When Stars Align a guest post by Monique Ruffin

While I’m on my trip I have enlisted some of my favorite women to help me fill this space.  Because of my involvement in the Mayor’s race I have felt more connected to my city and wanted to pick bloggers who also feel that connection.  Today it is Monique Ruffin.  I met Monique at a shoot for Mom.me sometime in ’12 and I was instantly drawn to her.  A charismatic single mom I thought, “she has it”.  She writes for the Huffington Post and is passionate about her dedication to doing good and raising her son who has special needs.             If we were in pre school together I would pull my mat next to hers at nap time.  The more you know of her you too will want to be her friend. 

 

Last Tuesday, May 21, 2013, Eric Garcetti was elected mayor Los Angeles, the second largest city in the U.S. It was a hard-fought race for both candidates, and by the end of the campaign, many local news outlets were saying it was too close to predict a winner. In my personal circle, which includes many politically savvy folks, the message was to keep campaigning to the very end in order to ensure a Garcetti victory.

 

As fate would have it, I was interviewed by Seema Mehta, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, just three days before the election. At the time, I was at the park pushing my six-year-old son on the swing. Sometimes the stars just align, and things happen more fortuitously for you than if you had tried to organize them yourself. I have been a political junky all my life, and I was heavily involved in both the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections. I even wrote a book, titled Open Your American Heart: From Personal Responsibility to Collective Accountability, hoping to help citizens understand the personal nature of politics and how valuable we each are to the process. And so when Mehta approached me with a tape recorder and asked who I was supporting for mayor, I was ready to talk. What a fabulous opportunity!

 

I was born and raised in Los Angeles, and I have lived and worked in many different areas of the city. I love it here. One of my most favorite things about L.A. is our farmers’ markets. I do most of my shopping at the farmers’ markets because I understand the value of circulating dollars to local farmers and how the practice impacts the community and the environment. And because I have a young son, I care deeply about the welfare of the city’s parks, and of the public schools on which he and I rely. My son has Down syndrome, so when it comes to education, I’m all too aware of the benefits of a well-funded system. Maintaining solid programs that benefit all children will prove to be a mighty effort for mayor-elect Garcetti, as it has been for mayors in the past. It is my belief that this mayor has what it takes, the heart and the wisdom, to make a difference.

 

The day after Mehta interviewed me, the Times called to ask if they could come and take a photograph of my son and me. I agreed, and the day before the election Zion and I hit the big time, supporting Eric Garcetti for mayor. That morning my phone started ringing early. I thought someone in my family had died, because relatives I usually see or speak with during the holidays or on my birthday were calling me. After learning that the district where I live, Mid-Wilshire, might be the one to determine the next mayor, I wrote a piece supporting Garcetti for the Huffington Postto drum up last-minute support. I also persuaded as many friends and family members as I could to go vote. It was expected that only a small percentage of voters would participate (it turned out to be only 19 percent), so I knew every vote would make a difference. By the end of election day, two of my neighbors acknowledged my efforts as the reason they took themselves to the polls to cast a vote for Garcetti. I just love that.

Eric Garcetti, Monique Ruffin in the Charlie Chaplin room at Campanile July 2012

 

I’m looking forward to the next four years. I’m going to engaged deeply in local politics and support the issues that matter most for me and my family. I have Daphne Brogdon to thank for this. If she had not invited me to the luncheon hosting a group of about twenty blogging moms and then mayoral candidate Garcetti, I would not have gotten to know him, and I would not have felt as inspired as I was on the day the reporter approached my son and me in the park. Who knows what’s possible when the stars align?

Monique Ruffin can be found at the Huffington Post and at Moms Can Change the World.  

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