Campaigning with Kids

Moving Toledo forward… don’t forget strollers and snacks

Sometime last year when I brought up the idea of running for local office again to my children I wasn’t quite sure what they might say. Would they respond like I was asking them to go feed the cat, or like I was taking them to the movies? The truth is, we had a lot of fun on the campaign trail in 2017. The parades were fun (they liked the t-shirts and stickers), and we even made going door-to-door a fun activity.

But running for office is a lot of work. So, one day I asked “do you think we should try again to run for City Council?” My oldest chimed in first “Of course! You were so close last time!” Then, not surprisingly, the younger two followed their big sister’s lead. It made me happy to hear their joyful, encouraging and excited responses.

Running for office

Now, as we get closer to getting the 2019 campaign off the ground my wife and I are reminded of the challenges of running for office with small children. Often people talk about the undertaking of campaign life as an all-encompassing endeavor that is mentally and emotionally taxing. That is true concerning campaigns and, as all of us in households with kids also know, it is also a great description of parenting life. Parenting takes all of our energy. Every day brings new challenges and obstacles and most must be dealt with immediately. The truth is, raising kids, and running for office can be very similar at times. While it may seem that these two commitments don’t quite fit together, I want to share a few good moments we discovered while raising small children and running for local office.

Parenting and campaigning together

First, whether it is running for office, starting a business, or going back to school to pursue another degree while raising a family, I believe it is important to bring the kids with us along the way. The activities we engage in as a family have a formational effect, not only with each of us individually, but also for the entire family unit. Including our children in what we do as parents matters. Including them allows us to spend more time with them and they learn, first hand, things that are important to their parents.

When we bring the kids along, we introduce them to the issues we are trying to solve, allowing them to meet the very communities we are seeking to serve. This continues to involve them in the work of repairing the world, and serving our community, where we work and live.

More specific to campaign life, when I bring my children along on the campaign trail, and include them in the problems we are trying to solve, we also provide a picture of what political activity looks like. When I meet someone on their front porch who isn’t interested in voting for me, but we can still have a meaningful exchange about what our community needs and how to move Toledo forward, we help dilute all too common current perceptions of political interactions that our kids are surrounded by. Community isn’t predicated upon agreement. Our neighborhoods aren’t beautiful places to live because everyone agrees. And, when I knock on doors with my kids in tow, I’m often showing them that very thing.

So, this year, as I head out on the political path again, I’m bringing my kids along, including them in this service to the community, and hoping to show them what our democracy has to offer. Someday, and through whatever challenges my daughters decide to take on, I hope they’ll bring me along too.

Editor’s Note: The author ran unsuccessfully for Toledo City Council in 2017, finishing eighth with the top six vote getters elected to Council. He is currently campaigning for the Toledo City Council District 5 seat in the forthcoming 2019 election.

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