In Episode 100, Quinn & Brian discuss: Why state elections matter not just for your state but for the future of our planet.
Our guests are: Aimy Steele & Amanda Litman. Aimy is a candidate for the North Carolina House of Representatives in District 82, a mother of five, a former Spanish teacher, and a former K-12 principal. Amanda is the co-founder and Executive Director of Run For Something, a PAC that is recruiting and supporting young progressives who want to run for state and local elections. They’re endorsing more than 500 candidates in the 2020 elections, primarily women and people of color, and they’re inviting all of us to take an active role in writing a new future for our country.
And let me tell you -- if those 500 candidates are even half as inspiring as Aimy, we’re in for one hell of a new generation of state representatives. Aimy represents one of those rare times when we get the hero we need and they’re so much better than we deserve. Really, we probably do deserve a horde of bitter white men who all go to the same discount barber, but our world will be so much better off if we elevate diverse voices who actually know how to help our country’s diverse communities. So, please, use your voice, your vote, and your dollar to help Aimy and the other 500+ candidates get into office in 2020 — also, while you’re there, please vote for Biden. (We know, we’re not happy about it either.)
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Quinn: Welcome to Important, Not Important. My name is Quinn Emmett.
Brian: And my name is Brian Colbert Kennedy.
Quinn: And this is the podcast where we give you the tools you need to fight for a better future for everyone. We give you the context straight from the smartest people on earth, and the action steps you can take to support them.
Brian: That's the important part the action steps. Our guests have been scientists and doctors, nurses, journalists, engineers. I'm not done yet, farmers, politicians and activists, educators, business leaders, astronauts, reverends stop me now Quinn.
Quinn: Uh huh. Yep, nope, I'm not going to. And they are some of the smartest, most important people on earth and they've got the tools you need and the context you need to make this place a little bit better. This is your friendly reminder you can send questions, thoughts and feedback to us on Twitter @importantnotimp, or you can email us at funtalk@ImportantNotImportant.com.
Brian: And you can join tens of thousands of other smart people and subscribe to our free weekly newsletter at ImportantNotImportant.com.
Quinn: That's right.
Brian: That's right.
Quinn: Brian. This week's episode, very exciting, sort of a special one, election themed. We are getting into the heart of why state elections matter now. And forever.
Brian: That's true. And boy, do we have some wonderful women talking with us.
Quinn: Oh boy.
Brian: I mean, oh, boy. Seriously, what an incredible episode. Our guests are Aimy Steele and Amanda Litman. Returning for the second time Amanda Litman. I mean, they are inspiring, action oriented women, they are writing a new future for this country. And seriously, you have to be happy to listen to this episode everyone, if you listen to one, listen to this one.
Quinn: Stick around to the end. Because I mean, it just gets better and better. What a day. We were very lucky to have this conversation and they are truly building and are the new building blocks of American democracy. No biggie.
Brian: No biggie. Very excited to share this with you guys.
Quinn: So inspired. Anyways, let's go talk to these amazing women. Let's go talk to Aimy and Amanda.
Brian: Let's do it.
Quinn: Our guests today are Aimy Steele and returning for some reason for her second appearance the great Amanda Litman and together we are talking about why state elections matter for well, your state, but also for the future of a livable planet for everyone. Aimy and Amanda, welcome.
Aimy Steele: Thank you.
Amanda Litman: Thanks, Quinn.
Aimy Steele: Thank you for having us.
Quinn: Yeah, absolutely.
Brian: We're so excited you're here.
Quinn: So excited.
Brian: Thank you for being here.
Brian: Can we get started by, ladies telling everybody quickly who you are and what you do? Maybe we can start with you, Aimy.
Aimy Steele: Okay, great. So thank you so much for having me. I'm Aimy Steele from North Carolina. I am a mom of five amazing kids, married to my husband, Michael for 21 years. And I'm a candidate for the North Carolina House of Representatives. I'm a former teacher, a Spanish teacher and former K-12 School principle. So that's kind of my background. But I grew up all over the world having been a military child, and we eventually settled in North Carolina, went to college here and then became a teacher and a principal and decided to run for office. So that's me, in a nutshell.
Quinn: Holy cow. Okay. That's incredible.
Brian: Love it.
Quinn: That's awesome. Amanda, What's your story? Remind the people.
Brian: Yeah, please Amanda.
Amanda Litman: I'm Amanda Litman. I am one of the co-founders and executive director of Run for Something. I'm a campaign hack. So I worked for Obama, for Hillary, for the Florida governor's race. We launched Run for Something in 2017 thinking it'd be small instead in the first now four years we've had more than 62,000 young people all across the country tell us they want to run. We've endorsed nearly 1,500. This fall alone, we will have more than 500 on the ballot predominantly women, and black, indigenous people of color. And they're amazing people like Aimy. So I am thrilled to talk about our candidates and local elections and redistricting and everything that you guys have in mind for today.
Quinn: And Amanda, correct me if I'm wrong here. You don't want to spend this time talking about the Washington Nationals being the world champions, correct. Or you do, if you could...
Amanda Litman: I mean, I am so complicated... Quinn we talk about this all the time. The Nationals are the reigning world champion and since I choose to believe that this season didn't really count, they're still the world champions of my heart. So-
Quinn: It's true. It's true. We're just carrying it right over. Sorry, Aimy. We're promised we're going to get to it.
Brian: Sorry Aimy and sorry, Brian. Okay, I don't care about the Washington Nationals.
Quinn: All right, anyway.
Brian: All right.
Quinn: Quick reminder for everyone. And for you ladies, our goal on the show as always to of course, provide some context for our question or our topic of the day and then really dig into an action oriented questions about it, and what everybody out there can do to help support you and support our goals. Does that sound great?
Aimy Steele: Sounds great. Let's get it.
Amanda Litman: [inaudible 00:05:18]
Quinn: Awesome. Amanda is going to remember this part, maybe? Or maybe not, which is great. Either way, don't cheat and tell Aimy.
Brian: She probably put it out of her mind.
Quinn: I'm sure I would, too.
Quinn: Aimy, instead of saying, tell us your life story as amazing as that sounds, oh, my gosh. We do like to ask Aimy, why do you feel like you are vital to the survival of the species?
Aimy Steele: Right, well, that is a loaded question.
Quinn: Be bold, please.
