Live Bold

Get into politics as though your life depended on it.
It does. – Justin Dart

The decision to run for political office is about passion, conviction, and the belief to make a difference. These are all characteristics Seema Singh possessed when she entered the race for the NJ State Senate -14th District, making her the first Indian American woman to run for state senate. She faced challenges similar to every electoral candidate- getting the vote out among her potential constituency, fundraising, debating, speechmaking, seeking endorsements, etc. Seema also walked through a door of opportunity to level the playing field of money in the NJ pilot program for Clean Elections. The 14th district was chosen to participate in this program.

The Clean Elections pilot program sought to “even the playing field” in three selected districts in New Jersey, with qualified candidates foregoing special interest money when they raised $10 donations from registered voters in the district. The threshold was between 400-800 individual donations to qualify for public funding for their campaign activities. Seema moved out of her legal comfort zone to the homes, community centers, and streets of the people and their concerns. Her conversations were rich, rewarding, and robust, and Seema’s attention to detail, researching issues and information problem solving did not go unnoticed by citizens in the 14th district. On the contrary, it was Seema’s vigilance that 14th District voters noticed and acknowledged with their $10 contributions. As a result, Seema was the first candidate in the election to meet the Clean Election funding requirements with 800 individual donations. It guaranteed her a level of equal access to debate the incumbent, not once but three times.

Seema’s skill reservoir and power lessons of pros and cons grew exponentially. Her campaign found energy in mobilizing the community, extensive voter registration, giving new voice to those dissatisfied across race, gender, and economic lines. Here, Seema discovered the noble place of politics—the real transfer of power into the hands of the people. Daily issues of EVERY category such as housing, health, energy, environment, education, and researching information and law for good old-fashioned answers were constantly in the foreground process of representing the people.

Although defeated in the Senate race, Seema continues her visibility and action at the local and state levels, finding that enduring relationships, networks, and contacts are the lasting building blocks of a this type of public journey. She characterizes her efforts of the hard-fought campaign with a strategic eye for helping others learn from her electoral politics run. When the day returns, Seema Singh’s results were sufficiently notable to fortify her for another turnstile entrance to politics and beyond.