I moved to Santa Barbara from Washington, D.C., because I had given up on my hope that our national political system could improve our personal lives. Twenty-five years in the Capitol does that. You might have seen my D.C. weekend home in the movie Wedding Crashers? The house had a long history in national politics, beginning with President Dwight Eisenhower who used the home to entertain international leaders. There I hosted senators, congressmembers, the Speaker of the House, the Senate Majority Leader, and even the Vice-President of the United States.
In Washington, D.C., I had learned that politicians advocate for those who offered the most campaign dollars to their campaigns. After two decades of having a front-row seat to national politics, I stopped voting in elections. I didn’t see anyone I thought could actually make a difference.
Thus, when I moved to Santa Barbara to live near my mom, I was happy to leave our national political scene behind. I was inadvertently introduced to our local political system while attending fundraisers for Santa Barbara nonprofits. At each event, Mayor Helene Schneider was there speaking for those in our community who might not be experiencing the paradise the rest of us have found here.
Helene Schneider is exactly the person we need in Congress to represent us in the 24th District. Helene effectively manages the City of Santa Barbara as mayor and utilizes the system to work efficiently for the people whom she represents. Helene is not focused on courting big campaign donors to get votes. Instead Helene has always spent her time focusing on what she thinks is right. Fresh, determined, incorruptible voices like Helene’s are our only hope to break the current entrenched gridlock in Washington.
Last week on March 8 there was global recognition of International Women’s Day. For more than a decade I have worked globally to promote leadership skills in women, developing programs for the Clinton Global Initiative, Harvard University’s Women’s Leadership Board, the U.S. State Department, the governments of China, Mexico, and many others. I founded the Women Ambassadors’ Roundtable for those who are posted to the United States and for U.S. women who have been ambassadors abroad.
Here in my hometown of Santa Barbara, I can’t think of any better way to honor and celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievement of women than to publicly voice my support for Helene Schneider’s campaign to be our next Congressmember — and to encourage you to do the same!
Helene embodies a lifetime working for the equity of women. She is a shining example of a woman in a leadership position who has enabled us all to prosper. She is active in securing access to safe health care, promotes equal pay for equal work, supports sensible policies to keep our community safe, works to protect the environment, and continues to lead on water conservation and supply issues during the drought. Helene is personally and professionally responsible, dynamic, and smart.
But more than her support for women, I support Helene because she is someone who will always have the guts to stand up for what is right. Helene cares about creating a paradise for all of us — not just those who can easily pay for it.
So I ask you to get out your calendar and mark voting day. Take a half hour to vote. Be glad that for your voice to be heard in D.C., you don’t have to move there! Thank you, Helene, for your willingness to do so, so the rest of us can stay here in paradise.