Aimy Steele: Yes, yes. Well, I believe I'm vital number one, because I'm diverse. Too many times, we've seen lots of voices at the table to try to, quote unquote, save humanity or propose ideas that may, in fact, help everyone. But those voices are often majority voices, predominantly white voices, or voices that have been heard for decades and decades. And not racially diverse, or age diverse, or gender diverse. And so I bring all of that to the table. As an endorsed candidate by Run for Something and many other endorsees or endorsement organizations, rather, I am the endorsee, right?
Brian: Whatever you say,
Aimy Steele: Yeah, we'll go-
Quinn: You're in charge now.
Brian: Yeah, that's right.
Aimy Steele: But as an endorsed candidate, one of the things that I bring to the table is my youth and my vibrance. I'm not that young. But I'm young enough to be able to say that I'm a member of Gen X slash millennial generation. And that voice in and of itself is not a voice that's taken seriously, I think, at legislative tables or in political spaces. Being a black woman is a whole different paradigm shift that needs to be introduced to the conversation. And it's time for us to step up and make sure we have that voice displayed at decision making tables.
Aimy Steele: So that's why I... That's how I show up. But that's also why I'm showing up in a space and a time where it's absolutely essential to hear diverse voices, as we make laws and policies. I mean, let's face it, our world and our nation are so diverse. We're very diverse in America, but we think it's kind of all on us. And we're the only ones that kind of look like us. But there's a completely diverse world, as I'm sure you all know about. And we need to honor that by having diverse voices at the decision making tables.
Quinn: That sounds amazing. The only thing I heard is that somehow you still are vibrant, despite five children and I've got three and I'm dying inside. I don't totally understand.
Aimy Steele: Why.
Quinn: I mean, look, they're they're so great. They're so great. I'm just so tired. You know?
Aimy Steele: Yeah, they're exhausting.
Quinn: Here, you're a hero. You're a hero. All right.
Brian: This is why you're not running for office, Quinn, and Aimy is.
Quinn: Well, I mean, thank for everyone's benefit, thank God.
Brian: For everyone, thank God.
Quinn: Aimy, thank you for that candid and thoughtful and inspiring answer. I really appreciate it. And we appreciate everything you are doing and have done so far. So let's get into that. Folks, you might know there's an election coming, hopefully. And good news is after 2018 results, or 20... In the off year, some of the other states like Virginia, you might be aware that there are other elected offices besides president and the Senate and the US House that might have actually been the first time you really paid attention to the House and who your representative was.
Quinn: Or maybe even the first time you paid attention to state elections, all of which is vitally important, because, among other reasons, when there's a massive galactic void of federal leadership, states, and I guess this is how America was kind of designed for better or worse, can actually get some shit done on their own, or in concert with other states when they have to, or need to, or want to. On education, or COVID, or jobs or climate. All those things, or they don't.
Quinn: And that depends on who's in those state offices and who's in power. And also that depends on who is eligible to vote for them and in each district. And that in itself is complicated, but we are working to make it so that more people can vote and more people can run and we can put better people in offices to try to do this whole thing. And that's part of what we're talking about today with our guest which is really about why state elections and a district like Aimy's is so important.
Quinn: Aimy from everything I've gathered, you mentioned this, the easy question is like in the past few years, you've been a writer, an entrepreneur, a school principal, like you said, you're a mother of five. At what point did you go you know I feel like I have too much free time, I should run for office in a red district. And was that before or after you got your PhD? So that's the easy question right? At the same time, I remember like six days from the past 10 years. So I don't understand how you do all this. But this is actually your second shot at this seat. What made you come back and do it all again?
Aimy Steele: Okay, so let's start from the didn't have much time. Or had a lot of time, spare time. As a mom of five, you never have time, you don't even have time to think about not having time. And so that is the key point as to why we need more women, more moms to step up and run for office. Because women have this innate ability to balance things and to prioritize things and to still get things done. Because we're great... I won't say we're great multi-taskers, I will say we're great... We can tell people or invite people into our space to help us with things. And we can delegate well, so that's number one. I do have a very supportive husband, very supportive family, my kids are amazing. They drive me nuts, don't get me wrong, you can check out my podcast on that, because they drive me nuts. And that's a whole nother thing.
Aimy Steele: But essentially, I am a person of duty and obligation. And I think that's super important. I grew up in a military family. And we only had one mission and one vision. And that was whatever the task was at hand that was the mission. And so when I graduated college and went to teach, and then started working as a teacher, my mission was to teach kids Spanish. So I went after that mission as hard as I could. And I succeeded in that mission. But then other things presented themselves that made me think "I need to become a principal," because that was the only seat of power that would allow me to do other things that I wanted to do. So that became the mission.
Aimy Steele: And so when I became a principal the mission was, well, I want to continue to clarify my beliefs in public education. So I got a PhD. That was the mission. And in doing all of that, I learned about more inequities in systems of education, more issues, more challenges and more problems that hadn't been addressed yet. When that became my new mission, "I thought, how else am I going to do this? Stay a principal become a superintendent, or something else?" And I will never forget this day, I received a call in December, no in November of 2017. And it was from my assistant superintendent at the time. And she told me that essentially, the North Carolina General Assembly had passed a law that stated that class sizes needed to be smaller.
Aimy Steele: Well, as a teacher, as a principal, theoretically, that is a fantastic idea. It's kind of like, it's a great idea to make your lunch the day before school until you wake up and then go school, have your lunch, and you're like, this is a terrible idea. I should have waited, made it in the morning so it's fresh. But anyway, it sounded like a fantastic idea. But when you actually shift the kids around and shift the teachers around, what you unfortunately do is cause higher class sizes to be in higher grades. So from K through third grade class sizes, were going to be reasonable and wonderful.
Aimy Steele: But the teacher assistants were going to go away. Well, that's a problem, in elementary schools if you all have ever had kids in elementary school. The next issue was that the class sizes in fourth grade through 12th grade were going to explode. So we have fourth grade classes with like, 35 kids, that is a recipe for disaster. We had high school classes with 40 kids, that's disastrous, if there ever was such a thing. I've taught high school. I've been an assistant principal in high school. That's not good. So we saw that happening. And when my assistant superintendent called and said, "Make room for five more teachers." I said, "Excuse me, how do you make room for five more teachers in a landlocked building filled with asbestos from 1963?" Like, how does that work?
Quinn: Right? This isn't Dr. Who. It's not bigger on the inside.
