Last week I attended two candidate forums. One was at Treasure Valley Baptist Church, attended primarily by Republicans. The other was at Boise State, attended primarily by Democrats. They were very different, and I learned a lot from each.
I was a little worried about the Treasure Valley Baptist event -- Daniel entering the lions' den, as it were -- but their invitation assured me that everyone would be treated respectfully, and we were. Many church officials made a point of shaking my hand and telling me how glad they were I was there. We all got the same badges, the same gifts, women got the same corsages, and we were all placed at identical tables equitably in the gym.
Besides, there was pie. :) Apple, of course.
I met and talked with a number of people from my district, most of them accompanied by their children, and we had interesting, in-depth conversations on issues. Needless to say, education was a big one, and as the mother of a school-age child, that's a big issue for me, too.
The Boise State event, sponsored by a number of nonprofit organizations in the Valley, was more formal, with submitted questions by the sponsors that we answered. My opponent, who did attend the Treasure Valley Baptist event, was listed in the program as attending, but he didn't show up.
I was disappointed that my opponent chose not to attend. I'm sure it might have been challenging for him to attend an event with predominantly Democrats. On the other hand, I was willing to attend an event with predominantly Republicans, because I know that as a Representative, I *represent* everyone in my district, not just the people with whom I feel the most affinity, and it's important for me to learn everyone's views, not just the ones I already know. I wasn't afraid of the challenge, but looked at it as an opportunity.
What does that tell you about my candidacy? And about the kind of legislator I'll be?
Meanwhile, I'm hearing interesting stories in my district, like the people who were discussing my opponent and expressing concern about the overly conservative, religious-based legislation they thought he would enact. One of my supporters told them they could vote for me, and they responded, oh, yes, we're already planning to. Moreover, at least one of them was a lifelong Republican.
Yesterday was candidates' day at the Kuna Farmers Market (where my opponent also did not show up), and I had one of those experiences I like so much, when someone asks whether I'm a Republican and I say, actually, I'm a Democrat, and they exclaim, "Oh, thank God!" I'm getting more and more of these.