Pagans and Heathens in elected office: an update

Cara Schulz —  November 8, 2017 — Leave a comment

HIGH POINT, NC – Megan Longstreet, an openly-Pagan candidate running for High Point City Council, lost her race to Monica Peters. While the the incumbent did not seek reelection, she endorsed Peters, who won with 80% of the vote.

While disappointed by the results, Ms. Longstreet had kind words for her supporters, “I thank everyone who helped me throughout my campaign and everyone who came out and voted for me.”

Longstreet ran as a Democrat on a platform of what she calls progressive values. That platform included LGBTQ rights, creation of a living wage, ending systemic racism, ending the war on drugs, and universal single payer healthcare.

Longstreet says she plans to run for elected office again in the future.

[Photo Credit: Vox Efx / Flickr]

Elected Pagans
Currently, there are three Pagans holding elected office. In Virginia, Lonnie Murray serves as Director of the Thomas Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District. In Maine, Thaum Gordon is Supervisor for Cumberland Soil and Water Conservation District. In Minnesota, Cara Schulz is on the Burnsville City Council.*

Mr. Murray, who identifies as an Animist, was first elected in 2011 and reelected in 2015. He will not face reelection until 2019 and is not sure if he will run again for that seat or pursue a seat on the Planning Commission some time in the future.

Likewise, Mr. Gordon, who is an eclectic Druid, was also first elected in 2011 and reelected in 2015. Gordon says although he plans to continue in public service, he’s not sure what his specific plans are. His seat is up election in 2018.

Gordon’s advice to aspiring Pagans considering running for office is to be a Pagan, but run as a citizen.

“Start small. Volunteer for local appointed boards, conservation commissions, planning boards, water and sewer districts, conservation districts. All of these have to meet the needs of constituents, while balancing budgets and conflicting public needs. Do your best and see where it leads you.”

Murray says Pagans shouldn’t underestimate how a motivated engaged person can have a big impact on local government. If a Pagan or Heathen decides to run for office he says that they shouldn’t wait until they announce their run to become involved in local issues.

“Make sure voters already see that you have a record of engaging and participating in issues that matter,” Murray says. “After that, it becomes a game of who can knock on the most doors.”

Murray notes that the most satisfying part of his time in elected office is seeing how local initiatives, which he has helped with, have grown and impacted his community.

What he finds frustrating is that his department gets much of its funding as pass through grants from the EPA, and the next fiscal year many of his initiatives could lose funding due to what he describes as ”poor decisions being made at the White House.”

Gordon says that he’s been blessed with a happy and healthy life and feels service to others is his way of repaying those blessings. He adds that he is frustrated with how many view politics as a win or lose game and refuse to compromise.

“None of us have a monopoly on truth or righteousness, and our governments will only work if we listen to those we disagree with.”

 

*Editor’s Note: Cara Schulz, the writer of the article, sits on her local city council, winning her election last November.

Cara Schulz

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Cara Schulz is a journalist and author living in Minnesota with her husband and cat. She has previously written for PAGAN+politics, PNC-Minnesota, and Patheos. Her work has appeared in several books by Bibliotheca Alexandrina and she's the author of Martinis & Marshmallows: A Field Guide to Luxury Tent Camping and (Almost) Foolproof Mead Making. She loves red wine, camping, and has no tattoos.