Aimy Steele: And I couldn't just put a trailer on the front yard because oh we already had two of those that were dilapidated. So I'm not sure how that was supposed to happen. So I said, "Well, I'm really confused as to how I'm going to do this, because I don't have any more space in the building." And she said, "Well, you have to be creative, because the General Assembly said, so like, this is what you have to do. It's the law." And I said, "Wait, who made the stupid law?" And she said "The General Assembly." And I said "You know what, I'm going to fix that. So that became my new mission." Because what I faced was having to take the library, the PE or the gymnasium, the music teacher's classroom, the art teacher's classroom, and the cafetorium, which is a fancy word for cafeteria and auditorium together. So I had to take the stage, okay, in the cafetorium.
Aimy Steele: Which meant that essentially, we would only be separating the kids in the classroom on the stage, from the kids eating lunch for two and a half hours a day with a thick curtain. That's it. So that's not what any school should look like. So I decided to run for office, that became my new mission. So it's really all about the mission, you kind of take care of the circumstances, aside from the mission. But when you're mission focused, you just got to get her done. And that's what I signed up to do. And it didn't quite work out the first time. So I'm trying again, this second time, and boy are we on fire.
Brian: Hell yeah. Was that was there any talk... So sorry, quickly when you came up with the word cafetorium of it being auditoria?
Aimy Steele: We did not talk about it.
Quinn: That's the question
Brian: There's many questions. I figured you would ask the other ones.
Quinn: I'm sorry Aimy.
Aimy Steele: I was saying I love it. I'm sorry. I love it.
Quinn: Oh, God. All the time you're never going to get back here. So on that note a perfect little segue thank you, about how you decided to run and you've decided to come back. Amanda, let's talk about what's changed since the last time we spoke and how you've spent the past few years doing less doom scrolling in bed like, probably Brian and more of, building up a young, diverse progressive American bench from the ground up. This sort of... Aimy part of why she's running again unable to run a grant, I imagine is because some maps were redrawn. And that's a lot of what is on the line for you, isn't it? Cabarrus County is a perfect example of what we're fighting for. Is that right?
Aimy Steele: That's correct. And so I love y'all, but I'm going to tell you how to pronounce it.
Aimy Steele: Cabarrus.
Quinn: Say it again. Cabarrus?
Aimy Steele: Cabarrus.
Quinn: Damnit, I'm sorry.
Brian: Cabarrus, we should have ask about pronunciation of names.
Quinn: I'm sorry. We always ask. I couldn't even get my computer to work this morning. Much less... Anyways.
Aimy Steele: Right? Because I don't want you to be Cabarrused.
Quinn: Oh, that's so good.
Brian: See, we're having with words this episode.
Quinn: You guys, you Aimy, you and Brian could just have a spin off and just talk about puns the entire time.
Brian: Can we please?
Quinn: That's amazing.
Aimy Steele: But yes. The district was redrawn. And yes, Cabarrus County became a toss up county. And so now we are extremely competitive. I was actually just on a call with my consultant team. And they said my race is the most expensive race if not the second or third, but they think it's the most expensive race in the state, due to the lines being redrawn more fairly. And now there is fair competition between me and my opponent.
Quinn: That must be nice. Amanda, tell us about how like this is all going according to your grand plan.
Amanda Litman: It is. It's 100% according to grand plan. And so we probably spoke like two years ago, a year and a half ago.
Brian: Trying to think about [inaudible 00:17:45].
Quinn: Time is a flat circle. Who-
Amanda Litman: Time is meaningless. But basically since even the first three years Run for Something has helped elect more than 300 people across 45 states. We flipped state legislative seats in 20 states, 54% of our winners are women. 47% are black, indigenous people of color. They're amazing. And they have really moved the needle in each of their offices, from judge Lina Hidalgo in Texas who's running Harris County where Houston is and is basically the only major elected official in Texas taking the pandemic seriously. To the Virginia State Legislature where they ratified the Equal Rights Amendment, expanded Medicaid to more than 400,000 Virginians. To Anna Eskamani in the statehouse in Florida, who is up at all hours of the night, literally one by one helping her constituents navigate the quite intentionally broken unemployment insurance program there.
Amanda Litman: It has been remarkable to see people go from person to candidate to elected official and equally as remarkable to see people who we worked with in 2017 and 2018, who may have come up short, who are running again. So like Aimy's a great example of this and one of the reasons I'm so glad she's here today. Two thirds of the people we worked with in 2018 told us they were thinking about running again, sometime in the future, for the folks who could, many of them are now. And what I think is an important perspective to bring to electoral politics. for most people, and most political organizations, most donors, you think about it in maybe one year cycles, or two year cycles at most. 2020 really started for most people and like, mid-2018, early 2019 if you were lucky, or baby maybe even... Or I guess, mid-2019 or early 2020, I should say.
Amanda Litman: And but for people like alien for Run for Something the work for 2020 and for 2022 started four years ago. It started two years ago, and you have to lose a little in order to win big eventually. So if you think about politics and outside of like a single election cycle, you can start to see how this builds on top of itself. So when Aimy wins in November, which I have no doubt she's going to, she's an incredible candidate running a great campaign. It is no small part because she ran in 2018 and laid the groundwork for it. And that is true across the country. So as I think about the big picture, we have 500 candidates on the ballot in November, I expect half of them to win, if not more. In no small part because some of them we've been working with for four years now. That's huge. That's a long time to really engage with a campaign. I'm excited. I'm pumped. This is the Grand Master Plan. You're right.
Quinn: I can't think of two folks I'd rather have more in charge of the Grand Master Plan than you and Aimy. Please, please. But it speaks to momentum. I mean, we had this lost decade, you read this thing... There's this incredible, you can find it online, we'll put in the show notes. Karl Rove wrote an article in 2010, where he literally just like... It's like the end of an Austin Powers movie where he was like, "Here's our plan for the next 10 years." And then they did that, and we didn't do any of it. And now we have this momentum, because of groups like yours over the past few years of rebuilding of rebuilding.
Quinn: And not just, again, and we'll get into this in a second. But not just putting people in place in school boards and state houses and further, where they can have maximum impact locally. But also putting people in those places who can have an impact there and then be this grassroots element to grow into our more national representatives. So building this groundswell of people. And both of those things are so vitally important, and we have to do and we have to do it, because it takes time. It's like, to come back to the Washington Nationals. It's like having a great farm system. You got to grow these people from the ground up. And Aimy, I spend most of my time in Los Angeles. I'm from Virginia, and I'm actually here now.
