(Ep. 007) Moms in Politics with Tiffany

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In “Moms in Politics with Tiffany,” we get a glimpse into what it’s like as the only female city council member. Tiffany Ackley is transparent, funny, and inspiring while telling us the real deal about how she’s treated differently than her fellow men, how she still falls into common female traps, and how she breaks the mold by bringing her kids with her. You’ll be surprised by who gives her the most flak. We hear about her brain surgery, divorce, and the question her two-year-old daughter asked that changed everything. And I realize the one factor that excludes moms from the political arena. It’s so simple – and fixable. Tiffany also drops some cathartic f-bombs, proving that she’s real people.

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SHOW TRANSCRIPT:

Brandy:                   Hey, hi everybody. So when I first created the Adult Conversation podcast, today’s guest was at the top of my wish list. She’s a local mom of two young kids and was recently elected to my town’s city council. She is the only woman on it, so I knew I had to talk to her about all the bullshit that went down during the election and still goes down behind the scenes. I needed to know what exactly inspired a busy mom to get involved in politics, and logistically how did she even manage to do it while also going through a divorce and brain surgery? Lucky for us, she was an open book and her story does not disappoint. Whether you have political aspirations or not, today’s episode will open your eyes to ways in which moms and women are ousted from the political scene. How we can get involved, and if Xanax and door-to-door canvassing go together. Hmmm.

Brandy:                   I want to give a quick shout out to new Patreon member Brittany Amerson. Thank you so much for helping fund the child care, equipment, hosting, and whatnot it takes to keep this podcast going. You are the wind beneath my wings. If you would like to be the wind beneath my wings, check out patreon.com/adultconversation for only four dollars a month. (I hate asking for money, by the way).

Brandy:                   So today on the podcast, we have Tiffany Ackley. Hello Tiffany.

Tiffany:                    Hello.

Brandy:                   So you are a mother, an environmental lawyer, and then also you were newly elected to our city council.

Tiffany:                    Yes.

Brandy:                   Yeah, that’s a lot of stuff to do.

Tiffany:                    It’s a lot.

Brandy:                   So, today’s the first formal meeting, but I don’t know if you remember the time I pulled my car over – my van over – while you were picking up campaign signs and yelled out the window, “Yay we’re so glad you won!”

Tiffany:                    I do remember. I didn’t know it was you but I do remember that. That was awesome.

Brandy:                   Yeah and it was this weird moment cause I pulled over but then cars came behind me so I couldn’t come out and be like “Hi” so I just yelled at you as I drove by.

Tiffany:                    That’s alright. It was fun.

Brandy:                   That was me. I’m really excited to get to talk to you. You were one of the first people when I started to doing this podcast, I thought I would love to hear your take on this. This idea of moms in politics. Something that we’re seeing – women in politics and moms in politics – and there’s this feeling of I think all over with all the broken systems that we seem to have, where women are realizing, moms are realizing, I don’t want this for my kids. So sometimes the only way to do something is to get in there yourself because things aren’t changing.

Tiffany:                    Right.

Brandy:                   There’s a lot with that but before we get there, is there anything that you think the listeners need to know about you?

Tiffany:                    I lived in Italy for a long time, so I’m fluent in Italian.

Brandy:                   Oh.

Tiffany:                    Which is strange and interesting. And I tend to be very honest and I’m a little worried about this podcast as a result because I don’t have a lot of discretion when I speak.

Brandy:                   So, I love you already. That is the exact right answer.

Tiffany:                    Okay.

Brandy:                   And also we might be trouble together.

Tiffany:                    Yes.

Brandy:                   Okay so everybody just buckle up for both of us sharing way too much. So now that we got that out of the way, let’s get down to it. So I know you must be so busy. I’m friends with you on Facebook and I see all the things that you’re doing and I saw through your campaign, having to go door-to-door, having your kids with you, all of the things, your events like every other night. I can’t even believe that you’re sitting here with me right now because I feel like there’s something fancy and cool that you should be at. So I guess my first question is what lured you into running for city council? What was the thing or was there one thing that got you to go “I need to get involved in this?”

Tiffany:                    Yes, it’s sort of a convoluted story. In November of 2016, shortly after the election of Trump, I had brain surgery for a brain tumor.

Brandy:                   Holy shit. What?

Tiffany:                    Yeah. So that was, you know, I found out I had a brain tumor in 2009 but it was in such a location that it would be very dangerous to remove.

Brandy:                   Wow.

Tiffany:                    So we just monitored it every, you know, six months or so. I did an MRI and it was fine and it was stable and then you know, I got pregnant with a boy. And boys do this to you, they mess with your body. So as soon as I was done giving birth, I went for an MRI and it sort of exploded.

Brandy:                   Oh, goodness.

Tiffany:                    And so they needed to take it out and so I had to drive my kids out to my ex in-laws and you know basically say goodbye which you know, I mean, they were six months and two.

Brandy:                   Oh.

Tiffany:                    Can you imagine? I mean it’s… Anyway so I went back to UCLA, had the brain surgery, it was about nine hours, woke up with a completely clean bill of health.

Brandy:                   Wow.

Tiffany:                    It sounds like a cliché but it really is sort of true when you get a second chance you think “I’m not going to waste it.” And so I made some pretty big changes in my life. Separated from my husband officially, changed jobs, and then when the Women’s March came along, I took my daughter and my son up to LA and we were on that march and my daughter looked up at me and said, “Well, what are we going to do?” What do you tell your two-yea- old daughter? That marching is enough?

Brandy:                   Oh my god, a two-year-old said that?

Tiffany:                    Yeah. So you know you just say, “Well we’re going to run for office.” And ever since then, I mean I love my son he’s been very very little this entire time, but ever since then it’s been me and her and she comes with me to events and she is my campaign manager and…

Brandy:                   Oh my god.

Tiffany:                    It was interesting to see the transition for her. And I don’t know if it was just growing up or if it was part of like this but she went from being very shy and now she will stand up in front of – I mean I was at the Women’s March and so we stood up and I took her up with me and she had no qualms about it, standing in front of 20,000 people. It’s amazing. It’s awesome. So really my kids and realizing that what was happening on national level just wasn’t acceptable to me anymore and that I need to act.

Brandy:                   I didn’t expect to be moved to tears, like immediately. This is a common place for me but that’s, it’s an adorable story and it’s beautiful and so it sounded like with the brain surgery came this immense clarity.

Tiffany:                    Yes. Yes.

Brandy:                   Did you just wake up and all of it was all of sudden was crystal clear or did it come in the weeks and months after? Like how quick was that clarity?

Tiffany:                    Parts of it were immediate. You wake up and you weren’t sure if you were going to, so you’re grateful but then I had to relearn how to walk and so I had to rely a lot on family members. And that just makes you develop more compassion than I think anything else, and so I took from that that we all need to be kind to each other, all the time. And that there’s no reason for bickering or for fighting, there is occasionally and I’m sure we’ll get into some of that but you know that life is too short to be mean or to hold grudges and not that I was before, it’s just that life is just very short.

Brandy:                   So before the Women’s March, had you ever considered running for office or anything?

Tiffany:                    No way. Never. I love my job, so I’m an environmental attorney and I specialize in water and I absolutely adore it, and I was happy with two kids and free time.

Brandy:                   That’s right.

Tiffany:                    No and I was never interested in politics. I mean I was remotely interested in it and you know I would follow it and I would read online news, but no not really.

Brandy:                   Okay, so literally your daughter’s question changed everything.

