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Crybaby no longer

Guest column: A responsibility to lead

By AJ Wahl

Published on June 23, 2017 12:01AM

Last changed on June 26, 2017 9:14AM

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Andrea "AJ" Wahl

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I cried on Election Night last fall. Reeling from the affront to our Democracy, I was disappointed to see the Republican message go on the attack, calling the millions of voices that rose up “crybabies.” It was so sexist, so banal, so over — assuming and uninformed. Yes, I cried, but I also committed to stay active, stay informed, and stay involved.

On Jan. 9, I was one of over 3 million people, the so-called “crybabies,” that marched against misogyny and in support of human rights, flexing the abused muscles of our democracy. I saw the faces of women who have marched before, and through decades of setbacks and insults, they have seen progress. One woman, in her 70s, wearing a suffragette outfit and a calm, determined smile, will live forever in my memory. She reminded me of my grandmother, who wrote letters to her elected officials while on her lunch break as an elementary teacher. These women, and so many women before, have improved the world for me and the girls following in our footsteps.

Now it is my responsibility to lead. I’ve put my legal career, business career, and political career on hold in order to raise my two daughters. Along with my husband, we live in a town of about 6,000 people on the coast of Oregon. Given the state of our country, I can’t be completely on hold any longer. I watch my daughters sleep and play in the innocence of youth, and I feel a duty to protect them. To serve them. To lead them.

I mobilized. I called my local Democratic Party, and I ran for local school board. I announced my candidacy with my two-‐year old daughter on my shoulders. As she played with my hair and slapped me on the head, I declared to a room of new faces that I was dedicated to my community, ready to get involved, and I asked for their vote. It was terrifying, but invigorating. I am now a part of something much larger than myself, and together with the millions of empowered men and women across the country, we can correct this course.

I just lost my election, but I didn’t cry. My opponent was a mother and business owner in the community. We had six candidates running for four positions on the local school board, and of those candidates, four of them were women. Compared to the special election two years ago, voter participation increased 12 percent. I may have lost this race, but I’m not done. And I’m not the only one. Yesterday, we marched. Today, we run. Crybabies? Ha. Just watch what happens next.



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