Need inspiration? Read Christy Smith’s empowering speech to these Girl Scouts
“I want you to know…” she told them, “I want you to know how much I believe in you.”
Just weeks before the Nov. 6 election, California’s 38th Assembly candidate Christy Smith spent a night in front of a room full of people who won’t be able to vote for ten years or more.
Dozens of Girl Scouts sat crisscross applesauce on the floor of the North Park Elementary multipurpose room, giggling and nudging each other as a grown up running to be a statewide leader tried to keep their attention.
The event called “Girl Scout The Vote” was no place for a campaign stump speech. There were only a few parents anyway, most of them distracted in the background setting up patriotic-themed crafts for the girls to do after Smith’s brief talk.
After being introduced by Troop 1122 leader Anayeli Lopez, Smith got right to business.
But the candidate didn’t tout her accomplishments on the Newhall School District board. She didn’t dive into her proposals to improve schools, clean air and water, or public safety. She certainly didn’t reiterate her pledge to preserve Prop 13 homeowner protections. (The girls would have discovered a new appreciation for naps if she had.)
Instead Smith talked to them about trying to be heard.
And what she said made even the busy adults stop and listen.
Smith began by talking about homework — explaining that on some ballots voters will have nearly 50 choices to make.
“That’s a lot of responsibility,” Smith said, pacing before the sea of brown and green vests. “That’s a lot to learn about all those different things on the ballot.”
Then began the magic trick, yard signs, rally banners, and buttons emerged from out of nowhere. She talked about interviews, and newspapers, and meetings like this — all the hard work a candidate has to do to earn an even harder job in government.
“In order to get chosen for that job, I need votes, and I need to communicate with people who are voting,” Smith said. “I’m sharing my ideas with them and making sure they understand that I’m an option for them to vote on.”
The more she talked about being heard, the closer everyone listened.
Then Smith began telling them about something she could see, right there in the room. She made sure the girls could see it, too: Whether Smith wins on Nov. 6 or not, there were future leaders among them in the North Park multipurpose room.
“I want you to know,” she told them, “I want you to know how much I believe in you. I believe in the idea you could do this job someday, too.”
“This is the way I started when I was your age, helping my community and being a community servant and thinking about serving in government later on,” Smith said. “I was a Girl Scout. I was a Brownie. I was a Junior.
“Starting where you are now, diligently earning your badges and supporting your community, being a good community helper … all of those things make for a great background to someday do this kind of job. I want to encourage you all to make the most of tonight, learn everything you can.
“I’m super proud of you that you are here.”
Smith was standing in front of a room full of little girls, but she was speaking to the women they would someday become.
The moms watching definitely understood, as one told The Santa Clarita Proclaimer:
“Some people might wonder why a group of candidates with just weeks before the election would spend Friday night talking to a room full of Girl Scouts who are too young to vote,” said Shelley Preston, one of the leaders of event organizers Troop 1122. “They’re dedicated to growing Santa Clarita’s future generation of leaders.”
Other area candidates also attended “Girl Scout The Vote,” but it wasn’t a night of speeches. Instead, they were volunteers helping host the craft workshops as the girls rotated through each station.
Chris Trunkey, who is running for re-election in Trustee Area 5 of the Saugus Union School Board, oversaw the “Landmark Detective” session, taking the girls on a sort of whirlwind scavenger hunt through the various parks and famous places in California.
Laura Arrowsmith, a West Ranch High School history teacher who is running for Trustee Area 2 on the Saugus Union board, guided Girl Scouts through “Go Inside Government” station, which used colorful concentric circles to explain the levels of leadership — from the micro-level of who is in charge at home and school (parents and teachers) to city, state, and national leadership offices.
Diane Trautman, a 12-year Santa Clarita city planner who is running for one of the three open City Council seats, participated in a press conference scenario called “Report on the Issues,” in which the Girl Scouts learned about freedom of speech by asking anything they liked. Joining Trautman was another local politician — Sammie Armitage, who is the president of the student body at a local middle school.
Finally, Brett Haddock, a Canyon Country board of supervisors member who is also running for one of the three open seats on the Santa Clarita City Council, was the emcee for a debate and an actual vote.
One Junior and one Brownie each made a speech about plastic straws. The Brownie argued they should be outlawed, the Junior tried to convince the fellow Girl Scouts that they should remain legal.
Afterward, the debate audience would line up and fill out a paper ballot with their choice. (Banning plastic straws won by a narrow margin.)
Other stations run by troop leaders included “Be An Active Citizen,” in which they made signs about issues they cared about; writing “Postcards to Voters” to tell the adults in their lives why it was important to cast a ballot, since the girls are still too young to do it themselves; and finally “Coloring the California Flag” and learning about state symbols.
As The Proclaimer reported, “Leaders of the Girl Scout the Vote gathering hoped the event would be bipartisan, but only Democratic candidates agreed to attend.” Congressman Steve Knight, Assemblyman Dante Acosta, and the Santa Clarita Young Republicans club were invited and permitted to send staffers if the candidate was busy, but they did not reply, organizers said.
Since it was a Girl Scout event, of course … there were cookies.
At the end of the night, all of the girls got to take home sugar cookies decorated to look like Christy Smith, Diane Trautman, and Brett Haddock.
The cookies disappeared fast, but hopefully the girls took home something that will last a lot longer.