Qualified newcomers strengthen our democracy. We need more of them.
In the California primaries held on Tuesday, there were dozens, if not hundreds, of first-time candidates on ballots across the State. Many were qualified candidates who ran for the right reasons – they were concerned about the quality of life and governance in their communities and in our State. They ran to make a difference.
We should celebrate these qualified and well-intentioned newcomers. Such candidates are vital to a functioning representative democracy. Even if they do not win, they serve the public good by focusing voter attention on key issues and subjecting the positions of other candidates to scrutiny. This is essential to holding our elected officials accountable. In addition, newcomers can force established candidates to modify their positions to appeal to a broader section of the electorate. Lastly, these new voices often interject important issues into an election that would have otherwise been ignored. For all these reasons, and for the many sacrifices they undoubtedly made, I say “thank you” to the qualified and well-intentioned first-time candidates who ran for office in California on Tuesday.
And I want to thank one first-time candidate in particular – Jennifer Christensen – who ran a strong, but unsuccessful, campaign for the Board of Supervisors in Santa Barbara County. Jennifer is precisely the type of person the 2040 Matters community should want running for public office: a public finance professional with a JD and an MBA who ran because she was concerned that our County is on an unsustainable financial path that threatens the quality of life we increasingly take for granted. Even though she lost, she shined a spotlight on this critical issue and spurred a sharp increase in civic engagement. For this, I am grateful.
I hope her effort encourages others like her to step forward and run for office in the future. With a growing list of challenges to be faced by our children, we need more highly-qualified and well-intentioned citizens to pick up the torch for future generations and run for office. If you know someone who fits this description, please encourage them to run.