This Run’s for Jimmy (Sunday School With Jimmy Carter: Part 3)

12 mins read
Lynn's family walking in White Plains, Georgia, on a visit to see Jimmy Carter. Photo provided by the author.

This concept of service to others is still a crucial element in the American character and has always prevailed in overcoming challenges and correcting societal mistakes.

Jimmy Carter

My hero, former President Jimmy Carter, turned 95-years old last month. His recent health scares have people all over the world praying for his recovery, since none of us are ready to imagine a world without Jimmy. Especially with our country in such turmoil, it feels as if we need him now more than ever: if Jimmy Carter had a “bat signal,” we would be shining on it every tall building around the country, every night. 

Jimmy Carter embodies a life lived in service to others. His is a life also lived in the world of politics and politicians, which seems like such a dichotomy these days, doesn’t it? 

But what if we looked at the world through Jimmy’s eyes? I think we would see calls to be of service every single place we looked. We would all see clearly that it is our moral imperative to help one another, especially the least among us. We would see and hear the call to serve. 

By running for local office, I am attempting to do for my community what President Carter still does at the age of 95: be of service to others. If he doesn’t make excuses for why he can’t help others, why should I?

And listen, I have a laundry list of excuses to stop my from running. (And one of those items on my list is actual laundry for a family of six!) I have a million reasons of why not to run, but all are silenced by the one loudest reason to do it: in honor of President Carter, who exemplifies what service to others looks like. I think the greatest way I can honor him is by doing what he has been demonstrating his whole life—giving to others. 

Photo provided by the author.

I have traveled to tiny Plains, Georgia three times to hear President Carter teach Sunday School and God willing, I am going again, soon. Every time I go, I learn so much about the concept of the “ripple effect” — how even the smallest or most humble of efforts can affect so many, mightily. I’m running for local office because that is a great and humble place to start. Often, we ignore our local races in order to focus on the more “exciting” up-ballot races which garner more attention. But like Jimmy Carter swinging a hammer for Habitat For Humanity, you start on the ground floor, building the foundation.

Oftentimes, local politics are especially important as an entryway for women running their first race. As President Carter is such a fervent believer and supporter of equality for women’s rights, I can honor him by doing my very best to get equal representation for women in elected offices. 

This run’s for Jimmy because the best way I can think to honor him would be to emulate his commitment to public service. To do good works for as many people as possible. To further the rights of women, a cause he so passionately championed. To be an example to my own children of choosing action over complaining. To take my faith literally and to put movement behind it. If this is what my faith tells me to do, well then I should actually listen to it and do it, right? Otherwise, what is the point of faith? It can’t be there only for when times are tough and you need to cry out for help in the night. My faith demands that I do something. 

And if prayers without action were enough, those NRA-backed Republicans would’ve stopped mass shootings years and years ago with all of their “thoughts and prayers” with no action behind them. 

So this is me, putting action behind my prayers, some of which lately sound like this: “Holy Mother of God, what the hell is happening here? Help us out of this unholy mess!” I will admit fully that my personal faith is like that— raw, honest, uncensored and swear-y. What can I say? It works for me. 

I love that parable of the person stranded on their roof during a flood, praying for help, yet turning away the three instances of specific help that show up, saying, “My God will save me!” And of course, when that person on the roof succumbs to the flood waters and meets God in heaven, the first question is, “God, why didn’t you help me?” 

And God answered “What on earth did you think that rowboat, motorboat  and helicopter were for?”  

In other words, help yourself with the tools I have given you. 

Enjoy your American freedom, and utilize it to expand your own opportunities and God-given talents as much as possible. You will find that these investments in helping others will always pay rich dividends.

Jimmy Carter
Photo provided by the author.

These are the tools I have been given. Like Jimmy, I am going to put them to good use. They may be unusual tools (music, writing, and a loud activist voice), but they are my precious gifts. I am proud of them and will not hide them, I will highlight them as I run for office to Be Like Jimmy. 

Another area of politics where Jimmy stood out is his very early disdain for the way money entered and corrupted politics. He eschewed the idea of only the wealthy being able to afford to run for office. He also vowed to not make money off of his Presidency when he left the White House, and he kept that promise. He didn’t serve his country with the hopes of lining his pockets. (And in fact, did you all know he divested himself of his peanut farm in Georgia before assuming the Presidency, just to be perfectly clear he would not profit in any way from his office? And furthermore, do I even need to mention anything about how the current office-holder is doing the exact opposite of that? No? Good, you just saved me a paragraph of screaming.)

Photo provided by the author.

I agree wholeheartedly with Jimmy Carter’s sentiment about money in politics. In my first race, I ran against a very wealthy incumbent who had half a million dollars in his war chest. I had nothing of the sort, but that didn’t stop me from nearly beating him and getting 175,763 votes. For my 2020 race, my former opponent is now backing my new opponent—he threw him a fundraiser, so now I have two wealthy Republican men teaming up against me. 

It still won’t stop me. 

My 2020 opponent spent $100,000 on his election for County Board. In my opinion, that is tantamount to him just outright buying his seat. There is no earthly reason why you should need to spend that kind of money on a local race. If you are spending that much money, something is very, very wrong. 

So yes, I need to fundraise, but I refuse to attempt to raise an obscene amount of money like that for local office. I find it immoral and absolutely against the Democratic principle that anyone could—and should!— run for office if they have the desire to serve their community. Money should not dictate who can seek public service. I want to raise the minimum amount of money necessary to mount a campaign, always keeping in mind that this is a local, part-time position. 

If you can afford to do so, I ask for a donation to my campaign. I would appreciate any amount you can give—$10, $20, $100— whatever you are able to give. Truly, every single bit counts, and to me, raising small funds for a small race is what is appropriate. It also gives whomever comes after me an example of how to fundraise and gives other people who are not independently wealthy the confidence that they too can run for office on a modest budget. 

I want to prove you can win a race without spending obscene amounts of money. I want to be an example of how this can work at a local level. I also want to stand in stark contrast to my opponent who will be throwing wads of cash around in this race in an attempt to buy another election. Jimmy would not approve, so neither do I. 

Please help me win this race so I get the opportunity to Be Like Jimmy, and give back to my community through the most wonderful act of public service. 

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Lynn lives in Glen Ellyn with her husband, Michael Allaway, and their four children with ages ranging from 9 to 17. She has been a vocal writer and activist on the current state of politics and the need for communities to come together to end the partisanship in counties like DuPage in Illinois. To this end she ran for office for the first time in 2018, nearly defeating the long-term incumbent, receiving 175,768 votes and coming within 2% of winning. She is running again in 2020, for a sear on the DuPage County Board.
Her essays on politics and current events can be seen on Huffington Post and many other online platforms. Trained as a classical violinist, Lynn is Principal Violist with the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic. She graduated with a Bachelor of Music from University of Illinois; earned her Masters in Violin Performance at the University of Notre Dame, where she received a full merit scholarship and a stipend to teach and perform in the Graduate String Quartet in Residence; and attended Roosevelt University for Orchestra Studies, also winning a full merit scholarship plus stipend with a spot in the training orchestra of the Chicago Symphony.

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