The notion of me writing an op-ed is ridiculous. I’m just not the type. I tend to be the person in motion while someone else eloquently writes deep thoughts or funny stories. I’m also not the one who runs for office or tries to win a popularity contest. I don’t enjoy the spotlight and definitely don’t think that I am the holder of all truth.
I guess all those ideas that I have of me or who I am are wrong. Evidently here I am, finishing up the first month of being an elected official, and writing this op-ed…
This has been a unique adventure and I have many of you to thank for it. The weight of your votes does sit heavily on my shoulders and I take that privilege seriously.
Politics seems like such a dirty word to me that when my husband called me a politician the other day, I was honestly offended. I realize that I have a very negative notion about politics and politicians and I don’t think I’m the only one. With your help I would like to change that.
I started this journey with the idea that there is a place at the table for all of us, and I continue to believe so even more after my first month. The notion that only people that look like the current water board are the only ones qualified to make decisions for us needs to go away. Just like in all other aspects of our life, representation matters. Pluralism of ideas and points of view are crucial to make well-rounded decisions that work for ALL of us. We desperately need to diversify.
On many of my endorsement applications I was asked the question “who are your biggest obstacles?” It was customary to write “your opposition.” However I believe that WE, with our preconceived notions about politics, are our biggest obstacle. Whether it’s the idea of who should run to knowing what is on the ballot, to what offices are up for election – that lack of knowledge makes it feel like this is only something certain people can do. We can’t vote on things we don’t know about, and we rely on hearing about an issue if it’s really important. The truth is important things are happening around us all the time, and we often don’t hear about them. Most board meetings in our city only have a handful of people show up. Over 300,000 people live here and only a handful show up.
On those rare occasions that more show up – real change can happen! I’ve seen the impact that public participation can have.
During my time in office, one of my top goals is to make sure we are all more informed. Whether it’s making sure information is released, explaining the issues in a clearer way, or making sure it’s in a language accessible to all. I will be doing my best to make it all more available to you.
It’s time to pay attention, and it’s time for all of us to reclaim our water. We live in a time where climate change is real and needs to be addressed accordingly. We can also do better when it comes to conservation, and our agency’s resources can and should be put to use by the public. Not to mention we have contamination in our water that needs to be dealt with.
On my part, I will continue to write these pieces. I will post on social media and I will communicate with you all what I see and do. I need you to do your part as well. Show up to meetings. Contact me, email, text, call. Hold me accountable. Ask me those questions. I won’t always know the answers off the bat, I’ll probably have to ask around and read up. But I promise to always be YOUR voice and be completely honest.
You can reach Beth Braunstein at her email, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on her cell: (310) 717-1963.
Disclaimer: the above was written by Beth Braunstein herself and not on behalf of the board.