Michael’s Holiday Update

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As many of you know I have been hitting the campaign trail pretty hard, going door-to-door to meet the voters of my district. It can be a grueling and sometimes lonely process, but the stories that I have collected throughout the journey make it worthwhile. The snow hit us pretty hard this week, which threw a new wrinkle in the mix, but it’s against the backdrop of a blustery winter evening that I share this anecdote that helped keep bring things into perspective this holiday season.

It was approaching 6 p.m., which in Indiana means that it would soon be so dark that it may as well have been approaching midnight. I had decided to walk the Canterbury Green Apartments that evening because the layout allowed for brief moments of safe-haven from the cold as eight apartments shared a common foyer and stairwell.

It had begun as a usual evening with the normal exchanges of pleasantries between strangers. After knocking on the next door I could tell the encounter would be a bit different when a pleasant, middle-aged woman stepped out of her apartment into the foyer to begin a discussion with me.

She first asked whether I would be like “the rest of them” – making campaign promises to the people but abandoning them as soon as I got into office. This wasn’t the first time that I had received the question, and it certainly wouldn’t be the last. I responded the way I usually do: my campaign isn’t about making promises, and it certainly isn’t about breaking them. It’s about proving to people that I’m the best person for the job; meeting them personally to understand their issues, and opening the lines of communication with the people that I intend to represent. After all, you can’t represent people if you haven’t taken the time to meet with and listen to them.

What happened next is something that I will never forget. “I’d like you to meet my neighbors too,” she said as she proceeded to knock on the adjacent doors on her floor. Moments later we were joined in the foyer by two women – one a retiree and the other a young mother with two small children nipping at her heels demanding that she come back inside to play after her long day of work. Without knowing otherwise, one might confuse these women for family: grandmother, mother and daughter. But I knew differently. These were neighbors, who happened to find themselves living in close proximity, each in very different phases of her life.

It was quickly apparent that it was not uncommon for these women to meet and chat about their lives. That night’s conversation just happened to include a young, aspiring legislator available and willing to listen to their issues. They discussed healthcare. From overpaying for benefits that they don’t need, to struggling to find a plan to replace their lost coverage, each had her own specific, yet different, concerns. We talked about education, the economy and the direction of our community and politics in general. Despite their differences, there was clearly common ground among them in their everyday struggles, and in the blessings of friendship and family that they shared.

This conversation may have only lasted 30 minutes, but I will remember it forever. I may be thirty years removed from that familiar life, living in a small apartment with my mom and brother. But on that cold winter night in December, it was a nice reminder of the blessings of friends and family that I have, and why I chose to run for political office – to make a difference in this community that we all call home.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!