Governor took action and signed into law, among many other things before I was ready to take on a position that required me to represent a district with some diversity. I say ‘some’ because let’s face it, the Santa Clarita Valley still has a ways to go when it comes to the whole ‘white flight’ bedroom community. We’re getting better. The demo is changing. But we’re not exactly there yet. And I have too many important battles I believe need my voice on this side right now, where I am making a difference.
Now of course I would run on an agenda, and that agenda would lean left. However I firmly believe that once you are elected you are representing everyone in your district. It’s one of the things I admire most about President Obama, and one of the things that drives me the most insane about him. I wish he’d only govern with Progressives in mind, but he doesn’t. He governs with the entire country in mind. Something I would hope to do if ever elected to office. Do his policies lean left? Yes. But does he make an effort to bring everyone to the table and even include solutions from the other side…always. (And as I see conservative heads exploding as they read that…I will give you one example just to get you going: that mandate you hate so much in Obamacare? It was compromise starting point from the President to make conservatives happy because it came directly from the Heritage Foundation and Romneycare. It was the HERITAGE MANDATE, just saying…)
So where is all this going you’re wondering? Well I’ve been meddling on Facebook in some local groups. Mostly because I was following some local reporters and some friends, which lead me to mingling with local elected officials.
Currently the President of the Hart District is Joe Messina. He actually has a right-wing, radio talk show in which he regularly features people like Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute (labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center) and apparently this week he’s talking to Newt Gingrich’s wife. I can’t make this stuff up. And I can’t imagine what a student who even slightly pays attention to the board must think.
I bet the LGBT students of the Hart district must really get all warm and fuzzy when they read the President’s blog and it says (and for context- he’s speaking about a study he fails to link to claiming adolescence lasts longer and for argument’s sake pretending he agrees with the findings), “Why do we let, 7, 9, or 15 year olds decide they are gay, lesbian, or transgender? How do they make that kind of life-altering decision when their brain, according to the experts, isn’t capable of making that decision yet…If “children” ages 18 through 25 do not have sufficient brain development to make career decisions and live independently, how can children younger than that make life-altering decisions regarding sexual orientation and abortion? I doubt there’s enough “science” to explain that one to me!”
The President. Of our school board. This is what he does when he’s not looking out for my kids…he’s on the air acting like he’s the next Rush or Beck and railing against bathrooms being accessed by transgendered youth and he writes things like:
“…A New Hampshire high school graduate and boot camp graduate was barred from wearing his Marine Corps uniform in lieu of the traditional cap and gown. The young man had worked hard to make sure he had his credits done in time to leave early to go to boot camp, pass boot camp and get back for graduation. The school board, in my opinion, made a terrible mistake not allowing him to do so. No reward for his hard work. However, if he was a transvestite, would they have allowed him to dress as a woman, wear the female gown, wig, high heels, and so on? I have seen some graduations where the rainbow colors were worn as a scarf or the gown itself. And this is Equality? How?…It seems that equality is what some people (usually those on the political left) deem it to be and everyone else can, well, go pound sand!”
So you can imagine Messina and I don’t exactly see eye to eye on…well… anything. Awhile back I attempted to meet with him over tea and coffee to discuss the divisiveness I saw coming from his role as a pundit and board President and attempted to offer solutions. He was cordial. I was cordial. I made him promise to think of ALL the kids in his district when moving forward, he agreed.
Months later, I not only feel were my solutions entirely ignored but I now feel they are openly mocked. But he’s a white, Christian, Republican in a Buck McKeon town…he knows he has the advantage. Plus, everyone talks about how they just love him. Yup, they say…oh no matter what hateful rhetoric he spews on his daily show he’s such a nice guy and he really votes in the best interests of our kids, Erin! I mean, we can forgive him for being so passionate about what he believes because he gives so much time and energy on the board to the kids.
Yup. All for the kids. Please, take a look at his radio show’s Facebook page too. It’s ok, it’s all for the kids and he’s really a nice guy. Notice it has a No Bullying sign on the top. The irony, it burns.
As a parent in the district and as a someone looking to be healthy enough to one day run for office I just couldn’t let go a recent back and forth where he also took to Facebook to write things about me that are not true. Now, I get into political debates with people all over the web all the time. You have all seen me do this on twitter, on facebook, on my blog…but I can’t say I’ve ever gotten into it with the President of my local school board who then went on to lie about me.
Messina said, and I quote: “Erin – We can do this all day, you find one, ill find one, and so on.. Your rant about how Atheists are smarter than people of faith left out a lot about the ONE article you looked at and how the ATHEISTS who wrote it came to that conclusion. Yup you would make a good trustee with your very open, fair and warm support of all people.”
Now let me make something clear here. There is no ‘rant’ by me about how atheists are smarter than people of faith.
There is a facebook post in where I post a study and I ask the question if the study is ‘junk science’ and a debate takes places, by and large without me as I was dealing with two kids home from school that day. Feel free to read and take a look.
At any point in that thread do I pass any judgement on atheists or religious folk? Do I rant? Do I draw any conclusions other than to lean towards it being junk science?
That is, IF that is what Mr. Messina is referring to…because he then, oddly, accuses me of yet another lie: “…Your blog shows you believe that people of faith have a lower IQ than those who don’t, does that mean you have pity on the kids in school that believe in God? Should they have “SPECIAL” classes to help them out, Why? or Why not?…”
I asked Messina to show me where not only this so called ‘rant’ took place but to also please show me where I have ever said anything like this on my blog or ANY blog I have EVER written for, and I gave him a list from MOMOcrats to BlogHer and beyond. Just in case he wasn’t familiar with all the place I write on the web.
No answer as of yet on the Facebook thread. I have screen shots of the entire conversation which includes much, much more… like the President of the Hart School Board’s solution to the transgender bathroom issue being to put pictures of genitalia on the bathroom/locker room doors and if you match the genitalia, that is where you should enter. When I protested that this would ‘out’ the student his response was “ERIN – Outs the student, doesnt the STUDENT get OUTED when his PENIS is hanging out in the girls locker room.. Try Again!”
…and I’m the one sarcastically being told I would make such a good trustee with my very open, fair and warm support of all people.
Maybe he’s right though and the sarcasm is warranted. Because I really don’t have an open or fair mind when it comes to bullies. A sad point to have to bring up for someone in charge of leading our children. Also for someone who is ‘buddies’ with the aforementioned Dacus who has launched an all out campaign against anti-bullying programs.*
Luckily I won’t be bullied into giving up my aspirations for running for office and certainly not by someone who lies about me. I mean seriously, there are ENOUGH real and totally worthy POLICY issues we disagree on that he could have his pick from, why make something up?
There is no making sense of the senseless, I guess.
I do, however, expect more from the President of my local school board. Back up your claims about me or apologize for lying, retract your statements, and move on. My body may not be ready for a campaign but my mind is already in the fight. And I won’t be the victim of a pre-emptive strike by someone who attacks me with lies simply because he doesn’t like my politics. I don’t like your politics, Mr. Messina, but I’m certainly not going to lie about you to locals in the hopes of what? Turns votes my way in the event we ever run against each other? Sorry, I don’t play that dirty political game.
Luckily the politics in Santa Clarita Valley are changing and I will be less alone as a progressive looking out for everyone in the Valley, not just the status quo.
*I would also like to note all of my claims are backed up with linked sources, something Mr. Messina has yet to do on his blog posts or his facebook posts.