Cassie Patterson

Running for office is something I have wanted to do most of my life. Being born in early November has led to my birthday falling on or around election day every year. The first time I remember the presidential election falling on my birthday was in 1996. Bill Clinton ran against Bob Dole that year. I decided to talk to my best friend about it at school. Her parents were voting for Clinton because they feared welfare would be taken away under Dole. After school that day, I brought it up to my parents and we talked about it. Dole lost but I found something in myself.

I stuck with the conservative ideals I’d been raised with, but during my early 20s realized that some of my parents’ beliefs didn’t fit with my worldview. 2015 was the first year I paid any attention to local politics and how dire the situation in Moab had become. As far as 2016 goes, my passion was an inferno. At caucus night, I volunteered to be a precinct chair for my local party. Days later, I contacted party leadership about running in the next election.

Many questions arose when I informed my mom of my plan to run. She was reluctant, not wanting me to be subject to rumors and concerned about the cost. None of that mattered: I found my calling and nothing was going to get in my way. Mom knew and supported me, despite her reservations. That was the first warning sign I should’ve taken note of, but I am outstanding at ignoring reason when I’m on a mission. My next step was helping organize the party’s annual fundraising dinner. Just days prior, I officially filed my paperwork to become a candidate. The whole night I really felt a sense of belonging which further proved to me that I was doing what I had been put on this earth for.

Then the real fun began. My first invitation to a campaign event came in – the League of Women Voters invited us to the farmers market for a meet and greet. Since it took place in July and one city council candidate had already dropped out, resulting in us not having a primary, I came unprepared. It was disheartening to me that answering even the most basic inquiry came with such difficulty. Thankfully, only one person asked anything important.

One week after the primary, my uncle committed suicide. I was devastated. On the financial front, I attempted to solicit donations which often resulted in failure. One person I spoke with told me, frankly, that as a single mother it was more important for me to be with my children than to be on the council. Once again, the panic of my campaign’s failing left me feeling so down I nearly dropped out. Losing my uncle and then being dealt that blow felt insurmountable.

When it came time for the LWV forum, I was a mess. I had spent the day going over the questions we were supplied with and I still felt unprepared. Trying to answer without reading off my notes proved impossible and several times I felt myself freezing up midsentence. There I was, standing in front of a crowd of voters, internally screaming at myself to just keep talking. That was it, I was finished. My campaign was over and there was no way anyone would vote for me. I spent the rest of the night mentally tearing myself apart. Knowing I had to do it again in a few days was scary. Civics on Center went so smoothly that my confidence came back. I drew great feedback over the next few days. “Maybe I’ll actually be able to pull this off,” I told myself. Next came that Kevin Walker email. I found it comical that the worst he had to say was that I’m “too conservative.” Of all the things I’ve been called in my life, that was hardly an insult. After all was said and done, many people told me how put off they were by that email and had voted for me as a result. My confidence became arrogance; I assumed I had it in the bag.

Oh, how wrong I was. We all met up and had a great time at Zax on election night and I was thrilled to see everyone again. I could not have asked for a better group of people to go through a candidacy with. The mutual respect we shared was the sole reason I survived without suffering a nervous breakdown. After waiting what felt like days for the results that night, I initially took it well. All the stress I had been carrying around disappeared almost instantly. The next morning wasn’t as easy. I would be lying if I said I feel comfortable having the fate of Moab in the hands it’s in and I resent myself for not trying harder. I feel like I dodged a bullet but all my concerns have only increased. If there is anything left for me to say, it’s this: I’ve only just begun.

Cassie Patterson is a mother of two and works at the Moab Recreation and Aquatic Center. In her free time, she does freelance writing and has a strong interest in politics.