Tiffany:                    Yes. It was sort of everything combined. It was you know the surgery and then the first big thing I did was not the Women’s March, the first big thing was – I don’t know if you’ll remember when Donald Trump was first brought into office he had the Muslim ban.

Brandy:                   Yes.

Tiffany:                    And that was impacting people flying into LAX, and so a lawyer friend of mine and I, we drove up and spent the night at LAX providing pro-bono, legal services.

Brandy:                   Oh, you were one of those!

Tiffany:                    They were looking for attorneys that had language experience and so we just went up there and spent the night there and helped, and it was sort of everything coming together. This realization that there was somebody in office that wouldn’t respect me simply because I was a woman. And my daughter and not wanting to have her see me just not do anything.

Brandy:                   Right. I feel like that piece that you just spoke of is why there are so many women and mothers getting involved. We can’t accept it and we can’t let our kids see that when that happens, we do nothing. Like the modeling on that is just beautiful. And also we are all exhausted from all the things we do anyway that it’s like, let me put this hat on too. So I worry about some of the moms getting involved in politics because just being a mom is already a lot and then you have a job on top of that and then this other piece, so there’s a lot of support systems that are probably necessary to get you through.

Tiffany:                    Yes. And it’s not for everyone. It’s a lot of work. During the campaign for example, I had volunteers that couldn’t really walk with me or canvass, so they would make me dinners.

Brandy:                   Right.

Tiffany:                    It’s a big sacrifice for your family especially. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways to participate. I can’t tell you how important it was to have somebody drop off a meal so that my kids and I could eat a healthy home cooked meal. That was critical. I mean, anyway you can get involved in anything whether it’s the PTA, whether it’s politics…

Brandy:                   Don’t talk to me about the PTA, oh my god. Okay so you had the moment where you were like, “Yeah, what are we going to do?” So then what did you do from there?

Tiffany:                    Well so following the Women’s March they were seeking people out to have a women’s huddle, it was sort of an official thing after the Women’s March and it was supposed to be these local groups for women who were interested in getting involved, coming together, so I hosted one of those. There were actually three here in Aliso Viejo.

Brandy:                   Oh really?

Tiffany:                    Yeah. So I was one and two of my close friends, they were not friends then, they are very close friends now also had them.

Brandy:                   Were these partisan?

Tiffany:                    It’s all non-partisan. And open to men. Just because it’s called the Women’s March or the Women’s Movement doesn’t mean to the exclusion of men. And so we had these groups and we all started talking about politics and national and state and local politics, and the more I talked about it, the more people suggested maybe I should consider running. And then I started toying with the idea. I knew I didn’t want to run and I wasn’t qualified to run for higher office, congressional or whatever. I looked at city council and there were no women, nobody with really young children, and they had taken some positions that I just fundamentally disagreed with.

Brandy:                   Yeah.

Tiffany:                    It bugged me, and so I sat down with as many people as I could who had run before. There was a woman who had run before me and I sat down with her, and I sat down with basically everybody who would talk to me so I could get an idea of how much this was going to impact my life before finally making a decision that yes, this is what we’re going to do. And then we were off and running.

Brandy:                   What did you have to grapple with? What were the pros and cons that people had told you about?

Tiffany:                    So, people sugar coat stuff.

Brandy:                   Yeah.

Tiffany:                    Yeah.

Brandy:                   There’s that.

Tiffany:                    And if you talk to me and you want to run, I’m going to tell you it’s worth it, but I’m also not going to sugar coat it. So they would all tell me it’s fine and you can still do other things in life.

Brandy:                   Did either of these people have small children?

Tiffany:                    No.

Brandy:                   Okay, yeah. I’m already like, but then why did…?

Tiffany:                    Right. Right. Right. And I can’t just say, “You go to soccer practice,” or “You go to college,” and I’m going to go do this. There were warnings about attacks that might come. And there were some attacks that came. I’ve got pretty thick skin when it comes to that. Thin skin when it comes to most other things.

Brandy:                   And where did those come from? Were those things that came off of Facebook? Were those people contacting you directly?

Tiffany:                    I had both.

Brandy:                   Yeah, lovely.

Tiffany:                    And in person, I had people say things in person.

Brandy:                   Really? Where, and who, and what?

Tiffany:                    I had a couple women tell me I was a bad mom because heaven forbid I work and run for office.

Brandy:                   Wow.

Tiffany:                    I had some inappropriate emails presumably from men because they were sort of sexual in nature.

Brandy:                   Your run-of-the-mill dick pics? Is that what we’re talking about?

Tiffany:                    I may have received one or two. I had a sitting city council man send out an email calling me you know like a crazy liberal and basically Aliso Viejo’s Elizabeth Warren. Not realizing that I thought that was a compliment!

Brandy:                   Yeah! The second you say that, I’m like yes!

Tiffany:                    And then the Facebook pages – all just the Facebook groups, they’re fun.

Brandy:                   The gutter. The gutter, the literal gutter.

Tiffany:                    Surprisingly most of the attacks came from women. That was more shocking to me than I think a lot of other things were. It was women and it was spouses of some of the other councilmen.

Brandy:                   Yeah, I saw some of that happen.

Tiffany:                    Yeah, that took a toll.

Brandy:                   I bet.

Tiffany:                    It was a coordinated attack against me on a very public Facebook post where I was called a liar and called all sorts of things. Simply because signs of mine were being stolen. I do union prints because I believe in supporting a livable wage. And those signs are five bucks each! And when you think that that’s not a lot but then you multiply it by the 400 that I needed, that’s a lot.

Brandy:                   Right.

Tiffany:                    It’s a lot of money.

Brandy:                   How do you have an attack by the spouse of somebody that you have to continue working with? Is it awkward?

Tiffany:                    Well…

Brandy:                   Did the person say anything? Like, “Oh hey, sorry about that. I think you’re great,” or just even, “Sorry?”

Tiffany:                    No.

Brandy:                   Nothing?

Tiffany:                    No, in fact at the last council meeting he mentioned that he thought he had to “educate” me. It’s an interesting dynamic. They say this is what politics is and this is part of the reason why I ran because this is not how it should be. We shouldn’t have bullies running the city.

Brandy:                   I love you for that and I’m also so sorry.

Tiffany:                    I mean if anybody can take it, I’m happy to take it because I specialize in environmental law but also in governmental law. So I know the law inside and out that applies to that council.

Brandy:                   Great, so you’re not going to take people’s shit.

Tiffany:                    I don’t take people’s shit.

Brandy:                   Right, because you know hey that’s illegal, here’s what you can do, and here’s what you cannot do.

Tiffany:                    Right. I just sort of stand up for myself and move on. I don’t need to have those people be my friends or even my supporters, and I need to realize and I have realized that they never will be, and that’s fine.

Brandy:                   So far in the city council meetings and the things that you guys are trying to do, has it felt like resistance?

Tiffany:                    Yes. So one of the things I just did in our city – most of us have families with young kids. And yet on Fourth of July, the only event we have is the community association run firework program. So when I was running, I really wanted there to be a bike parade or some sort of parade for young kids in the morning. Because that’s what I grew up with. Non-controversial, non-partisan, shouldn’t be an issue. I encountered some pretty heavy opposition to it. I think had anyone else brought it forward, it would’ve flown under the radar. But because it was me, because I’m the one who’s bringing it. Eventually I got it passed, and they all voted for it.

