I ran for Duluth City Council (citywide seat) in 2009. After winning the primary election hands down, I lost in the general by only 195 votes. I have worked for equality and social justice in various small nonprofits, advocating for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse for the last 22 years. Some people thought this wasn’t the right kind of experience for political leadership, but over 11,500 community members did and voted for me on Election Day. I wanted to run to bring a voice to the many who don’t have a voice in local politics. I know I did just that. For the first time in debates the candidates had to answer questions about oppression, violence and poverty in addition to infrastructure and taxes. I took some hits in the media as an out lesbian, which hurt my campaign, but inspired and helped many other women run in the next cycle – and win! VoteRunLead meant the world to me. I went to several candidate trainings and I finally felt at home when I walked into VoteRunLead. The focus on women as candidates gave me the confidence and the hard skills for public speaking and debate that I needed to run a successful campaign. If you have ever thought “I would like to change that” or “That doesn’t seem right” run for office! Win or lose, the connections you build and the leadership qualities you gain will help you move whatever issues concern you forward. I am now the Executive Director for a child abuse agency and am leading this little agency into the national spotlight. Go for it – the women of VRL will be there every step of the way!