Chuck Wolfe

Garnet Lewis is the real deal

Filed By Chuck Wolfe | October 23, 2008 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Garnet Lewis, Michigan, openly gay candidate, running for office, Victory Fund

At the Victory Fund, we don't endorse "sayers." We endorse "doers" - people who aren't content to sit back and complain while other people get their hands dirty. In that spirit, I'd like to introduce you to one of our candidates - Garnet Lewis, who is running for the Michigan House of Representatives.

lewis.jpgGarnet is the real deal. She decided to run for office after the 2004 election, announced her candidacy in 2007 and has been knocking on doors in her district since last December. I'd like to let her do the talking and explain what it means to be a candidate for public office.

The night I decided to run for office I was sitting on the couch watching the presidential election returns in 2004.

I had become more involved that year, though mostly online. 2004 was the year Michigan's marriage amendment was on the ballot and I worked to spread the word on that.

I was shocked and disappointed when the final results came in - Bush won and the marriage amendment passed. I resolved, right then and there, at 3:00 in the morning, to get more actively involved. Online politicking just wasn't enough.

My partner, who was traveling for work at the time, called the next morning for the election results. We were both so depressed.

I said to her, "Well, we can either move to Canada or get involved."

She said, "well, we're not moving to Canada so let's do it."

Thankfully, I had previously been active in other candidate's campaigns, so I had a good sense of what to expect in running a campaign. Despite that experience, nothing prepares you for the real thing: meetings; hob-nobbing with labor organizations, recruiting volunteers, raising money...

Once I decided to run, it got busy fast. As a planner, I was able to put together a strong campaign team who helped me develop a viable field plan. We've used that document as our guide ever since. The best thing about filing early (July, 2007) is that I've had the time to hone my message. I really feel like I am hitting my stride at the right time.

Sometimes you have to be willing to put your neck on the line to do what is right. I believe that state legislators are often more concerned about their own necks and careers than about the people they represent. Well, if you aren't serving your constituents, you have no business taking their tax dollars as payment.

While I value the Victory Fund's endorsement highly, it's important to me to be more than just "the gay candidate." Luckily, I've been actively involved in the local political and service sector for several years now most folks with whom I interact know me as a grassroots progressive. As a result, they don't see me as someone who's emerged from nowhere.

For me, everything comes down to education, whether it's on the formal or informal level. I truly believe that when a person takes the time to get educated on the issues that they make more informed decisions.

Having made my career as an educator, it is my job to promote that kind of learning - that same philosophy will apply when I am in the House of Representatives.

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Good luck, Garnet. I'll be rooting for you!