Quinn: And because of folks like Amanda, and all those people that ran in Virginia, Virginia is like a completely different state than it was 18 months ago. Like you said, from the ERA, to reproductive rights, to marijuana to clean energy to voting, it went from like, in a week, one of the most difficult places to vote in America to one of the easiest, and it's incredible, and I'm so proud of... There's still so much work to do. But I'm so proud of that. And also, it's just this poster, you want to hang up and shake and look what you can do, you can make such a difference. It can make such a difference. So I'm all for the momentum there.
Amanda Litman: I think that's exactly right. And like what happens, especially when you think about how stagnant things have been in Washington. You're like, God love members of Congress, that seems like a terrible fucking job, because you don't really get to do anything. You don't get to make progress with people. But when we elect Aimy to state legislature, she's going to get to make life better for North Carolinians almost immediately. Because the work that they're doing directly affects people's day to day lives. And I think the pandemic and the summer of protesting and the violence against black lives, especially, has illuminated how critically important these offices are not just for like the political purposes, not just for building a farm team, and not just for redistricting, but for policies that make us make it easier to get through the day.
Quinn: Absolutely. And I mean, again, it's always been true, but now more than ever, it is so important to have, again, like a mother of five, in... Just having no time for the bullshit, but also like so essentially focused on what is practical, and what will actually make people's lives better. Because of the perspective you have Aimy that just white guys who have been in power for 40 years do not.
Aimy Steele: Right. And I just want to comment on that. It's so important to have everyone at the table. But I think what's so interesting about this moment is everyone says, "Oh, well, if Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter if black people need to be at the decision making tables, so do white people if this and that. If this then that." My thing is no, we have blacks and LatinX people and people of color in general, have been systematically eliminated from the decision making table for so many centuries, not decades, not years, centuries.
Aimy Steele: And so now, what we're seeing is this outcry from the young people, we're seeing an outcry from racial groups, from just different groups of people saying, "No longer is this okay." And not only that, you have to realize that when people are traumatized year after year, day after day they finally blow. They can blow or have an outburst or something and maybe it's not the outburst you want to see maybe it's not the response you want to see. But essentially that's what they're doing. They are responding to systemically trauma over time, which completely can change your DNA, it can change your outcomes in life, it can change so many factors in your life.
Aimy Steele: And so why... It's so important to get me elected is because I'm coming with a head space of peace, but also a little bit of focused intentionality. And so that intentionality of creating laws and policies similar to what Virginia did, as you just referenced, is what I want to do in North Carolina. But I bring with me, the concern, the care, and just the overall perspectives of people of color, who have been disenfranchised, and discounted for what they bring to the table, and their conversation and the decisions that we can potentially help to make. So that's kind of where I stand with whose voices need to be at the table and why. And so this election is so important. And North Carolina is right on top of Virginia, like Virginia did it, we're next. And we're coming for it.
Quinn: No, I love it. And it matters so much. And I mean, there's so many... I mean, this is such a... There's so many wonderful things about the internet and so many terrible things about the internet. And you do you see folks who after all these incredible, the Black Lives Matter protests and marches, and commentators online saying things like, "Well, that's not the way to protest." Or this and this and it's like, buddy you don't get to choose. We're done. This is happening because of the choices that you have made for 400 years. This is inevitable. And this is the way it was going to go because you designed a system that, at best is maximally unfair, and is otherwise just horrific. And it's time to redesign the entire thing.
Aimy Steele: Right. And may I say one more thing about that?
Quinn: You can say whatever you would like.
Aimy Steele: So I co founded an organization with two other women called the Black political caucus of Cabarrus County. And so essentially, the goal was to amplify the voices of black and brown people in this county and ensure we hold our elected officials accountable for furthering the mission, vision and tenets of the organization, but for black people and people of color in Cabarrus County. And so we started founding or organizing, etc, back in 2019. And we launched in 2020. Obviously, we had no idea about the pandemic, about George Floyd, about all of the other killings, Breonna Taylor, Amaud Arbery and so many others. We just wanted to be able to bring black people to the political table and say, "Okay, we will amplify your voices. What do we want as a culture, as a people?"
Aimy Steele: And so in doing that, fast forward, we've got the pandemic in March, we launched in January, everything was fine, pandemic in March. We're still meeting regularly. And then George Floyd on Memorial Day. And so in June, we organized a peaceful protest march. So in doing so, we worked collaboratively with the police departments, we got our permits, we got all of our permits for music for all of the things that we wanted to do. They suggested we start at the courthouse steps. We walked around the block came back, there was no property destruction. I mean, it was just a beautiful march, but we had a prayer vigil. And we had given out over 500 candles. And people were lighting their candles, everything was so peaceful. It was so amazing. We had music, we produce a wonderful video, with the drone of all of the people gathering and walking. It was the most peaceful thing you ever did see.
Aimy Steele: Fast forward to political hate mail season, my opponent and other people who want to use things against me, for instance, they have utilized, not the images from my participation in the protest march, at the peaceful protest march. They utilized images that we see in mainstream social media of fires, of destruction, of despair, and they are painting me as a vigilante. And I think it's a racist trope that is going to backfire. But this is how you know people take the voices of those who are disenfranchised and try to use them against them when running for office.
Aimy Steele: They also strategically found a picture that I posted on Facebook with my hair this as a black woman with my hair braided into cornrows, and then use that to show me in a mail piece looking angry, or like I want it to really hit somebody or hurt someone. Then the last piece they did showed me punching a white man and giving him a black eye and causing him to have a neck brace. Now I've never been in fight with a white man, ever.
Brian: Holy cow.
Aimy Steele: These are the kinds of things that people of color face when they're, one, running for office, or two trying to do something to advance their communities. So you tell me if after you received, no less than 15 mail pieces that are negative in a two and a half month time period, if that wouldn't shake you to not want to participate in the democratic process that we call our democracy, our right. This stuff running for office politics, it takes stamina, grit, determination, and resilience. Once I make it through this process, I will be a stronger woman. But this is why people of color don't show up. This is why young people don't show up, to do this work. It is very difficult. And you have to have the mindset that it's not personal.
