I am the child of immigrants. My father was born in Japan and my mother was born in Canada, so I spent the first 18 years of my life hearing about how I could truly be anything I wanted to be when I grew up- even President of the United States- just because I was born in the United States of America. Both of my grandfathers are retired military veterans who served their country proudly and I have spent the last 15 years on social media posting about how Veterans Day means more than an extra day off school and work. It is with absolutely no excuse that I confess: at 34 years old I just voted for the first time. I wish I could tell you it was because I didn’t live in the country (ok for 5 years that was the case) or that I didn’t have a vocal opinion (nah, come on people, you’ve met me), but my excuses for the 16 years of voting throughout my adult life that I missed out on are pathetic. There’s the career I was always working non stop to build only to bail for the free wheelin’ life of an entrepreneur, then there were the workaholic tendencies as an entrepreneur, and, finally (and most pathetically) there was the lamest excuse of all that I did not know how to register to vote. Because, I book international flights on line, am raising two children, and operate a motor vehicle, but googling registering to vote never made it onto my radar. Seriously, I’m a sad case over here. Rather than focus on how a 34 year old American woman gets here, let’s talk about what kicked my ass to change things.
It’s all about this guy. I met Jose and Olga Padilla at a political fundraising dinner that I really didn’t want to be at. For those of you who know me, you know I hate any dinner that involves dressing up and sharing why you think you are important in a room of other important people, but this was for the benefit of a charity that I passionately believe in, so attending with my cheerleader smile on in full force was not negotiable. Jose and Olga had recently relocated to the Las Vegas valley and, on top of being ridiculously good looking, they are just the nicest, most humble people. Jose is so humble that he dove head first into the political shark tank of Nevada politics with a determined heart to cause real change for our community. All of his campaign literature will tell you about how he is a child of immigrant parents, the first in his family to graduate college, and a kick ass legal eagle. All of that sounds great, but I’d like to share fun facts about Jose Padilla
that you won’t find in any of that literature. First, he is the first Harvard grad that I’ve ever met who is absolutely not a douche bag. He doesn’t even lead with the Ivy league connection and proudly shares the story of being a fish out of water when he attended. Second, he has a technology background and believes in innovation, entrepreneurism, and changing the world. Yup, he’s just crazy enough to believe that the crazy people like me will make the world a better place. Finally, he is about as hands on as they come. He made sure that I got registered (remarkably easy and entirely painless), celebrated when I got my butt into the poles for the first time ever, and has made a point of checking on my girls and I as we have transitioned to being a single parent family. I don’t know if he’s going to win, but if his ability to get me voting for the first time at the age of 34 is any indication of his ability to cause change in our community, I sure as hell hope he does.