Thank you to everyone who came out to vote on Tuesday and congratulations to Rep. Brad Sherman and Mark Reed for winning the two top spots.
I always love election days. I still remember when I first registered to vote. I was 17 and pre-registered to make sure I would be able to vote in the midterm just after my birthday. I loved the ceremony of it – a citizen with a ballot, casting a vote, getting a sticker. A periodic reminder that our government is “of the people,” and we get to choose who best represents us. We know that our democracy is only as good as those who show up, and I saw it in action despite the problems at the voting centers.
After seeing the long lines and hearing that the delays were wide-spread across Los Angeles County, I drove around to some of the voting centers to hand out water to those in line, determined to make their voice heard (without revealing who I was, of course). I had a firsthand look of the energy of my community – the moments of camaraderie to keep one another in line, meeting neighbors for the first time, the erupting cheers when someone was finished after hours of waiting. We so often isolate ourselves without knowing it, so it’s always nice to have a rare moment where the community can interact with itself, even if the circumstances were grueling.
As far as the campaign goes, unfortunately, we didn’t win this one. But whether it’s in elected office or as a private citizen, I’ll never stop fighting for this community. To those who did vote for me to be your representative in Congress – thank you. I didn’t have a large operation, never had a financial war chest, didn’t have widespread name ID, but I did have a message for a more equitable San Fernando Valley, and thousands of you put your trust in me.
Something I did not expect to happen was the flood of emotion that came over me once the results started to come in. Knowing that behind each of those votes was a real person. Some of them I may never meet or know, but in that one moment of casting a ballot, we connected in a shared vision. One of justice and equality and of fundamental fairness.
I have a lot of conflicting feelings about the ins-and-outs of this race, but one feeling I don’t have is regret. After all, I got into this race because I wanted to be of service, and that will never stop being true. I have a lot of pride in what we were able to accomplish. All of your love, letters of support, and friends I’ve met through this process will always be another reminder to me about the inherent goodness of local community.
Quite frankly, this election process made me a better person, as corny as that may be to admit. At a time of well-earned cynicism about electoral politics and the state of our nation, I wasn’t expecting to gain so much from a defeat. But I did, and it will only help me better serve our community in the long run.
I want to thank our current representative, Brad Sherman, for what he has done for the San Fernando Valley in all these years of public service. In talking to so many residents, it’s obvious that there’s a lot of love for him as our elected official. Moving forward, I hope that he pushes himself to engage with his community more, to fight more on the issues that affect us beyond just casting a vote, and to stop hiding behind the same defenses when we have valid critiques. We are behind you when you listen to us, when you grow with us.
I also want to thank CJ Berina, another progressive candidate in the race. Like me, he believed in what was possible for the San Fernando Valley and put himself out there to make the argument. His talent and passion are undeniable and I hope to be working alongside him as we fight for the progressive cause, both in our little corner of Los Angeles and the country. A lot of good progressive candidates did win or qualify for the November ballot across Los Angeles, but that’s only possible when we are in the mix everywhere.
And finally, none of this would have been possible without the unwavering love and support of my wife, Stephanie Tait. Her hyper-sharp sense of what is right and what is just has always kept me focused on the real stakes of the bigger picture, especially in these last few months. As much as I love to get into the weeds on civics, it’s helpful to have someone to warn you when the lawnmower is coming.
The biggest enemy of justice has always been apathy, even more than who we consider to be on the other side of these debates. Democracy doesn’t end at the ballot box and there’s plenty of work that still needs to be done. Take time for yourself when you start to feel overwhelmed, but never lose your focus. I’ll be working to find the best way that I can be of service and I hope to see you there.
Thank you all for this campaign and let us all continue to fight for progressive change!