Fundraising is hard. It is hours of phone calls, electronic messages and texts daily. It is contacting and recontacting your family, friends and acquaintances with the hopes of raising enough money to be competitive in the election. It is a grueling upward climb with success measured by increments of $10 to $250. It is how advisors, media and political consultants measure the reach of your message and ultimately your viability.
When I first decided to run, I was naive to the amount of money needed to win a successful campaign for Seattle City Council. I never guessed that the average winning campaign across the 9 districts was approximately $215,000. TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS. I was astonished by this amount of money. This is almost 4 times the average national household median income of $57,000.
How do you raise this amount of money? According to the National Democratic Training Committee, you simply ask. I asked and I asked. I continued to ask. I raised $8,000 in $10 to $250 increments over two weeks and I learned several things:
- People are generous. They willingly donate their hard earned wages to show you that they believe you, trust you and love you. You are happy.
- Although $10 is less than the cost of a movie, it is still a significant amount of money for several of your close friends. You are sad.
- A significant number of my friends are living at the poverty line. They express their support but tell you they are struggling with managing multiple jobs, increasing rents, perpetual debt and fatigue. You are broken.
- Asking for help and money requires humility, gratitude and listening. You are changed.
- Life is challenging. Your friends are living with homelessness, family deaths, job deadlines, ailing parents and heartache. You are supportive.
I look at the $8,000 and I feel the weight of this money. It is the wages from my friends who struggle to make art and financially sustain themselves in an increasingly expensive city. It is a choice to believe in me and forego themselves. It is the hope that I will honor my campaign platform and work to create a better Seattle for us. I must assure this money is not wasted. I make this promise to myself, my team and to you.
I plan to run a campaign where I value your money and its meaning. We will not waste money on environmentally expensive mailers which are trashed within moments of entering your home. We will not spend money hiring political consultants who charge $5000 per month for fundraising and accounting. We will not buy expensive television advertisements that disparage my opponents. Despite not running a typical campaign, we will still win.
We will win because we believe that Seattle residents deserve city wide health care and affordable housing. We will win because we believe that cultural, economic and racial diversity is important to preserve. We will win because 400 people chose to donate at least $10 and sign the Democracy Voucher Petition to access public funds to support our campaign. We will win because we came together. We will win even if we don't raise $215,000.