My wife Katie writes a weekly newsletter for our farm, Oakhill Organics. Last Wednesday, she wrote about my choice to file for Yamhill County Commissioner. Here is a slightly edited version of what she wrote up, which I think provides insight into why we made this choice together (I am running, but it takes a whole family to commit to this kind of endeavor!). In Katie’s words:
“I imagine people are wondering why he’s running, and I think that story is an appropriate one for our blog since we tell our personal stories here as well as farm stories. Over the last 12+ years, Casey and I have both grown keenly aware of exactly how the daily lives of individuals are affected by political decisions. As rural residents of Yamhill County, we’ve paid close attention to the land-use process that determines some Big Things about life out here: who are neighbors are, what they do, who gets access to what opportunities. But we’ve also paid attention to how elected officials set the tone for how communities interact — is there a model of integrity and respect for everyone to follow?
“I have to admit that about eight years ago, we felt fairly jaded about much of the political process. At the time, it felt like these Big Things were so out of our hands. We could submit testimony at the capitol or the planning department, and we could vote, but it didn’t feel like those things added up to much. But more recently, we’ve realized that if we feel passionately about the community we live in — the place and the people who inhabit it — then, we have to persist with our efforts. We have to keep caring and keep communicating about the values we want to see in place.
“Even more recently, we’ve realized that our country as a whole is at the beginning of what will be a profound generational shift as so-called Baby Boomers retire from the workplace and civic life over the next 5-20 years. If there is to be any kind of smooth continuity, we realized that we cannot wait to be more directly involved in the political process — it is time now for younger generations to start stepping up, to work with the older generations for the next two decades. The older generations have hugely shaped our country and its agenda; they have experience in how the processes work or don’t work. Meanwhile, the younger generations have different perspectives to bring into the political process. So called Gen-Xers and Millennials came of age in a different world and will be living in this world for many decades to come. They are raising children in our community and are searching for solutions that will carry their children into a truly unknowable future. It seems like bringing these older and younger generations together now is critical to finding our way. Which will require Gen-Xers and Millennials to step up in a major way.
“Which they are. Casey is part of a wave of people running for office this year from those younger generations (including the other two challengers for Yamhill County Commissioner positions). It is exciting to feel like we are a part of a bigger movement to bring that fresh energy into the leadership of our country and our local community. Not all of the Gen-Xers and Millennials (and record number of women) who run for office this year will be elected; but some will. And, based on what I am reading and hearing, they are bringing with them a strong desire for integrity, for positivity, for fairness. It will be an interesting year for elections around the country and here at home!”