Brandy:                   So maybe they thought there were ulterior motives or what’s the spin on this going to be, is this going to be like a women’s Fourth of July? Or do you think it was just like “Let’s just make it hard for her?”

Tiffany:                    I think I encountered resistance to it not because – I have no agenda, I don’t want to make it you know a political parade, I don’t want it to have to be a women’s parade, I just want the kids to have fun. But I think encountered resistance simply because it was me. In the end, they all voted for it.

Brandy:                   Alright! You know, one of things that I always say about motherhood is all the daily resistances that you have from your children, when that adds up you have a whole day of people resisting you and it just wears you down. And there are some jobs out there that have the same amount of resistance – working in mental health, zookeeper possibly, you know these sorts of things. But also being in your situation in politics where you have people just butting up against you, so I would imagine it can be an exhausting job and position to be in.

Tiffany:                    It is. I was in a unique, not a unique, but you know an interesting position because I had been a litigation attorney for ten years and so I was paid to butt up against people.

Brandy:                   Oh my gosh, now I need to know: do you find motherhood to be fairly easy?

Tiffany:                    Oh hell no. Am I allowed to say that?

Brandy:                   You can say whatever the fuck you want on here.

Tiffany:                    No, motherhood is… I was convinced I was going to love it and when my children were born and they were put in my arms I was going to be in love. Nobody told me about postpartum depression. Nobody told me about how much you can possibly love one child and simultaneously hate that same child.

Brandy:                   Yes.

Tiffany:                    You know I heard about the terrible two’s but then there are the threenagers, and the fuck you fours, and these are all real things.

Brandy:                   It’s totally true. I have this book series that’s like “Your Two-Year-Old: Spirited and Sweet,” but you know it’s really just like, “Your Two-Year-Old: A Hellion.”

Tiffany:                    Yes.

Brandy:                   “Your Three-Year-Old: Fuck You,” “Your Four-Year-Old: Why Did You Do This?” Like they’re sugar coating it.

Tiffany:                    Right.

Brandy:                   But you’re right, every age has its sort of middle-fingerness.

Tiffany:                    But on the other hand, it’s interesting because my daughter is very…

Brandy:                   And how old is she now?

Tiffany:                    So she’s five. She’ll be six in a week and a half. But she’s very spirited and she’s very opinionated and she’s analytical in her thought processes. It doesn’t always mean she’s rational. So you know she’ll sit there and she’ll argue with me about something and I just get all this anger like, “Stop arguing with me!” But then at the same time you think, “I love that you’re arguing with me.”

Brandy:                   Totally because you know when it’s not used against you, it’s brilliant.

Tiffany:                    Yes.

Brandy:                   Like use that when you’re at a frat party and somebody’s trying to get you to do something.

Tiffany:                    Right.

Brandy:                   But right now, put on your fucking pants. We’re just talking about pants today.

Tiffany:                    And then if they don’t put on their pants and you’re like the mom, like me, who says “Fine, we’re going out without pants!” And then you get all the looks from the other moms like, “Why is your child not wearing pants?” Because they fucking won’t.

Brandy:                   Exactly.

Tiffany:                    And I had to go buy milk.

Brandy:                   Oh my gosh, well I’m surprised because I have a friend who’s a lawyer. She worked at a firm for years and so when she became a mother it seemed so easy for her. And so at some point I said to her “Gosh, this seems so natural.” She goes, “You don’t realize, I worked for a monster and I didn’t sleep, we had to sleep at the office, we barely ate, it was awful.” So she goes, “I still have the same living conditions, its just that my boss loves me and is the sweetest looking little baby.” And so I kind of had this shift in my head of like oh yeah so who you are before you become a mother affects how your motherhood experience is – what you’re used to. So I totally thought you were going to be like, “Yeah, I was so used to resistance, it was no big deal.” So I like that you’re a human being.

Tiffany:                    Yes. I think it depends also on the mom. I’m a very A-type person but when you have kids, you can’t be.

Brandy:                   Exactly. Us A-typers have a hard time when we have to bend every moment for other people.

Tiffany:                    Yes.

Brandy:                   I feel you on that, we’re on the same page on that. Okay, so take me back to so you decided you were going to do this, you talked to the people in the community, they basically lied to you about what you were going to have to do or not do, and then do you just like go up to a window and tap on the window like, “Hi, I’m going to run for this?” What was the process of now I’m doing this?

Tiffany:                    Having taken the opportunity to go out and talk to all the different people in the community, I was connected with a woman that runs a program for progressive candidates and it sort of trains you on the process.

Brandy:                   Awesome.

Tiffany:                    Yes. And it’s no cost. It was awesome and she talks to you about how you fundraise and your timeline and things like that.

Brandy:                   Is this a national thing or is this just with us?

Tiffany:                    Local.

Brandy:                   Oh local.

Tiffany:                    Yeah. So it’s called the OC Pipeline.

Brandy:                   Amazing. Okay.

Tiffany:                    There are national ones. I did a similar one for women called Emerge. That sort of gives you the training and the ideas of what you have to do and how you have to do it. The worst part of it is fundraising. Without a doubt. I hated that.

Brandy:                   I don’t think I could do it just based on that.

Tiffany:                    I don’t know if it’s us as women, cuz the men didn’t seem to have as many problems with it, or maybe it’s us as A-type people, I don’t know. But calling up people and asking for money, it felt too personal.

Brandy:                   Yeah.

Tiffany:                    Right. And then you know I had to constantly remind myself this is not for me, this is for the campaign and this is for the betterment of the city. But it always felt like asking for money for myself. So I was awful at it.

Brandy:                   What were the responses? You know like if you had called me I’d be like, “I’m so excited, yes please do the good work that you know I’m not willing to do at this time.” But I’m sure you got some…

Tiffany:                    The interesting thing is I got a lot of support from people I never would’ve expected it. Also interesting was I didn’t get support from the people I really thought I would.

Brandy:                   Oh really? Like in what way?

Tiffany:                    I’ve had somebody I’ve known my entire life who is a childhood friend of my father’s. He’s supported me my entire life and is almost basically like a second father, and as soon as I said democrat there was just no way he was going to give me a penny. Which was disappointing, but that’s alright. But for the most part, people were receptive and gave when they could and 20 dollars made a difference even if they didn’t realize it.

Brandy:                   Every little bit mattered.

Tiffany:                    It did.

Brandy:                   So then you find yourself on this campaign trail where now you have to fundraise and get your name out there and start talking to people, while also… your hours at your job, did those change?

Tiffany:                    No.

Brandy:                   Okay. And then you have the two small kids, so how on earth did you do all of this?

Tiffany:                    I wish the answer was as easy as I was on crack. But it’s not. I don’t know.

Brandy:                   “Yeah, I was on meth for the whole campaign.”

Tiffany:                    You just go and you don’t stop. Because if you stop going at 100 miles an hour, you’re going to fall over. As it got closer to the election and we were – I didn’t start canvassing, meaning going door-to-door, until after the fourth of July. I didn’t want people to get tired of hearing my name or seeing me. And so you know, I would do things like wake up really early in the morning and drop off literature at people’s houses, you know just drop a flyer on the door. And then I would leave work a little early and canvass every night.

Brandy:                   Were your kids with you for the canvassing or were they at home?

Tiffany:                    Oftentimes they were. Other times they were with Jared. My mom has been amazing. Often times they would come and I have a wagon and I would just sort of pull them in the wagon. I always swore I would never be that mom that said, “Here, take the iPad” and whatever.