Aimy Steele: But you can't help but take it that way. Especially when you go home and you're with your family, you're having dinner, and you're discussing how was your day? How was your day? How was your day? In our house, that's like 50 times you have to ask that question because there's so many of us. But after you get through everyone, those moments where you reflect on the mail you opened, and that's the mail you saw, and the image that's portrayed about you, and how negative it is and how it completely inaccurate it is, those moments hurt.
Aimy Steele: And then we want to... Amanda's organization does such a fine job of preparing all candidates, but particularly candidates of color, and women and young people to run and run well, and run great campaigns that are highly organized, that focus on field, focus on financing, focus on all of the aspects we need to focus on. But emotionally, mentally, psychologically, those things are not... You can't train for that. You cannot train for that. So that's just something to consider.
Brian: Yeah, and as if that's not enough on top of all that, in your county, Cabarrus County is how it's pronounced.
Quinn: Thank you, Brian.
Brian: It's no problem. Hasn't hasn't been immune from this moment you've got you've faced COVID, like everyone else, still facing 4,000 cases, I think 69 deaths. And you're running a campaign with five kids at home. And like, that's one thing, but you're running a campaign with five kids literally at home, because there's a pandemic, and they have to be at home. That's a whole another thing. One of our favorite writers, Ed Yong at the Atlantic, he had a great quote recently about how COVID has exposed and taken advantage of all of the existing cracks in the sidewalk that is America.
Brian: And Quinn's written a bit about how this has been like a pop quiz, sort of a snapshot of policies at a moment in time. And of the choices that we've made. COVID exposed everything that's broken, basically, everything that was designed to suppress and make black and brown and indigenous people sicker and poorer and less able to succeed in this country. You ran two years ago, so that was pre COVID. And you were even running this time before COVID. So many states and districts like yours were abandoned by the federal government. And I guess how has this moment made you more focused and more driven to make an impact in your district, and on the actual lives of your constituents?
Aimy Steele: Well, it's made me more focused, in the ways of just ensuring we meet people's needs. As Amanda mentioned, there was a candidate down in Florida who was doing her best to... His or her best to help people with the unemployment system. What we're finding now is that people are talking to us on the phones about things that we've never heard before. They used to talk about "What are you going to do about public education and paying our teachers more than paying our support staff, the custodians, the bus workers, those kind of people, paying them more?" And "What are you going to do about health care, I want to make sure I have health care and that I don't get cut for pre existing conditions?" That kind of thing.
Aimy Steele: Now, people are saying can you help me find my unemployment? Or I didn't get my stimulus check? Do you know why? And we're calling to ask them to vote for me. But we're also calling to do wellness checks, because we have to. Like it's completely shifted how we campaign. And instead of showing up at their door, knocking on their door, we're leaving literature on their door. We're mailing them and calling them and texting them like crazy. But we're having to do different things just to reach the constituents. But when we call them, they're asking us to help them with diapers. They're asking us to help them with unemployment. We're talking middle income and low income but middle income people who work, who used to work at a bank or another seemingly well paying job, but now they find themselves on the other side of the economy. Not on the side that they've become accustomed to.
Aimy Steele: We have a ton of parents asking for any help around public education. They're home with their kids, they're trying to work a full time job, keep food on the table, they have a great job, but they cannot teach their kids or have access to tutors or things that will help their kids grow while they're at home learning. Then we have this whole broadband issue. COVID illuminated the fact that internet is a commodity of privilege. If you have privilege, okay, black, white, LatinX any color doesn't matter. If you have privilege, economically, you can afford the best internet service. If you don't, you're going to be possibly using a hotspot from your phone, which is very difficult to operate when you're trying to take calls from the phone and do it as a hotspot or use it as a hotspot. You're also going to be going to the school pulling up in the driveway, using the internet off the school.
Aimy Steele: In Cabarrus County, we have parking lots with buses. And so the hotspots are on the buses, and you can go pull up to the parking lot or it may reach to your area if it's a densely populated area. But we're having much different conversations this year. So we have to be super, hyper focused on meeting people's needs. Every day, it's about meeting people's needs.
Aimy Steele: I have groups from Yale University, Duke University, UNC Chapel Hill, states like Maryland, Virginia, California, New York, making phone calls for my campaign. When they make phone calls, we have this one question in the script that says, "What can the campaign do for you? What do you need?" And everyone without question, who's making calls when we do the training, and I do the "Rah, rah, sis, boom, bah," pep talk at the beginning. They always say, "What do you mean by this question?" And I say "We mean exactly what it says. What do you need from us? Do you need money? Do you need food? Do you need guidance? Do you need help with the unemployment system?" Because it is archaic at best. Do you need help with gas? Do you need a gas card?
Aimy Steele: What do you need. And often I'll take the money from my own personal budget with my husband's blessing, or we'll recruit and raise the money somewhere else. But we find a way to give them what they need. That's our hyper focused effort right now. I'd love for people to vote for me because I'm trying to win, obviously. But I need to know... I need them to know that their humanity matters to me and my campaign more than their vote, their vote will come. But their humanity is first. And that's what people of color have been saying for so many years. Don't just come and talk to me. Or as I like to say, "Don't holler at me when it's time to vote, and then ignore me 364 days out of the rest of the year." Don't just come when it's time for an election, come when it doesn't matter, or when there are other things at stake, like my life. And so that's what we're hyper focused on right now. And that's the difference between 2018 and 2020.
Quinn: Well, that is so beautiful, and impactful. And so personal. And really, I feel like in a nutshell describes so much about why state representatives matter so much more in your day to day life, voters, than federal representatives do those. These are people who know, Aimy, now you and if you are elected, I mean you know if fill in the blank voter, what their family situation is, and what the water cut offs are like in their neighborhood. And that is something that none of these senators, federal senators and state or US House of Representatives... They can try as much as they can, but they just first of all, they don't. And second of all, they can't.
Quinn: And it means so much to have people like that, who get it and who can help make changes. Hey, Aimy, I want to hold on to you for one second. Amanda, I know you have to run in about 33 seconds. Can you give us... I want to just get your action steps here and tell us how people can contribute to Run for Something and why contributing to Run for Something matters here. Overall, of course, but in this last month. When people are contributing, where does the money go for a Run for Something, what's it going to do?
