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Rachel May, NY Senate Candidate

September 3, 2018

What do you do if you’re naturally shy but you've got something important to say? If you’re Rachel May, you run for office. And then you win. Rachel is a political newcomer from Syracuse, NY who is running as the Democratic candidate for NY State Senate. In this video learn how she overcame her fears to stand up for what she believes in.

Rachel’s husband, Frank

Although she had no experience in elected office, Rachel felt compelled to step WAY outside of her comfort zone when Republicans started talking about lifetime caps on health insurance in 2017. That struck a very personal chord for her because her husband died of brain cancer at the age of 32. His greatest fear before he died was that his medical care would saddle her with debt for the rest of her life. She knew that’s something that no one should have to worry about and she knew she had to do something about it.

Although Rachel had no prior experience in politics, fighting for Democratic ideals runs in the family.  One grandfather went to Germany after World War II to help establish democracy, the other lost his job as a professor at the University of California for refusing to sign the McCarthy loyalty oath and then became a major civil rights supporter.  Her grandmother, LaRee Caughey, was born to a deeply racist family in Alabama and also became a civil rights activist in California. Her father was a professor of American history at Harvard for 50 years, and her daughter plans to be a union organizer when she graduates from college.

Rachel’s grandmother, LaRee

So Rachel knew she had something to say and she was not going to let her natural shyness and inexperience stand in her way.  To overcome her fear of public speaking, she joined her local Toastmasters club where she learned to hone her communication and public speaking skills. She got experience in local politics by volunteering for her local government in Syracuse.  While there may be some people who are born politicians, the fact is that these are skills that anyone can learn.

Rachel’s real race took place in the Democratic primary where her opponent was one of a group of eight deeply corrupt Democrats in the state senate known as the Independent Democratic Conference, or the IDC. In exchange for money and perks, IDC members voted with the Republicans, effectively keeping the Republicans in control despite a Democratic majority. This power-sharing agreement prevented NY State from making meaningful progress on climate change, women's reproductive rights, voting reform, campaign finance and ethics reform and more. Is it easy for someone with no political experience to take on entrenched corruption? No! It's incredibly scary! Is it necessary for someone to do it so that NY can reflect the will of the majority of its voters? YES! That's one reason why Rachel May is a New Face of Democracy.

Rachel and her daughter, Sophie

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