California Emerge Board member and former Los Angeles mayoral candidate, Wendy Greuel, said at one of our first trainings, “Your friends will disappoint you and strangers will amaze you.” I didn’t fully embrace the meaning of her words until this week.
My campaign is in full swing and I’m spending most of my time working the phones, meeting with consultants and the media, studying issues, holding down a full-time management position, and being a wife and mother of two small children. The phone calls are vital, particularly during the first reporting period. I started to notice that I lacked support from some members of a professional women’s group of which I’ve long been an active member. Finally, a member let me know that some influential group members were actively supporting my male opponent. This had been construed by some members as an endorsement of my opposition. Some felt that they could not support me given the group’s actions.
I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me. I had spent well over a decade fostering relationships within the group. I had mentored well over thirty members, presented at countless events, written numerous articles for the newsletter, served as a committee chair as well as an active member of numerous committees, and had opened my home to members for group fundraisers. This is not to say that the group owed me their allegiance. I did feel, however, that they should not campaign against me, as that goes against the group’s core mission of advancing women in the legal profession.
And then I thought of Wendy’s sound advice: your friends will disappoint you and strangers will amaze you. Politics is a tough business, and we need to always remember the big picture. Know why you want to run. Believe in what you are doing. It will keep you anchored even when your confidence is shaken and your resolve begins to peel away. Remember that nobody owes you anything, and life is fluid. I picked myself back up, dusted myself off, and got back on the phones. I spoke with more passion and determination than I had before. I picked up a lot of support that day.
Mara Elliott is a 2015 Emerge candidate and a candidate for San Diego City Attorney in 2016