Originally published to Facebook on June 22, 2017.
Yesterday, a new Mayor and City Council were inaugurated at the Arneson River Theater. In high school, I played that venue with the Central Catholic jazz band, but I was not onstage last night. So this morning feels like the appropriate time to say thank you to all of the friends, family, and supporters who saw me through the last few months, and to urge you to continue your own work for a more responsive, innovative, and inclusive District 1.
Your efforts to elect me were monumental, and my gratitude is of equal measure. I will forever be grateful to all those who stuck out their necks for me, to all those who donated to my campaign, and to all those who spent countless hours canvassing and calling their neighbors. From the bottom of my heart and with all of my being—thank you.
This was a remarkable campaign, built entirely outside the traditional power structures of San Antonio and outside the architectures of exclusion upon which they rely. We did not ask permission, we do not wait our turn, we did not kowtow. Instead we worked, marching through District 1 day after day, listening to voters and talking about public policy. Piercing heat, torrential rain, slanderous opposition—nothing stopped us, nothing deterred us, nothing compelled us to yield. And nothing ever will.
Even though we came up a little short on election day, the movement you and I built over the last few months has permanently changed District 1 politics by showing that everyday folks can make a difference if only they will band together. As has been said, ‘there is a considerable difference between a mass of people and a mass of people determined to act together.’ Achieving the promise of our local democracy depends entirely on us continuing to act together.
Going forward, my hopes are threefold: first, that the people and the powers-that-be now have a shared perception of the situation in District 1 and of the proper relations between our government and its rightful owners—you, the residents; second, that the newly re-elected councilman will change his behavior to demonstrate his understanding that nearly half of the voters preferred a very different approach to leadership—leadership as you and I view it, leadership that begins with listening; third, and most important, that the people of District 1 themselves continue to assert their own power, accepting the promise of self-organization and their right to a real say in how our neighborhoods evolve.
By contrast, my fear is singular: that this moment slips away and that we fall back into the comfortable despair Emerson touched upon when he said that “we but half express ourselves, and are ashamed of that divine idea which each of us represents.” This campaign was not about me. This campaign was about you. So while I say thank you to everyone who gave of themselves for this cause, I leave you with a question: what are you going to do next?
If you share my vision for responsive, innovative, and inclusive government, do not be ashamed of the righteous indignation you feel when you are ignored, let down, or mistreated by your government and most especially by your elected officials. Instead, take action. Turn off your computer, go out and knock on your neighbors’ doors, pick a cause, then march down to City Hall and demand change together. Or pick whatever tactics you think will be most effective.
But one thing is certain—as Audrey Lorde said, “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master's house.” So as you go about your mission—whether it’s responsible development, open data, senior nutrition, civil rights, or something as simple as fixing a sidewalk so your grandma isn't endangered every time she leaves her house—think beyond the status quo, think beyond what others tell you is possible, and remember that you have within you a divine idea. It is the reason you deserve a voice and you must speak up.
I had hoped to be your megaphone. One hundred and seventy-four voters produced a different result. Nonetheless, I thank you. I thank you for raising your voice. I thank you for joining me on the road to a more democratic District 1 and a smarter San Antonio. And I invite you to keep putting one foot in front of the other. This is a path we only make by walking. So let's stay in touch. The journey has only just begun.