Parenthood and Politicking

No one ever said it was going to be easy. Most responses I get when I tell people I’m running for City Council are:

‘You are nuts.’

‘This is probably not the right timing.’

‘How do you do it??’

I never expected running a campaign to be easy, nor running against a seasoned incumbent with much greater name recognition. Nor campaigning with a 6-month old babe in tow, with another 7 months left until election day. But I actually think the timing now is better than ever. It’s like having a baby: there is no such thing as the ideal time. It is an exciting time to be in Edmonton, to potentially work with a new Council on forward-thinking projects to impact our city. I have made a conscious choice to run for office during my maternity leave, which offers a chance to redefine what it means to balance work and life.

Yes, it is a great time to run for Council. In fact, every day I look at my daughter and remind myself that she is the main reason why I am running: to positively influence the city for the next generation. Children and their families - young families, grandparents, etc. - need a voice in the building of our communities. I want to help bring that voice forward on the Council.

ParenthoodPoliticking_KerenTang.jpgNot only is my baby a stark reminder of why I am doing what I’m doing, but she has made me appreciate life differently and is constantly testing my understanding of inclusion. Taking her out for a stroll in my neighbourhood has made me distinctly experience the inaccessibility of some street designs for mothers with strollers and those using wheelchairs. I have also learned which spaces in the city, be it restaurants, stores, or public forums, are the most child- and family-friendly. These new perspectives have challenged my thinking around community-building and urban planning.

My child has become a major part of my campaign life. I often bring my baby with me to meetings and gatherings, redefining what is normal when it comes to political campaigning. Thanks to her, I get to know people on a different, personal level. She rarely fusses, and when she does uncontrollably, we make for a quick exit. I strategically pick activities and projects, especially those that are child- and family-friendly, and plan around naptimes. Every night after she falls asleep, I am back on my computer, responding to emails and scheduling meetings and events. I was good at time management before having a baby, but now I’m even better because every minute counts.

In figuring out how to ‘do it all,’ I am most grateful for a super dad and husband supporting me. With his flexible schedule, Zack shares the baby duty while finishing his MBA degree and starting a company.

We are all making it work. And so far, it’s actually kind of fun. Campaigning is an educational experience for both me and my baby, who is being exposed to a variety of people, rich conversations, and interesting places, bringing our ‘getting to know others' to a whole new level.