Let’s be honest; the paths I take usually don’t make much sense from the outside. The life I’ve created, when I look at those around me, is basically just one big blur of raised eyebrows and softly shaking heads.
It doesn’t faze me, because over and over, at critical moments, someone important to me confides: “I wish I could do what you do, take the risks and act irrationally for what’s deeply important to you” — I usually just say “thanks” but I’m always thinking, “you can too… if you only believed in your own ability to live with uncertainty…”
And so, the time has come once again for David to go off and do something crazy. Though despite the post title implication, I’m not running for office. Phew.
But my father, Ken Anderson, is running for office. And he needs a campaign manager, someone who has the experience with digital tools to make sure all <60,000 voters in Utah House District 71 hear his message of civility, transparency and accountability in public life.
After saying my ‘bye-for-nows in Vegas this week, I’ll be basing myself a few hours north up I-15, in La Verkin, the little town in Washington County right next to the hot springs my father protected for almost 30 years. As of last May, my dad was kicked off the land he stewarded by the Washington County Water Conservancy District (WCWCD), and the healing mineral water he shared with visitors has since been ripped out of the grotto pools, all for no publicly-justifiable reason.
Is this bid, for my father, about wresting hold of the power to finally make right the travesty perpetrated around Pah Tempe? It may seem so based on the circumstances, but the simple answer is “no, not really.”
Indeed, it’s more that when the WCWCD made their final grab for Pah Tempe by driving him into bankruptcy after 6 decades as a successful businessman, they left him with little more to do with his time than work in his garden. So when the state’s Democratic party called and asked him to run for Utah’s House in his District, he had very little reason to say no, even if it seemed like a lark for a non-Mormon in a deeply-conservative dominant culture.
After all, most of the 75 members of Utah’s House of Representatives are bishops or better in the LDS church. Indeed as one of those good ‘ol boys, my dad’s opponent had held the seat easily (once unopposed) for more than a decade. With so many important things to work on, why even try?
So, I initially filed the possibility away as a lost cause, even as my dad continued to file paperwork, meet regulatory deadlines, and build a team of volunteers around him who were eager to help an underdog.
And then I dug into the stats. Despite the fact that the Republican wins with 80% of the vote in almost every state race in rural Utah districts, my father’s district 71 has a much different history, owing to the liberal enclave of Springdale, right at the entrance of Zion NP. With 3+ million nature-loving visitors per year coming through Zion, some inevitably stay and become local residents, which has over the years led to much more diversity of opinion in a place where it traditionally only takes 20% of *potential* votes, or around 10,000, to win a race. We’re talking tons of unregistered and young people and minorities (yep, even in Utah!), and a huge opportunity to bring modern, Obama-style organizing nimbleness to a place which has never seen it before.
So, how can I not go help with this crazy mission with my crazy father? I’m so pleased that you understand. So, uh, catch ya on the flip side, y’all.
P.S. And stay tuned for more on what this might mean for my other projects!