Brandy:                   Oh yeah.

Tiffany:                    But the iPad is a saving grace.

Brandy:                   Totally.

Tiffany:                    “Get in the wagon, here’s the iPad, watch a cartoon.”

Brandy:                   Exactly. “I’m changing the world here kids, so just watch a show.”

Tiffany:                    Right.

Brandy:                   “But not on YouTube. Don’t find the Momo challenge.”

Tiffany:                    Yeah. My ex-husband still hasn’t downloaded YouTube kids and I’m a little frustrated by that, but yeah you know you take them with you, and so I was actually criticized heavily within my own party for bringing my kids with me, and I was told I didn’t look like a serious politician because I had kids with me.

Brandy:                   See this is the shit, this is the shit.

Tiffany:                    Yeah.

Brandy:                   This is the stuff about motherhood that is so fucked up that puts us in this impossible box.

Tiffany:                    Right.

Brandy:                   They say, “We’re not going to fix the world so you go fix the world. Oh but while you’re fixing it, you can’t bring your kids while you do it but hey guess what? We don’t have built-in childcare.” And we can’t fix anything, we can’t bring our kids, so then we have to just live in this world that was created by a bunch of men, who are doing it fucking wrong?

Tiffany:                    Right. Look, or women who will not lend a hand and help you up that ladder because most of the criticism, like I said, came from women. And the criticism about me bringing children with me came from a woman – and a very high-up woman in the party. And it was sort of like you have to take a minute to sit back, to think, what does this mean, how am I going to proceed? And my response was simply, “Fuck you and I’m going and I’m taking my kids with me and I don’t care if people think I’m not a responsible person.” The reality is, every time I went to an event when I had my children, other women in the audience helped.

Brandy:                   Of course.

Tiffany:                    And wanted to help. And there were times when I would have my son on my hip and I would be talking and there were times when he would be running around screaming, but that’s reality and that’s what everybody experiences with kids and what Aliso Viejo is. It is a family community.

Brandy:                   We need that person in office to represent us. We don’t need the woman who’s saying, “Well you shouldn’t bring your kids to this.” We need somebody who’s us. So that’s what I saw in you – a mom whose kids go to local elementary schools, yes. Because your issues are my issues. We are the same.

Tiffany:                    Right.

Brandy:                   I’m so floored and also not floored that women in the party are the ones giving you a problem.

Tiffany:                    The kids handled it like champs. You know they get a little upset. Last night I was at an event and I try to Facetime them when I’m at an event that they can’t come to, but they’ve gotten really good at just coming along with me to these meetings and interacting with other people, and I’m hoping one day maybe my daughter and my son will decide they want to do something similar.

Brandy:                   What you’re showing them is priceless.

Tiffany:                    Yeah.

Brandy:                   Because they’re getting to see this is what it looks like when my mom cares about the world, and this is what it takes for my mom to do this. I think sometimes we forget the modeling that we do for our kids when we take time for ourselves or for our other endeavors, things that we’re passionate about, show our children it’s good to have things you’re passionate about. I give you a huge kudos for thinking outside the box and doing something outside the box. Anytime we do that, there are going to be haters and people saying things about us, and it takes such courage to do that so kudos to you on that for sure.

Tiffany:                    I was having a conversation last night with a really nice girlfriend of mine and she said, “I judge the success of each day based on how many people hate me that day.”

Brandy:                   Oh my god.

Tiffany:                    And I thought, alright I think I’m doing okay!

Brandy:                   That’s right because you know you have to realize too that for as many people that feel that way, there are equal to probably more that feel the other way. It means that you’re sticking your neck out!

Tiffany:                    Yeah, that’s exactly right. That you’re taking a position that is controversial and… So no, my kids are not the center of my universe. They are very important me but they also know that sometimes mom needs to go to these meetings on her own or sometimes I need a little bit of my own time and they’re better kids for it.

Brandy:                   Absolutely and you know what? If they choose to have kids, they’ll be better parents for it. This is the thing that I don’t think people understand is when we raise our kids that they are the top of the food chain and we just drive them to all their events and that’s what our life is, when they become parents, they’re going to think that’s how you do it.

Tiffany:                    Yeah.

Brandy:                   And they’re going to be held to these high standards that maybe their personalities don’t match with, so I like to tell myself that being in that place where the kids are not at the very top of rung, serves them for when they become parents. I mean I think it serves them as human beings anyway. Because nobody should be at the top of the food chain all the time.

Tiffany:                    I think when you raise your children, not being a psychologist just, you know, but when you raise your children to think that they’re the center of the universe, they can do no harm, that everything revolves around them and then they go to college or they go out and get their first job, you’re really setting them up for failure.

Brandy:                   Absolutely.

Tiffany:                    You know, cuz that is not how the real world operates. At all. You need to hustle, you need to work, you need to be honest, and try your best, and sometimes you’re going to fail. My daughter, I always talk about my daughter simply because my son is a little bit younger but when he’s older I’ll do the same thing, you know, they want to climb rocks or they want to do something that I know that probably they might fall, and I’m not going to be one of those moms that says don’t do it. I’m going to do it in a controlled setting. It’s not going to be a 20-foot rock, four-foot rock maybe. You know, go climb it! And when you fall stand up and do it again.

Brandy:                   Yep. The natural consequences are one of my favorite tools in parenting. When there’s nothing that I have to put on it, it’s just like yeah you go do that thing and the consequence of doing that thing is this. It’s kind of lazy cuz then I don’t have to parent. So the thing is, if you go to school and you’re mean to kids – I mean obviously I would parent that and do my best to not allow that – but the consequence is people don’t want to hang out with you.

Tiffany:                    Right.

Brandy:                   And so we kind of, we don’t allow those natural consequences to happen when we put them at the top of the hierarchy.

Tiffany:                    Or don’t do the work, the natural consequence is don’t do well in school. And that should be a consequence. Not something you can buy your way out of.

Brandy:                   Yeah. So during all of this, you were going through a divorce? Or a separation?

Tiffany:                    Separation, we’ve been separated for a while. We did not publicize it. Often times in fact I would wear my wedding ring when canvassing just because it made me feel a little bit safer. But he is also the biggest supporter and most amazing dad in the world. It’s heartbreaking when a marriage ends. It was tough. It was especially tough with – a few of my really close friends knew what was going on, but everybody else had no idea and it was, “Where’s your husband?” And it was a little tough.

Brandy:                   Well I’m just thinking about, so you’ve got your job. You’ve got motherhood. You are now campaigning. And then on top of it you’re dealing with the emotions and the fall out of a separation.

Tiffany:                    Right.

Brandy:                   Again, how the hell did you do that? I mean, you didn’t do meth which is maybe a bad call, but so did you have a moment after the campaign and all of that work was done where you just kind of fell apart for like a week? Or two days? Or did you decompress from all that you were holding up? Have you had that yet?

Tiffany:                    Not yet. I’m looking forward to it. We spoke a little bit about it – the coordinated attack on Facebook, the resident’s page by the then Mayor’s wife, and I don’t want to boost her ego or anything, but it was this coordinated attack where people started calling me liar and all these other things. It wasn’t that, that was just the catalyst – that was the straw that broke the camel’s back, and I spent about four days just crying. This is too much and I don’t know how to do it and I’m never going to win, and people think I’m awful. But then having that inner conflict of people think I’m awful but why do I care? I don’t think I’m awful. So there was a little bit of that, you know there was definitely a moment where I kind of just wanted to quit. But then, like you said I got my pants on.

