"I think my experience growing up in poverty is valuable to bring to the table. Growing up in a large family and being one of the eldest siblings has taught me a tremendous amount about communication, mediation, conflict resolution, and event planning. Sometimes we don't think about those professional skills that can come from families, but my family definitely prepared me for this role of service. My experience as a social worker also helped me develop my active listening and reflection skills, and I’m more self-aware, which I think are invaluable to any public servant. I didn’t necessarily see those before as a skill set elected officials had, but by being in this role I do think they can help us move forward in an inclusive way."
"One obstacle for me was really myself. I grew up in a Peruvian household in the California Bay Area with very loud and vivacious personalities and have always thought this was very similar to me, but [during the campaign] I started to recognize how much of an introvert I really am. I was hesitant during a lot in interviews, at the door canvassing, and on fundraising calls. The feedback I received helped me realize that it is important to know that my voice does matter and it’s great to share the ideas that I have. It’s helpful to know your own response and how you handle different settings. I had to overcome the anxiety that I had internalized, along with many generations of people, that “I’m not good enough, you’re not going to be able to do this, why are you here?” talk."
"I had been exposed to the world of public education and education policies before, so I had very fair expectations of the level of conflict and the level of passion that drives people in these spaces. But at the same time, because I’m a mother and because I'm at a phase in my professional career where I've amassed a certain level of expertise, attention to detail, and a very critical eye, I'm able to confidently step into these spaces and call out what and who needs to be called out."
"After maybe nine months of campaigning rigorously, it was just very difficult to make sure that I was taking care of myself mentally. Now that I think back, and if I run again for re-election, there are so many things that I will do differently to make sure that I’m taking care of myself, and unplugging and de-stressing as often as possible."
"Where there isn’t information, find similar situations to get the information. I look at Black businesswomen of color and what they have achieved. I look at Barbara Jordan and Shirley Chisholm, Kamala Harris, and Shirley Franklin when she became the Mayor of Atlanta. Sometimes you have to build your own book and teach yourself. If you can’t find someone who has done exactly what you want to do, find someone who has done something like what you want to do and see what you can learn from them as well."
"I say to people often, please don’t let the concern or fear that you won’t be able to raise money stop you from running for office. Those who are running for state office are often told, for State Rep. at least, that you need to raise about $100,000. Well, we raised about $31,000 so it can happen when you put in that grassroots effort. It is seen as a barrier, and I think that’s in part because these political consultants have made us think this way. Even our political parties are giving us this rhetoric that says you can’t do it if you don’t have the money because they’ve moved so far away from the grassroots."
"When we sent out our first mailer, we had someone rip it up and mail it back to us with no return address having written, “Go back to your country. No more Muslims. No more Arabs” on the mailer. Even a neighbor down the street from my house...I knocked on his door while canvassing and told him I was running for office and when I said my name his response was, “I’m disgusted that you’re my neighbor. Get out of here.”
"The big lesson for me is that people want to be part of something bigger, and if you understand that, you will realize that your potential donor pool is a lot bigger than you would think initially. The people who will be there for you are your family, your friends, college roommates, and coworkers from all the jobs you’ve ever had. If you’ve made some effort to maintain those relationships, you should ask them for financial and volunteer support because people want to be a part of something greater than themselves. I learned through two years of consecutive campaigns and leaning on the same people, that it was friends and family who came out to help me win."
"When I decided to run, these were some of the same people saying that I was too young. So from a relationships standpoint, if I had known that my running wasn’t dependent on those people, if I was doing it for the right reason, I wouldn’t have been so emotionally drained throughout the process. As a young person, and someone who respects her elders, you look to them for support and affirmation, and when they’re not there you’re perplexed and don’t understand why. But they have come along."
"In the first campaign I thought it was important for someone seeking a job to essentially show that I had what it takes to fulfill that job, so I was trying to show that I had the policy chops and I spent a lot of time developing a very strong policy platform. What I realized is that people don’t get into the weeds…they want to know that you can handle the job. In a natural shyness, I’m not tremendously comfortable talking about myself, but my wife advised me during the second campaign that I should talk more about who I am and why I’m running."
"People tell you what they think and you have to decide if it’s fair or not. It’s a godsend that people feel like they can come up and talk to me. I have a lot to do all the time, but your community is not going to get better if you act like it’s not your responsibility too."
"At the very beginning, I did my own website. I never made a website in my life, but I went to Wix, took pictures, and set up the platform. I knew the one thing going for me, and against me at the same time, was that I was young and I hadn't been involved in politics, so I wanted to look like I knew what I was doing! I wanted to start off professional and legit. Once I announced, I could refer people to my website and my social media pages, which got the buzz started. From there, people knew enough about me to feel comfortable signing the petition."