I have been coming to this place of political candidacy for a very long time. I grew up in a family where public service, political participation and contribution to the political process were paramount and almost mandatory. I grew up in Latin America/Caribbean where participation in the political process could for a segment of our society be the difference between life and death, between eating and starvation. We believed in the process. We believed in participating in order to effect change and make a difference in the lives of ourselves, our families and our communities. As children we were well versed in the politics of nations outside our borders. Names such as John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Shirley Chisholm, Valery Giscard d’Estaing, Anwar Sadat were regularly uttered in our home, so even as children we were aware of if not well versed in the politics of the United States and other nations. As such, my parents were very clear that if they were Americans they would indeed be members of the Democratic Party. I have inherited this legacy.
Both of my parents were public servants who were staunch progressives and took part at various levels in our national politics. When my family immigrated to the United States, to New York City, my mother joined the Democratic Party and immediately began participating in the politics of the time. Growing up in such a politically active family, there was no doubt that one day I would come to the place of serving my community and my new country in this manner. To this end I began preparing myself for this eventuality. I became engrossed in the politics of my community by volunteering for political campaigns at various levels. I walked precincts with my mother to get out the vote and to encourage our community members to register to vote and to explain to them the importance of being involved. We worked the polls on election days for many years in New York City with a passion that reflected the commitment that we had to our various candidates.
When I relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area my commitment did not wane. I dedicated myself to learning the Bay Area Democratic political landscape and got out to meet the various players. The landscape is as diverse as its people so in the beginning it was somewhat complicated. I wanted to be sure that I understood the needs of the communities of which I was a member. From Berkeley to Albany and finally to Richmond, California where commitments to causes and candidates differ from one city to the next regardless of the very close distance between these cities, I learned the needs of the various constituencies. It is a study in multiculturalism and the challenge of balancing the needs of all these groups.
What I have come to learn in my many years of participating in and learning the political processes of both east and west coasts is that regardless of the differences in culture, social class, race, religion or sexual orientation, just about every individual seeks the same outcomes: safe communities for their families, good schools, safe drinking water, clean parks and a feeling that they are heard by those who represent them. The varied constituents may go about asking for these needs to be fulfilled in different ways, but when all is said and done and my analysis is complete, I come to the same conclusion: it is most important to work toward a common good and seek unity within our communities. I have made this the theme of much of what I seek to accomplish in my work toward achieving my goal of holding political office. It is far better to unify than to divide. Therefore in working to address the needs of a community, it is the message that I would like to impart and it is the message that I seek from those within the political arena that I support.
Observing the international political landscape, I can only conclude that given the multitude of wars raging on various fronts around the globe, disunity is a central theme and it is one that I seek to address as I go forth in my political career and hope that it is one that can be achieved in my lifetime.
Sharron SK Williams
Class of 2012