Brandy:                   It always comes back to pants.

Tiffany:                    It does come back to pants. Take them off, put them on. And you know, I kept going and I was actually thoroughly convinced I was going to lose.

Brandy:                   Oh wow.

Tiffany:                    I had no doubt in my mind that I was going to lose, and so on election night, I took out all of my family and the closest volunteers to a restaurant in Laguna Beach because I didn’t want to be in Aliso Viejo. Well, I mean I say restaurant but I picked it because they had really heavy alcohol.

Brandy:                   Okay, now we’re talking.

Tiffany:                    Mai tais, in particular. So you know, I was shocked when it turned out that I had ended up winning, and I had ended up winning by a landslide and coming in first. But the whole time I was running, I thought it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. It’s about making people aware of the fact that there’s no women on the counsel and making them aware of the fact that they voted to not have their own code of conduct. Or that we don’t have term limits. And so we have people who have been on the counsel since the city was incorporated. And that doesn’t seem to be problematic except you take a step back and you realize that in our city, a sleepy, comfortable city like Aliso Viejo, incumbents never get voted out. Ever. So until one of them decides to not run again, they’re in there. I don’t think that that’s in the best interest of the city.

Brandy:                   No, you bring up a really good point for people who are listening who are thinking yeah I could run, but what good would it do, I don’t think I’d win. Just by running, you show here’s a kind of person, a women, a mother, person of color, somebody who’s LGBTQ – this is not represented and maybe that person’s not going to win, but it’s going to open some eyes to the lack of that person. That kind of person there. And that itself is worth it.

Tiffany:                    And I can’t describe to you the immense friendships that I developed with people I never would’ve met otherwise. People who volunteered for me, people who I met literally canvassing, and now I consider some of my closest friends.

Brandy:                   Wow.

Tiffany:                    And the only thing that you really have in common is this desire to make a positive change. And so it’s not the destination, it is the journey. If you put in the time and you put in the effort, you’re going to meet some amazing people, you’re going to develop skills you didn’t think you could develop. Public speaking, or thinking on your feet, or even just having the courage to knock on the door of a stranger to talk about why it is you want to run for city council.

Brandy:                   Oh my gosh, I imagine all the listeners who are introverts are just like, “No, never.” I could see how that could be terrifying to people but you’re right. I mean when you have a passion, you have something you want to work towards, that’s an important thing, and so to come out your comfort zone to make that happen – and I think too with the climate of our politics, people who wouldn’t feel like they needed to do that are now like, “No, things have gotten bad enough that I’ll do it – that I’ll go take a Xanax and walk to strangers’ houses.”

Tiffany:                    Well, don’t take the Xanax right before you walk but…

Brandy:                   Hey, I don’t know. I’m not against that. Especially if you take half a Xanax, I’ll tell you a half a Xanax…

Tiffany:                    I should try it.

Brandy:                   I’m not a pill pusher, I take probably a half a Xanax maybe once a month. This is how sensitive my system is, but I mean sometimes you could do just even like lick, they should have Xanax lollipops where you just take a lick.

Tiffany:                    Is that Ecstasy that you lick or is that the stamps? What is the stamp that you put on your tongue? There’s some drug.

Brandy:                   I think it’s acid.

Tiffany:                    Acid! Yes. They’ve got all sorts of marijuana edibles. But that stuff just makes me, not that I would know, but that stuff just makes me paranoid. So I wouldn’t do that before canvassing.

Brandy:                   For moms and parents, marijuana is like I’m already so tired and now I’m tired AND I’m hungry. Like it’s both things, it’s just like parenting intensified.

Tiffany:                    Yes. I don’t understand why people do it but…

Brandy:                   Nobody needs that.

Tiffany:                    Yeah no, so no Xanax, no weed – every once in a while a nice Mai tai was helpful.

Brandy:                   Yeah, right. So do you feel like you have to always be on in the community? Like when you’re shopping at Ralph’s, do you feel like you have to dress nicely or do you feel like you have to act a certain way because people know who you are?

Tiffany:                    There is pressure, but there’s also reality. Right before I walked into this interview, I realized I hadn’t cleaned my face this morning, so I took a baby wipe that I keep in my car and cleaned my face! Whereas before I could go to the grocery store in yoga pants and a t-shirt and nobody cared. Now I go in yoga pants and a t-shirt and people are like what the hell?

Brandy:                   Or they’re like, “She’s us.”

Tiffany:                    And that’s, I gotta do it. I’m not going to go to the grocery store in a suit.

Brandy:                   Like in a power suit. Every time.

Tiffany:                    So you know, I go in yoga pants and today I’m wearing jeans and a sweater and people always want to know certain answers and I’m honest with them. Sometimes I know the answer, sometimes I don’t. But yeah, I feel like I’m always on. I’ve got a really good girlfriend who’s a city council member over in Tustin, and it was so funny because right after I won, she called me up, I’m going to sound like a raging alcoholic.

Brandy:                   Yes, keep going.

Tiffany:                    She called me up and she’s like, “The one rule: Don’t buy alcohol in your city.” And I said why not? She’s like, “Cuz you’re going to walk through that grocery store with a cart full of vodka and somebody’s going to see you. Always go out of your city to buy the alcohol.” So you’re always on, essentially.

Brandy:                   Is that tiring? Do you notice it? Like do you notice the fatigue of that? Or just now since I pointed it out?

Tiffany:                    No, there are times when just a couple weekends ago, I had really nothing planned on a Sunday which was amazing and that’s sort of when it hurts – I think I mentioned before the rule is if you’re going a hundred miles an hour, you keep going otherwise if you slow down you’re going to fall over. But my on is different than a lot of people’s on just because my on is who I am. You know we started this interview when you said if there’s something that you ask that’s too close to tell you it’s too close or too personal and I would tell you that regardless. If you asked why it is I’m going through a separation or why it is I’m going through a divorce now, I would tell you we’re not talking about that. So my on is just who I am and that means – by the way, cuz I have extroverted tendencies but I’m also introverted to a certain degree, when I go to events, I will often go to the bathroom and just sit in the stall for ten minutes.

Brandy:                   Yes.

Tiffany:                    Cuz I don’t want to talk to anybody for ten minutes.

Brandy:                   Totally.

Tiffany:                    And that’s okay! And you know, don’t ask me if I’ve got stomach problems. I just don’t want to talk to you anymore.

Brandy:                   “No, I’m fine, I just hate your face.”

Tiffany:                    I just need to not talk.

Brandy:                   I didn’t realize how much we have in common, but our personalities in that way of being truth tellers, of saying the thing that people aren’t saying, I can’t be any other way. Like I legitimately, I can’t tone this down. Which could be problematic but it’s also helped me to find out a way to accept who I really am. So anybody who’s with me, I don’t think you’ll ever get a fake version of me. Like I’m always who I am, but the downside of that is for people who like to be a bit more surface-y and who aren’t that open, I’m too much for.

Tiffany:                    Right.

Brandy:                   So it’s not that it’s always great, but it’s helpful honestly to hear you say these things because just recently I have had some questions of putting myself out there for this stuff, I’ve had some questions of is this worth it? This is who I am and these are the things that I’m saying and they’re seeming to resonate with people really hugely and then you get some of the trolls and you get some of the other people and sometimes it’s hard to remember all the people who are supportive. But just even knowing that there is the the moment where you kind of go, “Should I do this? Should I keep doing this?” And then also what your friend said is saying the hard things out loud is not going to be easy and there’s going to be some people who don’t want to hear it.

