By Reba Phelps
23 Things I Learned While Campaigning For Office:
1.) Walking into David O. Stamey’s office for a reason other than printing yet another birth certificate replacing the many ones I have lost, proved to be the scariest day of my adult life.
2.) Deciding which one of my Government names to put on an official ballot was just as confusing as the day I graduated high school. When they announced the name, “Jennifer Rebecca Reba Procell,” everyone looked around, including me. This does not include the many nicknames accumulated over the years.
3.) People instantly question your sanity once you announce wanting to serve in a public office.
4.) Being a self professed talk-a-holic I found myself absolutely speechless when it came to asking someone for their support.
5.) It is the most humbling experience to ask for someone’s vote and have them say “no” right to your smiling innocent face. This only happened twice, every other person I met said they were voting for me and I completely believed them.
6.) My predecessor told me to be prepared because I would probably lose 25 pounds or more walking all of the neighborhoods. This was not the case. People fed me. People fed me a lot.
7.) Running for office opens you up to a whole new set of automated calls, junk mail and live telemarketers wanting to sell you anything from a political sign to logo underwear with your face proudly printed on them.
8.) Three months of campaigning seemed to last forever. Not to be too dramatic but this is clearly 21 months in dog months.
9.) There were days when I questioned my own sanity for running for office.
10.) There were some days when I needed a pep talk and a glass of wine. Or three.
11.) I thoroughly enjoyed watching my friends argue over who was going to be in my cabinet. This never got old. According to them, I have a Marketing Director, Surgeon General, FBI Director and still looking for an Attorney General.
12.) While campaigning, I made a promise to myself to always tell the truth and not just what people wanted to hear.
13.) To the sweet person who pledged their support if I promised to fix the roads in our parish…. I just couldn’t lie about it. School Board doesn’t have asphalt. I am so sorry.
14.) People can be so incredibly kind. There are so many good people in our parish.
15.) I met hundreds of people that I have never in my life seen or met before. It was the lottery jack pot of a “people persons” dream.
16.) I have always been a praying person but campaign prayers doubled my prayer life.
17.) If you run for office and need a sounding board or people reader. Come get my 12 year old. When we left houses she would tell me if they liked me or not. She took great joy in telling me, “I am pretty sure you interrupted their dinner and they hate you!”
18.) When I purchased my voter list for my district it truly hurt my heart to see that so many people have never voted or haven’t in many years.
19.) God put so many wonderful friends in my path to help me every step of the way. I was never short of God’s blessings during this whole process.
20.) I learned that you can still put God first in campaigning.
21.) People say once you get elected you have enemies for no apparent reason. This is not the case. I have had more random support and excitement over the school board changes than you could ever imagine.
22.) Once elected, the first piece of mail received that says, “Honorable Reba Phelps,” totally felt like a typo. “Servant” would be a far more humble title.
23.) I learned that you can stay true to your spiritual roots and true to yourself while running a campaign, being a single mother and working full time.
Campaigning was truly a life altering experience for me and my family. There were so many spiritual lessons learned along the way that helped me grow as a person and I feel like God put people in my path that possibly learned something from me. I truly look forward to serving the community in a deeper capacity.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, Rather, in humility value others above yourself.”