Amanda Litman: So right now around for something is focusing on making sure that our candidates like Aimy have everything they need. Whether that's support, figuring out how to do vote by mail, or vote by mail chase, or preparing for what might be a long counting of the ballots. We are all in on making sure our candidates can get what they need, in a time where nobody's ever campaign like this before. The way that Aimy's described her campaign club how every single one of our folks is doing this. So every dollar that you give right now helps close a pretty big budget gap we have between now and the end of the year.
Amanda Litman: It also helps us stay open into 2021, which I know is like not a fun cool thing to say, when we're only a month out from election day, but we have to be in this for the long haul. So right now what you're able to do is ensure that's possible. So if you're interested in supporting Run for Something, go to RunforSomething.net/donate. If you want to help our candidates, which I cannot recommend highly enough, they're the best directory.RunforSomething.net is where to go. And I would be remiss and I get yelled at if I didn't also recommend that you listen to our new podcast, which comes out every Tuesday, runforsomethign.net/podcast. It's interviews with our candidates and our alumni. And you get to hear more amazing stories like Aimy's and it's been really fun to get to do. So if you listen to this, you might like that, too.
Quinn: I love it. And you have been having these incredible Zoom video conversations with people like Cory Booker and local candidates and they are so inspiring to watch and be a part of from a distance. And so, again, the work you're doing, Amanda, is really second to none for, like you said, for the long haul. It is vitally... November 3 is so important. But the long haul really is really what matters. So thank you.
Quinn: So anyways, Amanda, I know you got to get out of here. Go ahead and run. Aimy, if you don't mind sticking around for a couple more minutes, and then we'll let you go.
Aimy Steele: Absolutely, bye Amanda.
Amanda Litman: Bye, you guys have got a real winner with Aimy.
Brian: [crosstalk 00:41:09].
Aimy Steele: Thank you.
Amanda Litman: Bye.
Quinn: Thanks, Amanda. Aimy, again, thank you so much for that description of, I guess how this moment, again, from George Floyd to COVID. And all of the things that have happened in between, has, I guess, narrowed, but also expounded on how you're running your campaign, and why it's important, and why it's just so much more direct a position like yours, than these more glamorous federal offices. But I feel like now more than ever, again, with people trapped in their homes, at their homes, in their yards, in their bubbles, whatever it might be, I hope they are appreciating the role and the importance of folks like you and your offices in what that can be in their everyday life. If they've never paid attention. If you don't know who's on your school board, guess what, now those people are having to figure out COVID testing to get your kids back in school. People on your school board matter, and the people in the state houses matter because they are influencing your everyday life.
Quinn: And it's so inspiring to me to have someone like you again, who knows how to get shit done because of how much you've done for yourself professionally. But also, because what you have been through personally, and as a black person and as a black woman, both in your lifetime, but also as an army brat, and also just living in North Carolina. And again, on the heels of 400 years of us trying to make sure that people like you can't do anything. So that perspective is just so necessary. And I feel like it makes such a difference going forward.
Aimy Steele: Thank you. And yes, you're absolutely right, I just want to be able to bring all of those perspectives to the table. And as a little girl growing up, I really did not understand why I had to go through all the things I went through, and why there were so much change. At one point, I went to five schools in six years. Like I didn't process that what I experienced, would essentially become part of my platform. I never understood that, I really also didn't understand why I was an assistant principal at a high school one year. And then I got a call to interview for a position as a principal the next year, even though I didn't think I was ready. But I said "I'll practice, I'll just practice."
Aimy Steele: And lo and behold, I received the job. And it was one of the most challenging years of my educational career as the principal of a title one school with high needs, but I understand now why I was in that school. And then I requested to move to a different school that would allow me a little bit more flexibility. And that was an elementary school, which I had no experience with. So you put all those things together. And now I am the person that I'm here today saying "Oh, I want to run for office and throw in yet another wrench in this fabric of life."
Aimy Steele: And all of those things together make me the kind of person that is going to bring a variety of perspectives to the General Assembly. And so much so that I think people now are starting to process and understand that it is their school board, their county commissioners, their city councils and the state general assemblies that are going to matter in their lives. Not necessarily the president or the vice president or just the federal level. And people are wising up to that especially after seeing how the pandemic has been handled and how the governor's responded to the Federal Government in general, as they were trying to figure out funding and resource allocation and things like that. So I think people are wising up. I think they're understanding and I think they're responding. So we'll see November 3.
Brian: Coming up.
Quinn: November 3. And again, the examples are out there. I mean, again, it's the easy one, and I'm biased, but because it's where I'm from, and because I'm proud of it. But Virginia 400,000, people got health insurance through Medicaid virtually overnight, because of that election. 400,000 people who probably, because it's Medicaid, and because our health care system is so broken, and so racist and oppressive, probably have never had health insurance before. And much less like, found about any conditions they've had, or had them treated, they've probably if they do go to the doctor, it's the emergency room, and then the health care's a nightmare. 400,000 people, and that's just in one state.
Quinn: And you just go "Wait, there's so many other places that were in the similar position, where that can happen." And like you said, North Carolina isn't just next door, it is so similar in that respect, and in the respect of what the other side has been trying to take away from people for so long. And you can make people better. And by the way, again, like this is all a flat circle, those 400,000 people that have had Medicaid for a couple years, are in a vastly different position now, because a lot of those folks have these pre existing conditions that make mortality from COVID worse.
Quinn: And we've seen that over and over again. But those people can go to the doctor in Virginia. And it's just... Yeah, I don't know. It just means so much. And by the way, again, and we'll get to your action step here and how people can contribute. Folks, we've harped on it over and over. When you contribute to state level campaigns, your money goes so much farther than it does to donating to Joe and Kamala. It's an entirely different ballgame. So if you want to feel like you have an impact, supporting folks like Aimy in states like this, where the whole world can change overnight, is just so massively impactful and efficient.
Aimy Steele: Well, thank you. And yes, you're absolutely right. I do want to give a little bit of history about Virginia, just a teeny, tiny bit.
Aimy Steele: So what's so important about Virginia that is actually being done in North Carolina is this intentional focus on finding voters where they are. So in 2018, we did a lot of door knocking in North Carolina. And of course, in 2020, we're just completely paralyzed by not knocking doors. And that really is changing how we campaign. So we've had to do a lot of intentional focus on digital fundraising. So there's a PAC, which I love PACs. So like Run for Something is an organization that supports candidates who are running for office and recruits candidates, younger candidates, to also run and builds the pipeline.