Tiffany:                    Right.

Brandy:                   So it doesn’t mean we change who we are.

Tiffany:                    Right.

Brandy:                   But same thing, I love conversation. That’s not a shocker to anybody, but I hate small talk bullshit. So at those types of events I think I would go out of my mind. To like a three-hour event of just surface-y stuff. I’d be right there with you in the stall.

Tiffany:                    But it’s not all surface-y stuff. I’m very honest and I will tell people what my day was like or what’s going on in my life and separation now divorce.

Brandy:                   Do they react though? I feel like people in that arena, they’re not into that kind of real talk. It’s more of the shmoozey, so when you say things like that, are people kind of like, “Whoa, we’re talking real here?” Is it shocking?

Tiffany:                    Yeah, but fuck ’em.

Brandy:                   Yeah. Right. I’m with you on that but.

Tiffany:                    I have an amplifier, of Facebook. I’ve got almost 5,000 friends on Facebook which is absurd because I don’t know the vast majority of them. I try to take the time every once in a while to write a very honest post. You know, this is me and I struggle with self-esteem issues and it’s very hard to make it through the day sometimes. But people will come up to me afterwards when they see me at these events and say, “That really touched me because that’s exactly how I feel sometimes.”

Brandy:                   And that’s what’s missing in politics.

Tiffany:                    Yes.

Brandy:                   Is the human part of it. Is the being real about what we’re feeling and the struggles that we’re having instead of having this perfectly coiffed outfit and hair and this fake voice that’s just saying all the positive things. That’s what I love about you, and I think that that’s what people are starting to realize, is we have a president who is just like… There’s no innards. It’s like a shell. And so when you start to see people who remind you of yourself, or people in your family that you know and love, and those people are making changes – I think that’s really comforting to people, regardless of whether you’re a democrat or a republican.

Tiffany:                    And at the local level especially. It should be non-partisan because we’re so micro-focused. That the national policies don’t come into play, at all. That was challenged a bit two meetings ago. And I came from, my dad’s a Tea Partier and my mom’s a republican.

Brandy:                   Same, yeah.

Tiffany:                    And we all talk about politics and love each other and respect each other. But there are republican women as well, I mean they would relate to me simply because I’m a mom and this is really not a partisan issue. This is our schools are falling apart and we need somebody up on that council that says maybe we don’t need an 18-million-dollar wedding facility, maybe we need to make sure that our kids are safe in their schools. Or make sure that we have things like a Fourth of July parade. So I resonated with republican women as well, which was nice and endearing. And the volunteers I always sent out to non-party preferences or democrats or whatever. I saved the vast majority of the republicans for myself.

Brandy:                   Oh wow.

Tiffany:                    Yeah. Cuz I didn’t want to have them get into an argument.

Brandy:                   Yeah, that was nice of you.

Tiffany:                    And Facebook does that, even with my Facebook right, it looks like I’m going from event to event to event and I am, and I’m keeping it all up and the reality is when I get home, my kids are sometimes already asleep and that sucks. Now they’ve taken to coming to my bed with me, which is awesome and like the worst thing ever.

Brandy:                   It’s just like parenting. It’s both of those things.

Tiffany:                    Yes. It’s how I usually end up at the foot of my bed, not getting any sleep.

Brandy:                   So where are you in the hierarchy of bed?

Tiffany:                    The bed hierarchy, I’m at the bottom.

Brandy:                   Like literally.

Tiffany:                    But you know, keeping it real and saying things like, “I had a shitty day, I had a good day.” One of the things I do with my kids is at dinner we always go over the same questions and those are, “Tell me something that made you sad today, tell me something that made you angry today, tell me something that made you happy today, and tell me something that you’re going to do better tomorrow.” My daughter likes to add, “Tell me something that was confusing today.”

Brandy:                   Check. She did it.

Tiffany:                    But you know, the point of having those conversations is to normalize feelings because we don’t do that as a society. We have this image of what it is to be a parent or what it is to be a child and not to acknowledge the depression or the anxiety or the whole range of emotions that we feel every single day. And so I’m hoping by having those questions and talking to my children, that they realize that we all have them and it’s normal and you should show compassion to other people because you don’t what they’re going through.

Brandy:                   Yeah, I’m with you on that.

Tiffany:                    One of the things that I think a lot of my family members have issues with – they don’t have issues but they’re surprised – is I let my daughter and my son, “You want to wear that?” Unless it’s seasonally, completely inappropriate which is rarely the case here in Southern California, it’s your body. You wear what you want to wear. You don’t want a hug uncle Joe Joe (that’s a made up name)? Then you don’t have to! Because how is it that we’re teaching our children – and especially our daughters – that they don’t own their bodies enough to decide what they’re going to wear, who they’re going to touch, and we expect them to grow up and be independent enough to say no? These are things you have to do as a parent.

Brandy:                   They seem minor and we’re kind of all hypnotized that that’s just how girls are, that’s just how boys are. Yeah, so we’re hypnotized, so I don’t know if you know this about me, but I was a birth doula for ten years and taught childbirth education and did some birth trauma work with people, and it’s always interesting to me because on the other side of birth, most women are traumatized.

Tiffany:                    Yeah.

Brandy:                   And part of that is because they thought that during birth they would be able to speak up for what they wanted differently, and they forgot that we are brought up as women in a society to not do that. So they thought that all of a sudden, the day that they give birth they’re going to be like a completely different person in the still same system, and so it’s an interesting thing to realize just how true that kind of stuff is. The people pleasing, the listening to a man in a white coat, the not questioning, you know all of those things. Nobody probably sat down and said, “You need to please people.” It’s just all of these minor things. That all add up to something.

Tiffany:                    It’s just cultural conditioning.

Brandy:                   Right, so what you’re talking about with the clothes and the hugging, that all matters. It goes to the big picture of am I in control of myself, or do I cater to somebody else?

Tiffany:                    And it comes into politics. You know, we criticized Hillary Clinton – I mean you like or don’t like her – and all female politicians for the way they dress, the way they speak, their intonation. We hold them to completely different standards. Even up at the dais where the council sits, I think I’m treated differently. I am literally having to deal with my colleagues saying that they feel they need to educate me. When they would never say that about a man. And I feel like at times I’m conflicted, do I speak up and defend myself, or will they just write me off as being a crazy women? If you want to see crazy women, watch the last meeting cause I kind of went crazy.

Brandy:                   What did you do?

Tiffany:                    I had been bullied the meeting before then and I’m an attorney, I’m a mom, and all these things, but like with the white coat situation, it still is taking me some time to get my sea legs, so I just sort of sat quietly while it happened and it was again a coordinated attack.

Brandy:                   On you? Specifically at the meeting?

Tiffany:                    On me. Yes.

Brandy:                   What the hell?

Tiffany:                    And so I just sort of sat there, but the following meeting which was last meeting, I decided I’m going to show them that they can’t fuck with me. I already knew how I was going to vote on certain issues and I could’ve just simply voted the way I was going to vote and not – I don’t want to say attack, but attack their positions – but I thought if I were a man, would I back down? And the answer is no. So why should I back down? Why should I not state why exactly I’m voting this way? And I did and the response was, “I need to educate my council member.” I don’t know if you want to get into the issues. One of the issues was cutting… You know what, let’s talk about this. Cause this is women and this is for moms. We have some employees at the city that are half-time employees or more. It’s 1,000 hours or more a year up to full-time. Right now, the legislature requires us to give them pension benefits. And we had an ordinance brought to us, we drafted an ordinance to exclude them from being entitled to those benefits. And the rationale was, from the other four gentlemen, that right now the people who have this job they’re just college kids from wealthy families essentially…

Brandy:                   Okay.

