I have not always been a big fan of baby steps. I’d say that, until about a year ago, I’ve only really looked at the major steps and accomplishments in my life. Baby steps never registered. At least, not really.
But I know they matter now. I know they set the groundwork for what happens later. I know that, sometimes, simply setting one foot down in front of the other warrants celebration.
Sometimes, baby steps are, well, hard.
But 2018 has been a lot of baby steps; we’ve all been taking them.
On Nov. 6, 2018, Belmont elected its first woman of color for the position of mayor.
Davina Hurt grew up in a small farm-town in Texas. Now, she’s been living in the Bay Area for nearly 20 years, spending stretches of time across oceans for school. For the most part, this is her home: the rolling Belmont hills, the ridiculous traffic, and the heart of the Silicon Valley.
She’s seen the political landscape around her shift and evolves dramatically — she started her career in politics while it was dominated by a rather homogenous group of white men (one could point out that in many ways, it still is) and now, she’s part of the shift towards something new. She’s not a new face or an unfamiliar name, but still, this is new for Belmont.
New is good. Change is good.
Belmont is changing — it’s not the same Belmont I moved to in 2012, much less the same Belmont as it was when it was first becoming… Belmont. To quote Councilmember Charles Stone, it most definitely is not your grandfather’s Belmont.
And while Mayor Hurt represents that change, she also represents much more. Hurt represents a movement, a rising tide of grass-roots organizations and community activism (and if there’s anything that most Belmont candidates do well, it’s running for a community). Beto O’Rourke, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Davina Hurt all have something in common; they’re about people, not parties.
Seeing it happen — seeing her win, watching the numbers — was an experience nothing could prepare me for, not even watching the election results for President Obama. For those who belong to minority groups, it’s about the firsts. All of them; from our first black president to Belmont’s first black woman as mayor.
The truth is that we often disregard local politics. It has to do with the fact that, for the most part, local politics are scandal-free; the biggest stories in politics are scandalous, shrouded in mystery, confusion.
We tell ourselves that we are familiar enough with local politics; a number of us know our city council; they’re our neighbors, our friends, our parents’ friends (or our friends’ parents). I met Mayor Hurt for the first time earlier this spring — she was sitting at a table inside Carlmont High School’s student union during my fourth period for an A.V.I.D. job fair.
We tell ourselves that, if we’re being completely honest, nothing really happens where we live — in the suburban towns and quiet neighborhoods.
That may be true, but we have to pay more attention.
This election season, a lot of small things happened. A lot of firsts happened across the nation; those are the victories young people are most excited about. For the first time, many are seeing themselves represented. And, for the first time, young people have had something to do with it.
We have to celebrate the small victories — the smaller happenings that get swept aside amidst bigger ones — because they’re just as important in the long run; they’re the baby steps that turn into major strides. They’re gentle reminders that we’re doing something right.
So look around. Show up. Pay attention. Celebrate the small victories — celebrate Mayor Hurt.