Pre-launch series: Touched by my first donation

I got home and there was an envelope on the table. I had just decided on the day Trump was sworn in to go ahead and file my papers to be an official candidate for San Diego County Board of Supervisors in 2018. My wife told me something was in the mail but I was focused on work earlier that day so really didn’t pay close attention.  The small, white envelope was too short to be something official. I picked it up, opened it, and felt something that took my breath away.

Two of my friends became the first contributors to my campaign by writing checks for the maximum amount allowed by law. I was floored. Here’s why.

It’s not just that they are friends who were expecting their first child. It’s not just that the donation represents time away from their own families and loved ones. It’s not even that they did so basically immediately after I set up the committee.  What really had me both excited and near tears was the tremendous amount of faith they placed in me. It is one thing, I think, to get contributions from people who are involved in politics in some way.  Those donors are no less important and worthy of respect, but they are involved in the system in a way that most people are not. This donation was very clearly a statement that the things I stand for matter to them and they are trusting me to do what I say.

I was so excited that as I hopped in my ride share I blurted out to the driver that I just had an experience that I would never forget in my life. It’s not often outside of your wedding or graduation or the birth of a child that you can objectively look at a moment and know right then that it will stay with you forever.

The reason it was so meaningful for me is that these friends have listened to me talk for years about the importance of creating opportunity for children. We have discussed at length a region that prioritizes addressing homelessness in a massive way above building a football stadium.  They were there as I volunteered to mentor four Somali brothers in Bayview Heights, through years of cleaning up our North Park community, pushing for safer bike infrastructure, and volunteering to help homeless women downtown. To me, their decision to donate is a demand that I must honor. It’s a demand that I represent the values they know me to have and that if I am elected I will stand up for those values even if they are at times politically unpopular. My friends want clean air for their child, they want educational opportunities as that child grows up, and for him to be able to afford a home here when those opportunities turn into a career. They want an economy that works for everyone, especially people who aren’t as fortunate as they are. They put their faith in me and I won’t forget it.

Author’s note: I started writing about my preparation to run and about the early stages before I was publicly a candidate outside my friendship circles. This series just captures some of the raw thoughts and feelings I had.