Aimy Steele: PACs, like Our States Matter is another important type of PAC. But they did so much intentional focus in Virginia, on digital advertising, that digital advertising and the case studies you'll see from Virginia, that's why people turned out to vote. It has significant implications, positive outcomes and positive implications for candidates who were running. And so much so that those seats were flipped when they had no real chance of being flipped, had they not done this intentional targeting of focusing on digital outreach and digital media.
Aimy Steele: And that's what we're finding is actually a benefit of COVID is if there is some kind of benefit, we're able to find people where they are, on their devices, because the device usage is up 70% since April of 2020. And so we're seeing a lot more engagement on social media, on certain social platforms. One of my voters or constituents told me he found my digital ad in the London Times as he was reading it because he takes the London Times on his device. I thought, "Well, that's another question. But we'll talk about it later."
Aimy Steele: What? The London Times, that's exceptional. But that's what was done in Virginia. And so that targeted focus has now moved to North Carolina, and we're super excited about that, because it's helping us to reach our voters. We've had hundreds of thousands, and I'm not exaggerating, hundreds of thousands of full views of a mixture of three videos that we're circulating. And they're all they're either 30 seconds or one minute. That is what people are hearing about our message and it'll help them make their decision in the fall.
Quinn: That's amazing. I mean, hundreds of thousands again, like in a state district like that. That's amazing. And that's not just again, obviously as we will allude to in a second and our folks know, because our entire mission sort of predicated on action, which is like, you don't have to be from Aimy's district to contribute to her campaign, or to make phone calls or whatever it is. And that's what's so wonderful about this. And so important when again, like you said, this, the difference between door knocking, which is awesome. And these proven digital efforts, like has happened in Virginia or like the Obama team sort of cultivated in 2008 and 2012, which helped so much for them. This is the next version of that.
Quinn: And it means that, like you said, your ad shows up in the London Times. Great, but wherever it reaches your future constituents, then that's awesome, whatever moves the needle, and I'm so glad that, especially now, again, when you're... I can't imagine how different this campaign is for you practically, than your first one, I mean, it's an entirely different world. So thank God, these tools are available to you to be able to do that.
Aimy Steele: Yeah, our campaign the last time we knocked, called and texted 60,000 times. Like 18,713, I think we're door knocks. Okay, this time, we... And I'm thankful to my opponent in the primary, because he's the one that prompted me to have to do this. Because I had a primary and I didn't expect to primary, I had to spend money for that. And then it prompted me to get out and knock doors. And so we had about 25 volunteers knocking doors, whereas in 2018, we had about 130, who were knocking doors, helping us get text and call. And so in 2020, we knocked doors right before the March 3 primary, and we got about 3,400 doors in thankfully, before everything shut down.
Aimy Steele: Then I had the primary, we took a couple weeks off, and then we were gearing up to start knocking again, first of April. And then of course COVID hid, so we had to back up and punt. And then we started making calls. So we were making about 700 to 800 calls a week, now we're up to about 1,500 to 2,000 calls a week. And that's what it's going to take. I mean, we're introducing ourselves to people whom we've never met before, because my district was redrawn.
Aimy Steele: And if you don't know about the gerrymandering, the terrible gerrymandering of North Carolina, these people... Listen to me, these people drew these districts to where one person from a street was in one district. And all the other neighbors were in another district. And I'm talking in the middle of the street. So if there's a street and homes on both sides, the line of the district would go in, grab one house, one address and come out. Every other neighbor on the street was in a separate district. That is what the judge called "Drawn with surgical precision," as if he was doing an appendectomy. I mean, really, that's how bad it was.
Aimy Steele: And so my district was redrawn. It wasn't that way in my district. That was another example from another district. But that's how bad it was. So we've had to do a lot of reintroducing me to new voters. And we've done that through phone calls, through digital, through mail, etc. But it takes a lot of money to run these races. And can I say the salary for a state house member is $15,000. So it's nothing to write home to Aunt Sally about, okay. We're fighting for the right to make laws like Virginia, pass Medicaid expansion, expand funding for health care and funding for education, and give people their dignity back, pass the ERA, things like that. We're trying to help people. For $15,000.
Quinn: It's $15,000 a year up against these systems, again, for 400 years that have been so comprehensively designed against literally you specifically. And so for someone like you to run twice, with all that you're done, with all that you do every day and every year and then and then have the chance of actually winning has shown how far we've come, how far we still have to go. But what an enormous David versus Goliath type battle it is.
Quinn: I mean, again, if we... And I know you got to run here soon. But the redistricting again, it's a census year. That is so complicated. If you folks are sitting here going, "This is all really cool. And Aimy sounds amazing. What is this do for climate change?" Well, guess who draws the maps after the census. The census is a federal thing, but the Constitution says states regulate federal elections. And the power to redraw those maps, at least right now, goes to the party in power in that particular state. And then the results of those maps show how likely district is to lean toward someone progressive like me this time.
Quinn: Or like you said, there's one person on a street. And that's part of a district. And if Aimy wins, she can help redraw the maps in North Carolina or set up independent people to draw, or computers. And then we start putting the people in office that are going to enact radical, equitable legislation to make it a little less hot around here. To make sure we don't suffer so badly when something like COVID happens again, because it will. But this redistricting is so vital. And it takes me back to, and I'm sure North Carolina has the same issues that Virginia does with the prison based gerrymandering that is so just crazy throughout this country, and Michelle Alexander talked about in The New Jim Crow. I mean, it's crazy. And we have to have people like you in office to redraw these things, especially in a census year. So that this can be more fair going forward.
Aimy Steele: Absolutely. And I do want to say something real quick about criminal justice, I'm going to try to make this like extremely quick, but I'm not pressed for time but I just want to say [crosstalk 00:55:59]-
Quinn: Please. We're not either, no [crosstalk 00:56:01]...
Aimy Steele: Okay, good.
Quinn: No, no, no.
Brian: We'll listen to you talk for however long you want. This is incredible.
Aimy Steele: Awesome. So when I went to college, I was a freshman at UNC Chapel Hill. And I was determined to take my car to campus. So I found a way to figure it out. And I'm a problem solver by nature, just so you know. So I solve problems. And I was able to bring my car to campus. And so one day I rode the bus to the Friday Center to pick up my car from the permitted lot. And I was driving it back. And we had an English assignment that was kind of looming over my head to write a long paper about a topic. I don't remember the nature of the topic, but we had a lot of choice around the topic.
