What do you know about Sen. Wendy Davis? If all you know is that she’s running for governor, or that she’s been endorsed by Equality Texas there’s a story I want you to hear.
I was fortunate enough to lobby with Equality Texas in March.
I have met with politicians as well as their aides and staffers before, so I had expected that my meeting with Senator Davis would be no different than those meetings: I would likely speak with an over-caffeinated staff person for 2-5 minutes, leave materials for the representative to review, and bid them all a good day with my fingers crossed.
I was always told there might be a chance to speak with a legislator, but it really was just a matter of chance.
Some staffers were helpful and encouraging, others distant and inconvenienced. Rep. Stephanie Klick remained silent behind her office door as my group asked to have a moment of her time. Klick’s staffers informed us she was not available to meet, that we could leave materials with them, and they would let her know we came. It wasn’t until we turned around to leave that we noticed she had been by the door, fidgeting with her cell phone and listening to us talk to her staffers the entire time.
A little weary from our previous interactions, we headed to Senator Davis’ office with no expectations and only the knowledge that she represented Fort Worth. I saw her for the first time as she was approaching her office— or rather she saw me, catching me posing nerdily in front of the Planned Parenthood sign in front of her office.
She smiled brightly and asked, “Can I have a picture with you?”
A picture with ME? I thought, But, I’M just… me…
After being welcomed into her office and sharing our concerns, I realized I was meeting with a politician who embodied all the things I hoped a legislator would be: genuine, fair, articulate, concerned, informed, inclusive, and human.
Wendy Davis listened to our ethnically and gender diverse group, and we felt respected not only because she (not just a staffer) took the time to hear us (not all constituents), but she followed through on her word, co-authoring fully inclusive insurance non-discrimination legislation that would include trans* individuals the very next day. Even though her office is miles from my voting district, I have had a proud watchful eye on her every achievement.
She was not just a placeholder in the filibusters for education and for access to reproductive health care, she was the educated and eloquent voice for concerned Texans all over the state. By reading testimonies during her HB2 filibuster, she not only counted her supporters, she included all people she strove to serve. She created a place in which their votes and voices could be heard and showed how much they mattered. When she recounts her life story it is always told with a tone of empathy.
I know, I know, when I gush about her, it makes her sound like a superhero. She’s not, and that’s the best part—she’s human and yet has found a way to do so much to help others, some before they even know they need it.
Before I headed to my regular polling station in Houston this morning, I sat at my computer eagerly combing through my sample ballot, researching names and propositions, waiting like a child in a game for my partner to finish her sample ballot research so we could compare and debate. I am pushing through a gut infection and cold to make sure I voted early for Mayor Annise Parker, and I plan to vote in every election in the future, every chance I get.
I wasn’t always this nerdy. It took years of college, a revelation of identity intersectionality, a historical presidential election, and a diverse network of friends to become the social worker and advocate who daydreams about politics I am today.
Right now, I can see me on the ballot, both locally and at the state level. I can see people like me, like Annise Parker, like Wendy Davis fighting for LGBTQ equality, women’s rights, and education. I know the stories of people who care about and advocate for those who are most vulnerable in our society and economy. I have read stories about Texas leaders who share my values and have my best interest at heart.
Texas government ought to be a reflection of its people, not a caricature.
So, I’m going to keep doing my candidate research and always vote come hell or high water because there is no better time to act. Wendy Davis has my time, my admiration, my trust, and my vote because I know that when she votes yes or no, she’s going to consider and value all the people and issues that matter most to me.
For me, the boldest embodiment of a great reason to do everything you can to vote is Senator Wendy Davis’ campaign for governor.
-Melanie Pang, LMSW