-by Kyle Dalsimer
As a young progressive college student, I spend a lot of my free time researching politicians, reading legislation, and watching contested elections across the country as they develop. I’m incredibly passionate about the right of every person in this country to receive healthcare, making substantive changes in environmental policy to fight climate change, increasing the accessibility and affordability of education, and most importantly, making sure the legislators in office who can control these things are actually fighting for the people. I truly believe that without people in office to enact them, progressive priorities and legislation are admirable, but improbable at best.That’s why I want my mom to run for Congress.
Before I go on, I want to note that while I love my mom quite a lot, her history of doing the right thing and fighting for change would make me excited about her as a candidate even if I’d never met her before in my life. My mom has been a leader on the environment and natural resources for the past 30 years, working at every level from nonprofit all the way to managing the department of natural resources at DoD, who by nature of owning private military lands have more quality habitats and endangered species per square mile than any other agency in the nation. She worked within the system to push for substantive change. While working under contract, she drafted an update of the Defense Department’s Natural Resource’s Instruction, adding Climate and Sustainability language over short-term gains. It was the first time a federal agency included climate change in their natural resources policy. She helped create Partners in Flight and Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, organizations that span across the Western Hemisphere to fight the declines in population for birds and herps, respectively. She also helped to found DoD’s branches of both groups during her time there. She is a recipient of multiple awards for her work in the field, including the NMFWA Natural Resource Policy Award, the USAF Award for Outstanding Contribution to Conservation, and the Al Gore National Partnership for Reinventing Government “Hammer” Award for getting the Defense Department to join the National Public Lands Day Partnership.
Aside from her experience in environmental work and policy, the biggest thing that stands out to me about her as a potential candidate is her sheer integrity. She has always preached to me and my younger sister that “you get to choose every day whether you want to do what’s right or what’s easy” and has led by example time and time again on doing what’s right. When she first stepped into the policy world, she went on a few job interviews. She was offered two positions. The first was at a corporate law firm where she would work with various businesses and corporations. The second was the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, a nonprofit focused on sustaining and revitalizing our environment. Despite a substantially lower salary, she chose to work with NFWF because she knew that she’d be “making a positive difference every day.” She brings that mentality not only to her career, but to her to her work as a mother and caregiver. At one point in my life, my mother worked a full time job managing the Department of Natural Resources, was a full time single mother to two very active teenage and pre-teen children, and was a full-time caregiver for both my blind, immuno-compromised grandmother, as well as my late father when he was battling cancer. I don’t tell you this so that you feel sad or take pity, but to tell you that despite working what would equate to 100+ hour weeks between all of her “jobs” during that time, she handled and took care of each one without hesitation or complaint. She is a warrior and champion for those she cares about, and as a Congresswoman I have no doubt that she would be a warrior and champion for her district and citizens across the country.
If I’d brought the idea of running for Congress to my mom a few years ago she would’ve laughed, and frankly I wouldn’t have blamed her. She was managing a federal agency in the field she’d done so much work in for over half her life, and was consistently working within that system to make positive changes. All that changed under the Trump Administration, where in the course of a few years, my mom’s position was cut due to cuts in environmental budget and funding as a whole, as well as most of her life’s work being repealed and cast aside by this administration. In a matter of years, decades of her life work was undone. Resilient as ever, she immediately decided that instead of moping or being sad about what was lost she needed to “find a new route where I can make a positive difference that won’t be destroyed by a single horrible administration.” That’s when I pitched the idea of Congress. At first it seemed out of the realm of possibility, but as time has gone on, she’s gotten warmer and warmer on the idea. She talks policy, both environmental and otherwise (she’s particularly passionate about universal healthcare and massive educational reform, but supports the entire progressive platform), she reads books and listens to podcasts on systemic issues she’s less familiar with and then crafts potential legislative solutions, and she scours our current representative’s voting record and history, becoming more and more disturbed every day as she finds more instances of corruption and apathy towards his constituents. If she decides to go for it (and I think she will), I have no doubts that she’ll give him a run for his money, as there is a real path to victory here in our district. She’s the real deal, and I’d say that even if she wasn’t my mom; the fact that she is just makes me all the more excited to fight like hell to get her elected.