I expected a run for public office would be tough but I never imagined the positive reactions I received after announcing my candidacy. My name is Jamila E. Taylor and I am running for Federal Way City Council in Washington state. I graduated from the Emerge Washington 2019 Christine Gregoire Cohort.
I am a daughter, a sister, an attorney and a community-focused advocate with more than 20 years of leadership experience and community involvement. I currently share a household with my mother and brother who have chronic illnesses and need help with many of their daily tasks. I also work full-time as an attorney for the largest public interest law firm in the state managing a program helping crime victims, including domestic violence survivors, with their civil legal needs. My professional and community efforts have helped me gain experience in nonprofit governance, program management, private-public partnerships, fiscal oversight and community-focused advocacy.
I am running for office because I want to help my community reach its full potential. For many residents, our city is a great place to live, work, play, volunteer, and worship. However, as we continue to grow we face challenges that require community-driven leadership. I want to shape the future for our city and ensure that our collective values align with how we have evolved. It is important that everyone be able to live in a community that is safe and affordable, and I strongly believe we all thrive when are anchored by a spirit of collaboration. I have the skills and experience to bring voices to the table to discover our shared values, and to work toward finding solutions so that our needs are met. I’m a leader, I listen and I am connected to our community. I take action to get things done and my passion for this city is deeply rooted in “Moving Federal Way Forward.”
Running for office is a daunting venture. The Emerge program tackled barriers and demystified the process of launching my own campaign. I needed a formal learning structure and natural opportunities to connect with people involved in politics. Emerge provide a safe space to test the most critical skills I needed on the ground in my campaign such as fundraising, giving speeches, understanding ethics and compliance, and networking. The most critical part of my training was that I was challenged to leave my comfort zone. I had long feared that fundraising would really be difficult for me but after doing call time on day one, I knew that I could do it.
Our cohort of 26 women from across Washington state was 40% women of color and/or LGBTQIA+. It was no surprise that being a woman of color or from a marginalized community, that there are many barriers we face in addition to sexism. We explored the racism and sexism within the Democratic Party, among progressives, other feminists and even within our group. In some instances, we found common ground but it was clear there was more work to be done. Nonetheless, doing this kind of reflection and connecting with these women each month was invaluable and we were more prepared to take on the task of seeking elected office.
My Emerge sisters gave me the moral support to run for office and consistently supported me throughout my campaign. In fact, I launched my campaign mid-way through the Emerge training. Not only were my Emerge sisters among the first to donate to my campaign, they amplified my efforts through social media, made referrals for professionals, volunteered and helped me navigate difficult situations and build necessary relationships. I am proud to say that they are some of my most excited and greatest champions! One Emerge alum, Washington State Senator Claire Wilson, was the first elected official to endorse my campaign and provide mentorship. As with any organization, what you get from your experience can be largely dependent on you. The Emerge reputation carries weight and expectations. I dove into the work of the program head-on because I needed these skills and new opportunities. I’m happy to say that the Emerge experience helped me unlock my true potential as a candidate.