Today (August 18) is my 35th birthday! This past year has been out of the ordinary for us all, but it’s been especially transformative for me. As a lifelong lover of birthdays, I thought I’d use the opportunity to update friends, family, and followers of The Tree Kisser about some changes in my life! This past year, I finally decided to pursue working professionally in politics. While I’ve explored multiple career paths since graduating from college, one theme has always been consistent: I want to make a tangible, substantial, positive difference in society. So it seems fitting that I would end up here, using my skills, creativity, and passion for justice to fight for candidates I believe in. Starting with Obi Ezeadi (candidate for City Council in Westminster, CO) and Lisa Smith (candidate for City Council in Arvada, CO).
One thing I’ve learned since getting into this work is that you have to be bold and straightforward in asking for the support you need, so here goes: If anyone in my life wants to help celebrate my 35th birthday, the only gifts I’m asking for are donations (any amount truly helps!) to one or both of the incredible candidates with whom I’ve been working! Here are some details about them:
Obi Ezeadi, a first-generation American with Nigerian parents, survived a childhood in which he experienced poverty, police brutality, and homelessness. Thanks to his perseverance, his intellect, and a bit of luck, he managed to escape the harsh conditions of his childhood and establish professional careers in real estate, technology, and hospitality. If elected, he will be only the 2nd black City Councilor in the history of Westminster. Obi is fiercely dedicated to demystifying political campaigns, the legislative process, and other complex aspects of both local and national government. He sees himself as not only a leader, but also an educator, often using social media to explain things like the new Child Tax Credit or how to access your city’s budget breakdown. Obi and I have both started small businesses and share an entrepreneurial mindset that helps us think creatively when strategizing. Working on his campaign has been a phenomenal experience for which I will always be grateful.
Lisa Smith is an Air Force veteran, an active member of Team Rubicon (an organization of veterans that specialize in emergency disaster response), a social worker, and a member of multiple local committees and advisory boards through which she helps small business owners and fights for affordable housing. Most political candidates claim to have a passion for public service, but Lisa genuinely does. She is also an animal rescue advocate, having consistently fostered shelter dogs for years. This past June, just a few days after her own beloved rescue dog passed away, she still said yes when asked to take in a recently abandoned shelter dog. Lisa is marrying the love of her life this weekend, making any donations she receives from you *extra* special!
Candidates running for down ballot positions (ie: State Senators & Representatives, City Councilors, School Board Directors, etc.) tend to have a much harder time raising funds, as donors focus more on national races. This is a shame, because your dollars can be much more powerful when put to use locally. A $10 or $20 gift is much more likely to influence the outcome of a local election than it is a Presidential race.
Your donations are used to cover campaign costs like staff salaries (when applicable), digital advertising, campaign literature, stamps, t-shirts for door knocking volunteers, and yard signs. Individual donations help demonstrate a candidate’s viability; a candidate with more donors than their opponent(s) can easily make the argument that they are more likely to win. Voters who aren’t highly engaged in local politics may not spend time voting if they don’t believe their candidate can win. And on a personal note, seeing donations come in from friends and family will make me feel all the more supported in this journey. You’ll also make me look good, and that can’t hurt 😉
Of course, I understand that not everyone is in a place to contribute financially! If that applies to you, but you still want to show support, I’d love for you to follow these candidates on Instagram (our primary social media tool) and engage with their posts when possible.
Follow Lisa at @lisasmithforarvada and Obi at @voteobi!
Now that my request is out of the way, I’d love to tell you a little bit about my journey.
I officially decided to go down the political road last December. Despite having been vocally opinionated about politics for years and volunteering to send campaign texts in the 2020 election, I had no idea how to enter the professional side of this work. I knew I needed experience, I needed to learn (a LOT), I needed mentorship, and I needed an opportunity through which I could dabble in multiple roles to help me clarify my path.
Thanks to incredible advocacy from Run For Something, an organization that endorses and supports young, progressive, and diverse candidates running in down ballot races nationwide, I’ve become increasingly passionate about local elections. Many Americans, especially on the left side of the aisle, have a bad habit of focusing on national elections while completely overlooking local races, despite the fact that decisions made by local leaders often have a more immediate impact on our lives. Republicans have been investing in local elections for decades, but Democrats are finally starting to catch up. I deeply want to help put smart, compassionate, and forward-thinking leaders into positions of power. If Q-Anon supporters are going to start running for school boards and city councils (and they really are), we need to match or ideally surpass the resources they’re putting into it.
My thirst for hands-on campaign experience combined with my increasing passion for local elections led me to Obi and Lisa. I connected with both candidates through social media and told them my goals and story. I offered to volunteer as a social media consultant and communications strategist in exchange for an immersive and hands-on experience. Obi and Lisa are both first time candidates, so I knew in many cases we would be learning together. My ongoing work with both campaigns has been a true gift, and I’m so grateful to both candidates for trusting me.
Both elections are coming up this November, and we have a LOT of work to do before then! Any support you can offer one or both of them would be deeply appreciated by all of us.
Thank you for reading!! Now I’m off to enjoy the birthday 🙂
xoxo Jessica / The Tree Kisser