Want to run for office? Recent winner, Monica Taylor, shares what she learned
5 Qs with Monica Taylor
WINNER, Democratic Seat for Upper Darby School Board
Moving Philly Forward was proud to support Monica Taylor in her recent campaign for Upper Darby School Board. Monica fought hard for a seat in a traditionally Republican district — and she won. Not surprisingly, she learned a lot along the way. We asked Monica to impart some lessons from her winning campaign. Hopefully, her insights can help people just like you to run for office and get more involved in local politics.
Why did you decide to run for office?
A: As it did for many, last year’s election changed things for me. So when President Obama in his farewell address said, “If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard … and run for office yourself,” those words spoke to me. I looked within the local political landscape for where I could make myself most useful. I realized that public education is where I can make the largest immediate impact. Public education is under attack at both the state and federal level. Money is being funneled towards charter schools and vouchers which leave public schools at a disadvantage. This ultimately leaves underserved populations in school districts that are underfunded and ill-prepared to educate them.
In Pennsylvania we are ranked 47th out of 50 in the amount that our state pays for public education. Additionally, there is a clear inequity in the funding of our schools. Schools who need the funding the most are receiving less and struggling to survive. I have 2 daughters and I want to help ensure that the schools in our district are providing a high quality public education for them and for all learners.
What is school board and why is it important?
A: The job of a school board director includes hiring and evaluating the district superintendent, adoption and oversight of the annual budget, managing the collective bargaining agreements for employees of the district, and setting the vision and goals of the district. The school board is important because it acts as a watchdog for the community to make sure that the school district to ensure it is running properly.
What was the craziest thing you learned while campaigning?
A: It’s close but I would have to say the realization that voter suppression and voter intimidation is not something of the 1950’s; it happens right here and right now. From knocking on doors to working polls on election day, I saw exactly how real and prevalent this problem is.
How can MPF members in Upper Darby help you continue your work now that the election is over?
A: MPF did so much for my campaign — from donations and fundraising to knocking doors and phone banking — they helped get me and my entire slate the win last Tuesday. From here, I would say we could use help getting better candidates elected to the state seats in the PA general Assembly in 2018. The general assembly is why our schools are underfunded and getting good candidates who care about public education into office will help make my job a lot easier.
What do people get wrong about running for office?
A: I think that there is a misconception that “grassroots” means you don’t spend or raise any money. In actuality it often means that you do spend money in order to personally contact as many voters as possible. The whole idea is to talk to voters. The more personal it can be, the better. But it costs time and money to contact voters. If your win number is 2,000 votes, then by all means go knock on every household and personally talk to every voter and don’t spend time raising a bunch of money — go “grassroots”. But if your win number is higher I suggest you start fundraising. And then figure out how you will spend that money to give you the best voter contact. Fact: Obama spent more on his first campaign then any presidential candidate before him but he made you feel like it was “grassroots.”
Inspired by Monica's insights and experiences? Ready to get more involved in making an impact in your community? Make sure to come to our next meeting on 11/29, check our our resources for connecting with your local officials, and sign up for our mailing list so you don't miss our updates on how to stay informed and get engaged.