Friday, May 17, 2013

Announcing My Decision Not to Seek Re-election

From earliest childhood, I have harbored grand ambitions, but none of them are political.
No one was more astonished than I to learn there was a place for me in politics. Ten years ago, I was as frustrated as I have ever been, home-bound with a handful of young children, too busy and too poor to pursue my dreams and stuck, as I felt at the time, in a community where I couldn’t even provide for my children’s needs. There was no playground to take them to, no park to which they could ride on their bikes, not even a safe sidewalk for a walk.
One day a kindly neighbor suggested I would be happier if I joined efforts to make a difference. I accepted his invitation to attend American Fork Neighbors in Action, and one thing led to another. We formed the Greenwood Neighbors Initiative, I got involved in the parks upgrade, joined the board of Downtown American Fork, Inc., and now, unbelievably, I find myself looking back on two terms of service on the city council.
The work has been extremely rewarding. I’ve seen the community improve and I’ve worked with caring, committed people. In eight years, with the help of dozens of volunteers and a hard-working city staff, I’ve accomplished everything I set out to do. I’ve grown personally and professionally, and now it’s time to move on.
During the next six months, when I’m not working on the final issues of my term, I’ll be launching my own business as a freelance commercial writer. I also plan to continue working as a pianist, teaching and accompanying, and I envision a more modest role for myself in public service. In particular, I will continue volunteering with the Timpanogos Symphony Orchestra and, if God is gracious, I will work to bring about a county library system.
If there’s a common thread in these plans, it’s arts and letters. This is where my true ambition lies. As I am now staring down mid-life, I’ve decided it’s time to get to work.
= = = = =
With three weeks remaining before the filing deadline (the window is June 3-7), I wish to make a special plea to American Fork’s leaders, any and all of them, to consider a bid for office.
But I will make a special pitch to women. There are three reasons why I hope a few good women will take a look at the city council.
Women Have Important Perspective
When I first ran for office, I would have been offended by any suggestion that I deserved the vote because I was a woman. I had a resume! And qualifications! However, the longer I serve, the more I appreciate that women are essential to the mix of representative government.
In saying so, I mean no disrespect to my male colleagues, who have always listened when I have led on issues pertinent to children and families. But the mere fact of our population base underscores the need for full and diverse representation. According to the 2009 census, 40 percent of American Fork’s residents are under the age of 19. The business of raising families and building homes is our community’s highest endeavor. We need mothers’ voices on our city council.
Community Service is Compatible with Motherhood
The first time I ran, I faced the decision with great trepidation. My youngest was a babe in arms, and I worried that I would miss his childhood. I resisted until the last possible minute, when I realized I would be giving up an opportunity to learn from the likes of Heber Thompson and Dale Gunther. Fifteen minutes before the deadline, I threw the baby in his car seat and raced to the recorder’s office, dragging my husband along to block any escape route.
My fears were unfounded.  City council work is highly flexible and most of it is done from the computer in the comfort of the home.  Each month, there are two required evening meetings and two required afternoon meetings. In a typical week, I attend two or three additional meetings, and the bulk of these can be calendared to fit my schedule, with the result that my piano-practicing, chore-doing, home-working children see far more of me than they wish to.
Public Service Will Bless the Family
As a family, we have learned that support is a two-way street. My husband has been a constant and reliable support, and my kids see this. They also see that, even as Mom supports the kids in all they do, they, in turn, must support Mom. My children have achieved greater development by taking on additional responsibilities, including cooking the occasional evening meal, babysitting each other, and giving homework help when I’m not home. This has been beautiful to watch.
My public service has also opened up meaningful opportunities for my children. I hoped they would learn through my example not only to value community service, but also to look for opportunities and persist through challenges. It was extremely gratifying to watch my daughter choose to serve first on the youth city council, then as youth mayor, and to watch my son volunteer with the American Fork Police Department, cleaning up nuisance violations under the authority of a law I helped to pass.
But the most meaningful blessing is the ability to see that, working together with my colleagues and my many good neighbors, I have indeed made American Fork a better place for my children. It’s not just the parks, or the sidewalks, or the books in the library. It’s also the financial security that comes from enacting long-range plans and the peace of mind that comes from seeing the City, its public works, its administration, and its public safety held securely in good hands.


Blogger Don Mayhew said...

Heidi, I think that your constituents are losing a strong public servant. I appreciate your perspective and your service. Best wishes on your future projects, and I hope voters follow your advice on choosing your successor.

May 22, 2013 at 9:01 PM  

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