Everything you’ve heard about campaigns is correct: they are tough, they bring out the best in people and success takes you applying everything you’ve learned in life.
By far the most frequently asked question I get has nothing to do with policy, but rather, just how the campaign is going. Many of my friends, family, colleagues and new supporters are literally running this race with me. We all want to win. We all want to send a message to the United States Congress by sending an Independent to represent us. We all have a role to play in this campaign; some of us are activists, some are campaign volunteers, some of us are personal supporters and one of us is the candidate. That’s the role I signed up for and I am very happy I did.
SO HOW IS THE CAMPAIGN GOING?
The campaign is going great! There has been drama but I suppose that’s also part of the “everything you’ve heard about campaigns” being correct. This was a redistricting year meaning it’s the first election after the once every 10 years census. After each census the political lines that draw in the cities, counties and neighborhoods of Congressional Districts change. Dramatically this campaign year, the new lines weren’t finalized until just before April. Yup, just a few weeks ago.
This past February 8th, the U.S. District Court made a decision that took away the requirement which allowed only residents of the Congressional District to be petition “Circulators.” What this means now is that any Virginia resident who is 18 years old and has not committed a felony can collect signatures on our campaign’s behalf. Would you like to help our campaign collect signatures? Click this sentence for the instructions and the new form.
Collecting signatures to get on the ballot has been interesting for one of my potential opponents. All candidates for U.S. Congress in Virginia need to collect 1,000 signatures to get on the ballot. Independent campaigns like ours have until June 12th to submit signatures. Candidates who are running as Democrats or Republicans had to submit their signatures by March 29th. This week, one of our opponents had to file a lawsuit to get on the ballot! He eventually did get on the ballot but held a press conference on the steps of Alexandria’s City Hall to describe his experience. Wow! I came by to shake his hand, out of respect for his right to get on the ballot. Click the picture to the right for a link to the article.
SOME OF THE BEST PARTS
The best parts about campaigning so far have been the people I’ve met and listening to the causes they support. As soon as you start campaigning – in case there was any doubt – you learn quickly that the campaign is about something much bigger than yourself. I told my supporters early on that candidates come and go but our cause to right our country’s “ship,” is an ongoing civic duty. Most of the people I meet share some of their greatest concerns: the U.S. debt, the bitterness in Washington and the seeming inability for politicians to get anything done. Generally people are tired of the persistent, party politics and they are happy to meet an Independent candidate. These same people also share with me the things that are most important to them.
Sharing an important experience with people who truly care about others is inspiring. On Good Friday I was invited to visit Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Arlington which hosted congregations and church members from over 5 other local churches. This is an annual tradition that fills the sanctuary beginning at high noon. The room was filled not only with people, song, but most certainly the spirit of the Easter season. It was a wonderful event.
Every time my lovely wife Jennifer and I host a campaign meeting, we leave the event more motivated and more resolute about the cause to replace 21 years of incumbency with 21st century, innovative thinking. Our volunteers are made up of former co-workers, business networking colleagues, Toastmaster Club members, ALPFA members and members of the community who are making change happen in their own way and want to see politics reflect their interests.
Just yesterday, Thursday, I had the opportunity to attend an open house at Alternative House in Vienna. Most people don’t consider Fairfax County to be a place where children need to escape poverty or violence. Fairfax County is where I attended one of the finest high schools in the country and also George Mason University: US News and World Reports 2nd best Up-and-Coming University. Yet even in Fairfax County there are children who need temporary assistance and the Alternative House provides it in many ways. One of my good friends and campaign supporters invited me to an open house where I was introduced to programs that help teens “break the cycle of poverty and violence.” As the Executive Director with 15 years of service put it, “We try to make life a little more fair [for the teens].” The Alternative House is the only shelter for kids in Northern Virginia, yet they only have 8 beds. Running for office reinforces the importance of tackling challenges sometimes silently fought by people all around us; even in Fairfax County. There are so many important things that people are working on and government can help to facilitate their success. It’s a reminder to partisan folks that politics is serious and compassion is necessary.
WHAT ARE WE UP TO NEXT?
We are going to keep working to introduce my candidacy to those who are looking for an alternative to Democrats and Republicans. I know that what’s I am looking for and last year’s debt crisis proved that it’s time for our generation to step forward. There are petitions to be signed, neighbors to engage and media to be earned. We will do what we have to do so that over the next few months we earn the vote of confidence from people throughout the 8th Congressional District of Virginia. Would you like to follow our campaign? You can keep up with us on our SCHEDULE PAGE. We’ll keep that page updated with where we’re going and where you can find me in particular.
My thanks to all of you who continue to ask about the campaign and lend your support. And my dear wife Jennifer, thank you of course for everything, every day.
ABOUT JASON HOWELL
Jason Howell is an Independent candidate for Congress. He has lived in Northern Virginia for 25 years, worked in private industry for 20 years and has spent 0 years as a politician. He is running to represent Virginia’s 8th Congressional district as a fiscally responsible, socially reasonable and domestically focused elected official. Virginia’s 8th District is proposed to cover all of Arlington County, City of Alexandria, City of Falls Church, Fort Belvoir, Lorton and parts of Mclean. For more, see www.VoteJasonHowell.com