Over the weekend, while I was out canvassing in District 3, I came to the house of two folks I’ve known for a long time, John and Molly. Molly met me at the door and sat me down on her porch as I answered her questions about the Charter Commission.

Then she asked how I felt about the mailer from People First Charter that went out endorsing me and attacking one of my opponents. I explained that this mailer was sent by a PAC without my knowledge or consent; it did not reflect the message of my campaign, nor did I approve of the divisive rhetoric that it contained. I would never try to build myself up by tearing someone else down – particularly someone who I’ve worked with in the past and whom I respect, like one of my opponents in the race for the District 3 Charter Commission seat, who was singled out.

I said that the ranking “systems” that some organizations have used are extremely misleading and scientifically unsound, and a visual ploy meant to capture the momentary attention of busy people who may not understand all the complexity and nuance of the Charter Commission race.

She sighed with relief. They had found the mailer upsetting and had removed my sign from their yard after receiving it.

It pains me immensely to write these words. I have worked hard over the past few months, carefully explaining the issues of the charter and having my own ideas evolve in the course of speaking to hundreds of people from their front porches. It saddens me that all this work (as well as 15 years of advocating for my neighborhood and my community) can be undone with a few partisan phrases cast from the shadows without my consent.

We all must approach the charter revision with an open mind – I have yet to meet a human being who has nothing left to learn – and we must also approach the work with our personal principles. I consider myself a progressive person, but I am nevertheless pragmatic by nature: my priorities are to make sure that vulnerable and marginalized residents of this city are represented, and even centered, by this charter process, but nothing much happens in America without working in partnership.

For 15 years I have forged relationships with people from all sectors and walks of life. The basis of these relationships is not dogmatic agreement or political loyalty but rather trust, good faith and hard work.

I sincerely hope that all advocacy organizations, if they wish to participate in this process, choose the path of dialogue, not division. This is not the work of the progressive advocates who I know and have worked with.

Despite this, I’m still proud to be running for the Charter Commission and am ready to serve my community. For me, it is the continuation of thousands of hours of policy analysis, civic engagement and community organizing. But most of all it has given me many rewarding personal relationships – like the one I have with John and Molly, who put my sign back up in their yard.

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