Tiffany:                    And so they’re not worried about the money. And my position was this is a job protection issue. Maybe there’s a mom who can’t work full-time, but would be interested in having a part-time position and needs those benefits and now she can’t apply. So, I saw it as an attack on single moms, on perhaps the people who don’t have as much money. So I voted no and I was you know, sort of raked over the coals for it. It was four to one, it doesn’t matter, it passed anyway. You know, it’s issues like that that come up and I feel like I have to speak up when I’m still relearning every time I get up there. Relearning and reconditioning myself to not fall into that female mindset of make every sentence sound like a question. And to speak up.

Brandy:                   Wow.

Tiffany:                    We should not have cut those benefits and I understand that they thought it was just for so many employees today, but I’m an attorney and I read the ordinance and I know that it’s standing and it’s going to stand. And as we grow as a city that this will impact more people and it will limit our applicant pool, and I don’t think that’s appropriate, and I also question whether or not everybody who’s ever going to apply to this job is really just a college student.

Brandy:                   I’m just so amazed by your inner journey of finding your own voice because you are a truth speaker, you can speak up, you’re comfortable in front of people, and then to be at the meeting and realize, have that moment of like, “If I was a man, I wouldn’t be acting like this.”

Tiffany:                    Right.

Brandy:                   That’s big.

Tiffany:                    It’s tough. It’s a challenge. But I am sensitive, you know I’m sensitive to insults, rejection now that I’m separated and divorced, but reteaching ourselves to speak up, it’s easier when we are doing it on behalf of other people. Like you say, it’s impressive that I do it, and it is, but it’s also because I’m not speaking up for myself. It’s easier to speak up on behalf of our children, or on behalf of other single moms, or working moms, or whatever.

Brandy:                   Right. So with your separation and divorce from your husband, was that something that was already in the works before you had your brain surgery?

Tiffany:                    Yes.

Brandy:                   Okay. Cuz I was wondering if it was a thing where you woke up from that and were like, “Oh my god, I never noticed but we need to change this,” or whatever. Okay.

Tiffany:                    Like a lot of separations, it was in the works for a long time.

Brandy:                   I saw you post on Facebook something about how – I don’t know if it was when you got elected and you went to that initial thing where they swore you in or however that works – but somebody told you not to bring your kids to that?

Tiffany:                    Yeah.

Brandy:                   Was that the women that was higher up or was that somebody different?

Tiffany:                    It was somebody different.

Brandy:                   And then you brought them anyway, which I loved because our new governor – I can’t remember on the post if you talked about him, how he brought his kids – and I think it’s so interesting how if a man in that position brings their kids, he can do it all. “He’s such a good father, look at him he’s a family man, and he’s got his business stuff down pat.” But a mom does it and it’s like, “Oh gosh, she’s going to be a mess.” I mean I don’t even know. I would imagine that’s maybe how people think. So what happened and how did you handle it?

Tiffany:                    I was told that my children were probably too young and would make a ruckus and that I shouldn’t bring them. And I said, “Is there a rule against it?” And they said no and then I said, “Then I’m going to have my mom swear me in, I don’t want the clerk to do it, I want my mom to do it. And I’m going to be holding my two kids.”

Brandy:                   So you were like, “I see your no kids, and I raise you all the kids…”

Tiffany:                    Three generations.

Brandy:                   “And my mom.”

Tiffany:                    Right? So before the meeting, before the swearing in, I brought the kids up to the dais, I let Laurel sit in my seat and Keith sit in my seat, and I was holding Keith as I was sworn in and Laurel was next to me and she held up her right hand to do the oath with me. And my mom administered the oath and at the end of the meeting, I actually made it a very specific point to comment that it was really nice hearing the laughter of children out in the lobby cause I had been coming to city council meetings for a while and I had never heard that before.

Brandy:                   Oh wow.

Tiffany:                    And it was because my girlfriends who have kids brought them too. To watch. But we should have kids as part of our government, they should be coming and they should be welcomed. Other cities have a couple of things that I would ideally like to see for our city. They’ve got childcare that happens when there are city council meetings.

Brandy:                   Oh wow, is this local?

Tiffany:                    Yeah.

Brandy:                   Which cities have this?

Tiffany:                    I think Tustin has it and Newport Beach, I believe.

Brandy:                   So that means that when you would go to any meetings, you wouldn’t have to get childcare it would just be there for you?

Tiffany:                    Right. Or you, as a constituent, if you wanted to come and speak at the meeting and you had your children, there would be somebody there to watch the children in a play room.

Brandy:                   That’s amazing.

Tiffany:                    Yes and that’s how it should be. Because otherwise we feel like we can’t participate. Other cities also have for council people who have young kids, they get a stipend to help pay for childcare for when they have those meetings. This is controversial and a lot of people don’t really support it, but a lot of people do because if you don’t have that stipend, then you have to pay for it yourself. And if you’re not independently wealthy, you can’t do it. If you’re gone two, three nights a week, it doesn’t make you a bad mother by the way either, it’s just babysitters add up.

Brandy:                   Yeah and so the only people who can participate are people who have a certain amount of privilege and those are the people who are making the laws that are affecting the other people who don’t have the privilege.

Tiffany:                    Right and they’re not even considering things that affect us on a daily basis. When our city council took a position on a school bond, not supporting it, and then the bond didn’t pass, there was a little bit of a blowback and the city decided that they were going to give some money to the school. This came out at the last meeting. And they did and it was great and it was 30 or 40 thousand dollars – earmarked for the weight room at the high school. No coincidence that the mayor’s sons are all in varsity football. Yeah, the other time we gave the school money it was earmarked for a new scoreboard at the football field.

Brandy:                   I’m just flattened.

Tiffany:                    It’s not in their purview to see the kindergartners don’t have enough science equipment or…

Brandy:                   They only have music half of the year.

Tiffany:                    Right.

Brandy:                   Cuz we don’t have funding.

Tiffany:                    So you need diversity out there, you need moms and you need people who are interested in different types of things so that everybody gets representation. But when you have a situation where it’s all men and they all have either grown kids or kids in high school, you’re not getting the people who have the young children in the public schools.

Brandy:                   I guess what blows my mind about it is when you become somebody who’s a public servant in this way, making laws, I would think one of just the intrinsic traits of a person like that would be somebody who can see and is interested in helping all the kinds of people. I mean, it also is somebody maybe who is into power, you know that sort of a thing, so it’s like that weird blend. But I cannot imagine being on city council or something of that nature and just catering it all towards your own children. What is the point of that? But I mean there’s also awful people out there.

Tiffany:                    I have a theory in a broader scale of that issue, and that is most of people in city council in general, not just in our city, have aspirations for higher office. Right, so they need to build up their name recognition and they need to do it with people who will vote for them so they become very partisan even at the city council level. But in my opinion, the problem in America is that so few people vote, that you only get the polar opposites, right? It’s the polar extremes, you get the people who are die-hard to the right, die-hard to the left, and so they need to pander to those people because those are the people that are voting.

Brandy:                   Good point.

