When I declared my candidacy for Town Council, the party establishment told me it would be a nearly impossible year for a non-incumbent to win. It was clear I was the newcomer and the underdog, and I would be running without any establishment backing. I would need to build a campaign relying solely on grassroots support. I would need to build authentic relationships and partnerships as I worked. And I would need to work hard.

What was intended as a dismissal was wonderfully good news. Rather than relying on traditional political connections, I have been out on the campaign trail speaking with real people. I have reached out to people and community groups from all walks of life to ensure I am hearing a diverse range of perspectives.

As the youngest person in this race (and as a young woman in particular), it’s easy for people to make assumptions about who I am and what I stand for. Some are surprised to learn that as part of my “day job,” I work alongside police, fire, and rescue. I respond on scene and intervene in mental health or substance use emergencies. Previously, I have worked in public policy, non-profit development, and healthcare management, focusing much of my career in working with veterans, unions, and first responders.

Through my professional experiences, I have learned how essential it is that people from diverse backgrounds move past ideological or professional differences to work toward a common goal: bettering our shared community. I understand how to work across cultures and across divides to build consensus and unity. It’s what I do every day, and it’s how I built a grassroots campaign to stay in this race when establishment leaders dismissed me out of hand.

I am running a campaign based on the ideals of service to others, inclusion, empowerment, and respect for self-determination. These values inform my social work practice. They inform my candidacy, too. The response has been overwhelming: North Kingstown has had enough of petty party politics, and is ready to elect leaders who know how to listen and how to get things done.

I hope I win in November, because if I do, I’m bringing with me the voices, struggles, hopes, challenges, and strengths of the diverse constituents with whom I engage daily. But regardless of outcome, it will have been worth it. It’s worth it to amplify and uplift voices from community members long overlooked by our traditional power structures. It’s worth it to see hope and motivation in the faces of your fellow residents.

I offer this letter as invitation to the people of North Kingstown: please, join our political process. I know there are many of you who are passionate about our community, but who look at our entrenched, “old guard” political system and think, “I could never break through.” You can. You can volunteer, work the polls, display a lawn sign, talk to your friends and family about making a plan to vote, or simply take the time to learn more about state and local races. Your experience is valuable, and your perspective matters.

Katherine Anderson

North Kingstown

The author is a candidate for North Kingstown Town Council

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