Knocking doors, taking names

Every day, a 15- passenger van carried us into the dregs of single family suburbia.  Each of us were armed with two bottles of water, campaign lit and a list of doors to be knocked that day. 5 hours later, sweaty, hungry and exhausted, the van returned, rescuing us from this canvasser misery.  It was a pretty awful existence BUT FOR the camaraderie.  Anyone who has worked on a political campaign can resonate with the awesomeness of being a part of a team galvanizing around a short- term goal with the objective of winning.

 It was my first job after graduating from UT.  I was part of a big canvassing team mostly made up of fellow college grads, some of whom remain friends today.  Looking back at the campaigns I’ve worked on over the last two decades, none of them quite compare, probably because it was my first, it was well funded and well run (this was Mark Warner’s race for governor of Virginia in 2001), and we won.  

Yesterday, I briefly revisited the good ol’ days of knocking doors with my friend Leya Simmons.  Leya’s running for school board in Eanes ISD, the school district just west of Austin.  Leya and I met on a yoga community board and have become friends and co-conspirators.  She is one of the angels in my life who hopped on the Citizen Discourse train early, early on (before there was a train to hop on). Leya’s a mom of five and her oldest and his friends were CD’s first high school ambassadors. 


As scary and vulnerable as it has felt at times to put my ideas out there it’s got to feel that and more to put yourself out there and jump into a race.  Raising money for your own candidacy, hearing strangers question your qualifications to run has all got to be vulnerable. Brene’ would be proud.
This morning I reached out to Leya in hopes she’d answer a couple of questions that I could include in this post. Not so surprisingly, I caught Leya walking into University High School where she’s a volunteer.  UHS is an Austin-based school specifically designed for high school students recovering from the disease of addiction. Leya has her own story to tell and her involvement with and support of UHS is something that she speaks about with lots of passion.   

I hope that tributing this post to Leya would show her some love and maybe even garner a couple votes.  

Karen:  Why did you decide to run?

Leya: I decided to run because I want to be a voice at the District level and I didn’t see my perspective or experience reflected in our current board.  I am amazed by so many things about Eanes schools but there are definitely things that I would like to see addressed such as inclusivity culture, safety and tech. 

Karen:  Share something about you that gives you unique perspective to kill at this gig.

Leya:  My oldest son graduated last year and my youngest will enter kindergarten in 2 years so I have a vested interest in working to make real, long term impact. 

 Karen:  Say you’re about to deal with a stressful situation, what’s one of the mindful tools you use that works for you?

Leya: I meditate and do yoga.  Lots and lots of yoga.  My favorite pose is triangle and my favorite calming or centering pose is rag doll or headstand.  You can catch me doing these poses when I teach yoga at Hill Country Middle School FitFest.


 The election is on May 4th and early voting is going on now. Less than 10% of registered voters traditionally turn out for a school board race in Eanes. That amounts to just about 6,000 votes. If you are a Westlake resident please turn out! Support Leya’s campaign while you’re at it!

Karen GrossComment