“Since most of us spend our lives doing ordinary tasks, the most important thing is to carry them out extraordinarily well.” – Henry David Thoreau
Recently, I fulfilled a promise to a friend, Myrna Lim, a political candidate running for Supervisor for District 11 in San Francisco, California. One afternoon, both of us strolled down the busy commercial corridor of Mission Street, intersected by Geneva Avenue and Excelsior Street, so I could introduce Myrna to my friends and acquaintances. This was Myrnaâ€™s second political campaign, having garnered the third highest number of votes in 2000, running for the same position. Although Americans of Filipino heritage may not be aware of it, electing Myrna Lim in November of 2004 would mean having the â€œfirst American of Filipino and Chinese ancestries elected to the legislative body of San Francisco.â€
What does this mean to the voting residents of the Excelsior and Lakeside districts — and the Outer Mission? I quote, â€œThe Board of Supervisors responds to the needs of the people of the City and County of San Francisco, establishes city policies, and adopts ordinances and solutions. The Board of Supervisors is the legislative branch of the City and County of San Francisco. The board consists of 11 members. Each member is elected on a non-partisan basis from a district where he or she lives.â€
Why did I feel qualified to introduce Myrna to the sights, smells, and sounds of my old territory? I had worked for two years at Manuel de Veraâ€™s Allstate Insurance office, by Mission and Onandaga Streets, from December of 1999 to December of 2002 as a licensed insurance representative. The Excelsior district is where I ate slices of â€œhumility pie!â€
Although Myrna and I had been networking since the mid-90â€™s during Asian Business Association, Inc.â€™s events, it was only in 2003 wherein we sat down for lunch one day and I interviewed her about her political aspirations. No, correction. I â€œgrilledâ€ her with questions only inquisitive friends ask — and risk censure. Myrna had irritated some â€œold guardâ€ Filipino American political leaders because she had very specific ideas about what a Supervisor did for a living.
Myrna told me, â€œIâ€™m a small business owner who has lived in this district since 1976. When I didnâ€™t make it in 2000, I immersed myself in more lessons. My stint in the San Francisco Planning Commission helped me relate my real estate experience to the economic development programs that are relevant to San Francisco residents. I just want to do a good job! I do feel disappointed when I watch some politicians, the minute they get into office, start fundraising for their next political office which is four years away. They are supposed to be in office to focus on their customers — the citizens and residents of the City and County of San Francisco. Let them do a good job first! Itâ€™s time for a change!â€
During our afternoon stroll, we felt like opposites since I could laugh and talk as loudly as I dared while Myrna kept her demeanor politely business-like and approachably-friendly. Every time we visited a store, I felt like a proper campaign supporter, asking if we could tape a poster at their front window. Even the beat cop was not exempted from introducing us to his friends. Aurora, Leticia, Maria, Baby, Zach, Sidney, Lito, and Manny — and some of the other business owners — welcomed Myrna and her questions. Walter, at his cafÃ©, talked about their mutual experiences in crime and violence in the neighborhood and its potential solutions.
Myrna expressed her desire to create good jobs, provide quality health care, and implement public safety programs to my friends. I was also candid with my own declaration of support: â€œI want to see more women in office. I want to see more Filipina women take a leadership role in politics. Myrna has already reached a particular level of competence, that if we give her one more push, she can be an incredible Supervisor, and make this ordinary job an excellent one! She will do us proud. Myrna gets the job done. She rocks!â€
Â© Lorna Dietz, July 2004. Published by Manila Bulletin USA.