Tiffany:                    Whereas the vast majority of Americans find themselves somewhere in the middle. And if we all had to vote, guess where the politicians would pander. They’d have to go toward the middle. But we don’t do it, so even at city council level, you see the partisanship coming out and the people just sort of looking at their future in the higher office and making decisions to appease themselves and those types of people. Our city tax dollars and time are wasted when they start focusing on their own political careers, or their own children, and not looking at the city as a whole.

Brandy:                   So do you have aspirations for higher office?

Tiffany:                    Probably not. I mean that doesn’t mean I won’t, I’m not foreclosing it, but I don’t really like politicians.

Brandy:                   Yeah. What would you say to other moms who find themselves in the position of feeling like they want to do something to help make the world, the nation, their city a better place for their kids. What sort of advice would you give them?

Tiffany:                    I mean the most obvious is do it. But I realize it’s much more complicated than that. It’s not just do it, it’s take in consideration what you can do, what you want to do. Running for office is not for everybody.

Brandy:                   So when you say that, so who is it for? What makes somebody a good candidate to actually be able to do this?

Tiffany:                    Give me the meaning of life. It has to be somebody who wants it, for a very specific reason. Everything else can fall into place with hard work. For me, having my mom, and Jared, and friends around was the most important thing. I couldn’t have done it without them.

Brandy:                   So if you’ve got a mom who maybe her husband works a lot, maybe she doesn’t live near family, doesn’t have a huge support network, that would maybe be somebody who it would be tough for?

Tiffany:                    It would be tough for, but don’t discount the network that you will come across when you’re running, like we talked about, those friends. So like I said, I go to these meetings and when I speak sometimes – when my son was a little baby – I would just, there’s a nice older lady who looks like she’s a grandma, and would probably like to hold a baby.

Brandy:                   Yes. Right. Yeah.

Tiffany:                    And usually they were. And people were very helpful so don’t discount the network that you have just within being woman. And you have to be able to take some criticism. Not to make them feel illegitimate, but if you’re one of those people that just crumbles under all criticism, any criticism, you won’t do well. You’ll get criticized for how you speak, what you wear, how you vote, what you say, everything. And most of that you just have to say okay and move on and keep going.

Brandy:                   So what would the first step be for somebody who was like, “You know what? I’ve been thinking about getting involved.” Would it be looking online at any of these programs like the Emerge one you talked about?

Tiffany:                    It’s looking at the programs or just reaching out to your… Let’s say you want to run for office. Reaching out to other people who have run successfully, unsuccessfully, and talk to them.

Brandy:                   What was the biggest surprising sacrifice that you had to make for this that you didn’t know you would be making going in?

Tiffany:                    Okay so this a joke. But people told me I would lose weight on that campaign trail. And they are liars. Yes, you are walking a lot and you are exercising probably more than you have but damn when you’re done like you want to go eat something that’s not healthy. So that was, I was surprised and annoyed with all the people who said, “Oh you’ll lose ten pounds!”

Brandy:                   That’s like with breastfeeding you know…

Tiffany:                    Yes.

Brandy:                   Where some people find it to be true but other people are like, “They lied to me. I thought this was going to be different.”

Tiffany:                    I’m just hungrier now. Like if you need to gain 20 pounds, run for office. That’s my advice.

Brandy:                   See, but we can’t say that cuz then nobody’s going to run.

Tiffany:                    True.

Brandy:                   This is why people sugarcoat things.

Tiffany:                    It’s really good food sometimes at those events.

Brandy:                   If we didn’t sugarcoat the things maybe nobody would do it.

Tiffany:                    True.

Brandy:                   I kind of feel that way about motherhood sometimes. I think people should be more real about what really is going on here. About how the sacrifice and the benefit sometimes feel real close. But then also maybe we shouldn’t be clear about that.

Tiffany:                    Maybe we would become extinct.

Brandy:                   Yeah I mean I wonder. But I’m all for informed consent.

Tiffany:                    Yes.

Brandy:                   So.

Tiffany:                    Get involved in city council. Anybody listening who wants to run, come and watch. There’s usually about three people in the audience. That’s a problem. You know, I mean we’ve had some ethical issues in our city and they go unchecked because nobody’s watching, so go and watch and see how people conduct themselves because we notice when people are there.

Brandy:                   Interesting. Are you nervous at all about people in the city listening to this? Or people that you’re on city council with listening to this podcast at all?

Tiffany:                    No. They know how I feel about them. I feel respect for them, but I differ significantly with a lot of their positions. I will never tell a colleague of mine that I feel the need to educate him. Can you tell that’s a sticking point for me?

Brandy:                   Yeah, I don’t blame you.

Tiffany:                    And I was embarrassed that I didn’t say something then and there but I don’t know if I should be embarrassed.

Brandy:                   And we can’t know sometimes. You know, when we’re figuring out these parts of ourselves. Sometimes we have to process it. But then the fact is you went back and then did.

Tiffany:                    Right.

Brandy:                   That’s the thing.

Tiffany:                    So no, I’m not worried about anybody, in fact I wish more people would pay attention to local politics. So to the extent I’m able to get people more involved to listen to these kind of things, to go to their city council meetings, that’s a good thing in my book. And if you are informed about me and my positions and that’s why you’re not voting for me, then I actually would like to thank you because thank you for getting informed. Maybe we disagree on issues, but that’s fine.

Brandy:                   Right, yeah just having people interested enough to care.

Tiffany:                    Right.

Brandy:                   And to form an opinion about it. Cuz apathy is probably worse than resistance.

Tiffany:                    Yes.

Brandy:                   In some ways.

Tiffany:                    Well I mean especially in this city and other cities as well, but when we vote, we fill out the ballot top to bottom. Most people don’t get all the way to the bottom. City council races are pretty much at the bottom of the ballot and by the time you get down there, because you’re uninformed, people say incumbents are doing a good job.

Brandy:                   It’s fine. Right.

Tiffany:                    I’m just going to keep voting for them and then nothing changes.

Brandy:                   And the people aren’t even aware of what’s happening. So it’s like this false sort of everything’s fine! But maybe not. Come check it out. Thank you so much for coming and doing this.

Tiffany:                    Thank you!

Brandy:                   I wasn’t sure when I reached out to you if you were going to say yes or not because you’re in this public office, and so do you really want to come do this, so then when you said yes, I was just thrilled because I’ve been wanting to know: how have you done this, what has this road been like for you? So, I just so appreciate you taking time out of your obviously crazy busy schedule to come here and be really honest. When you said that thing about you’re open and honest and that maybe that’s a problem or whatever, I was just like alright we’re good here, this is going to be great. And also it makes me so happy – even more happy – that you’re in office.

Tiffany:                    Thank you.

Brandy:                   I basically feel like you are a representative of me in the office, so now I can relax a little bit on that and know you’ve got it taken care of.

Tiffany:                    I don’t know if I’ve got it taken care of, but I’m trying.

Brandy:                   Yeah, you’re doing great.

Tiffany:                    Thank you.

Brandy:                   Hey, so after I recorded this interview with Tiffany and I’d had time to think about it, I realized that maybe the first step to supporting women, moms and other unrepresented people is positions such as city council, is just simply showing up to the meetings without even having anything to say. Although saying something would be cool too. But even just showing up as an ally, to show all the council members that someone is watching. Kind of like escorting your friend to their car late at night. We just feel safer in numbers. Just a thought. As always, thank you so much for listening.

** As always, thank you to Scott Weigel and his band, Seahorse Moon, for providing me with that jaunty intro and outro music. You guy are awesome. Check ’em out on iTunes.