Rachel Hundley, the 33-year-old mayor of Sonoma in California, says that she had been uninterested in politics for most of her life. After losing her job at a New York City law firm, the Charleston, South Carolina native moved out to Sonoma, California, where she opened a Southern cuisine food truck business. A year later, Hundley Googled “how to run a campaign” and made a run for an open seat on the Sonoma city council, reaching out to council members and locals in an effort to better understand how she could make a difference in her community. By Election Day in 2014, she won a seat on the council, ousting a 16-year incumbent and former mayor.
For Kathy King, executive director of Sonoma Overnight Support, the arrival of Hundley on the scene was a godsend. King had been trying to convince the council to allow a town parking lot to be used as “safe parking” for homeless people who lived in their cars, but was met with little success. After meeting with Hundley and introducing her to the people living at the shelter, Hundley swiftly proved herself a force of change. With Hundley leading the push, the council approved King’s program by September.
“Rachel stood up for us. She read the material, she did the homework so when she asked questions they were good and then she spoke for [the homeless],” said King. “This is a very rich city, let’s face it, it wasn’t a popular thing to do, but she did it. We need people with her energy and time and smarts.”
89 percent of young people say they never intend to run for office, according to a 2012 study from American University. But after the runaway success of the Women’s March on Washington, which became the largest protest in United States history after an estimated half-million protestors in Washington D.C. and between 3.6 and 4.6 million people countrywide took to the streets on Saturday, many are hoping that more young women follow Hundley’s lead and assume leadership – including Hundley herself.
“One of the things I was proud of was I heard from other young adults that they want to be more involved,” said Hundley. “I sensed a greater commitment from younger people to get involved and stay involved. [The march] was a successful way to energize.”
Read the full story at the Washington Post.