Aimy Steele: So as I was driving back to campus getting ready to park, I witnessed several men on the side of the road with another man who had a gun, a couple men who had guns, shotgun, and I thought what is going on over there. Now, I'm an 18 year old student at Carolina freshman year, it was the fall, like September, and I was not accustomed to what I saw. So I really just was curious. And I pulled over on the side of the road, and I went up to one of the men who had a gun, and I didn't notice inmate on the back of the men's clothing who were working. And I said, "What is this? What's going on?" And the guy said, "Ma'am why are you here?" I said, "I'm very curious." I said, "What's happening?" And he said, "This is a work chain gang?" I said, "A what?" And he said, "This is the working chain game from such and such Correctional Institution." And I said, "Wait, so these guys are working. And they're all in prison?" He's like, "Yeah." And I said, "Oh, my gosh," I said, "Can I talk to them?" And he said "Yeah, I guess. I have to go with you everywhere you go." And I said, "Okay."
Aimy Steele: Because I'd already pulled over parked in a safe place. It was a very busy road in Chapel Hill. And in talking to the first gentleman, I said "Can you tell me your story?" Because I didn't really know what question to ask. But I saw somewhere on NCIS, or CSI Miami are one of those shows you never ask anyone what they did, or what people say they did, if they're incarcerated. So I said, "Can you tell me your story?" He told me his story. And essentially, what it boiled down to was whatever he did, he did. He came out. And then he went back in and I was witnessing him while he was back in.
Aimy Steele: And I said, "Well, why are you back in?" He said, "You have no idea how hard it is to find a job, to find clothing, shelter, food, when you get out of prison." And I said, "Well, is this just your story? How many other people suffer from this?" And he said, "A lot of people return to prison after they go the first time." And I said, "Well, how many." And he said, "So and so come over here." So, so and so came over, so and so started telling me his story, similar story. Was out, or went in, came out and returned back to prison. Another so and so came over and before you knew it, I had a crowd of about six. And they all were telling me the exact same thing.
Aimy Steele: So I started taking notes. I went back to my car, I got my notebook, I said, I would never mention their names. And I started taking notes about what they were telling me. And it was shocking what happens when they come out. And they don't have systematic assistance and help with getting re-acclimated to society. So our criminal justice system is broken. We know that black and brown people are policed way more statistically than any other group. And we know that Black and Brown students are disciplined more in schools, that is a fact, I've witnessed it. I've been a part of it in some cases, because of the way society has forced us to discipline people, but particularly people of color.
Aimy Steele: And so I went back to my dorm room and I cried. I could not believe that this was the case. I started doing research and then I learned the word for it. The rate of returns of prisoners to prison is called recidivism. So I was determined to keep that piece of knowledge in my head until I could do something about it. And so part of my legislative priorities are increasing funding for public schools, expanding Medicaid, making broadband a utility, and reducing recidivism for incarcerated individuals. Because we have to make sure we put them in a space to maintain and regain their dignity when they return to society. But then, so they can feel like they've paid their debt to society. So now let's vote, let's work, let's learn, let's do all the things that other people are doing.
Quinn: Unless you're in Florida, where then the house decides to then take that away, immediately after the new law's passed. Because they don't want these folks to vote, which is just ridiculous. They want them in jail. And again, you go back to prison based gerrymandering, they want them in jail for certain reasons. They want them in jail, because they're super racist. They want them in jail, because they know they can get away with... I think the statistic in Virginia said before they passed the new marijuana law, something like black people are 20% of the population and marijuana arrests were something like 45% or 55% of the population. And they want them in jail because... And this, I mean, when I first learned about this, it blew my mind, but again, doesn't surprise me because it's this comprehensive system.
Quinn: The census counts imprisoned individuals, as a residents of the area or the district where they're incarcerated. And most new prisons are built in predominantly white, rural areas, which we already know are vastly over represented in Congress. So they get these inflated population totals. Meanwhile, because we're over indexing on arresting black people and brown people, those people aren't counted in the districts they're from, and so they get fewer representatives.
Quinn: And then again, this thing just keeps happening and keeps happening. And it is horrific. And it is totally a development of the three fifths clause, and nothing has changed and it has to, and like you said, we have to be able to give these people's lives back, we have to let them vote, we have to make it so that they can have jobs, and be able to start businesses. And it's not going to... So many... We won't be able to have these diverse voices in Congress into we can stop arresting those people and let them try to do these things. It is, I don't know, it's fucking terrible. So I'm excited to do whatever it takes to radically dissemble this system.
Aimy Steele: Absolutely. And I am as well,
Brian: Because it needs to be done.
Quinn: Anyways. Please excuse My tangent. Brian, take us into action steps. So we can get me out here to keep sending digital ads to the London Times.
Brian: Yeah, there's got to be more important things that she needs to be doing than talking to us.
Quinn: I was going to say knocking on doors, but I can't say that anymore. We don't do that, you get in trouble if you do it, which you should.
Brian: Yeah, Aimy we always want to focus on action here, action oriented questions, action steps, things we can do, like I said at the beginning, to get our listeners to just get out there and support you. So let's do that. I guess we already sort of mentioned it before Amanda left. So how can we help you? How can our listeners help you as far as with their dollar?
Aimy Steele: Okay.
Quinn: Clock's ticking. Let's do it.
Brian: That's right. It's go time. It's go time.
Aimy Steele: Great question. So we're about a month away from the election. And based on when this particular recording will go out people just need to understand that every dollar matters, every dollar will be used to get the message of hope and change out to the voters. So the best thing you can do is to consider making a donation. Now I'm bold. So I will tell you the lowest amount as well as the highest amount. So the lowest amount is $1. The system won't process for anything lower than that. But the highest amount, which I'm not going to prevent anyone from doing this, is $5,400. And so anywhere in that range $1 to $5,400, whatever works for your budget, and then double that.
Aimy Steele: Because it's going to take a mammoth have an effort to continue getting the messaging out. Being one of the most expensive races in North Carolina, I'm slated to have $1 million spent against me for a position that pays $15,000 a year. So the system was built for retired people to run, but particularly retired white males, to run and win and that's how the system has been set up for it to be a part time job making $15,000 but you can't... But it operates like a full time position.
Aimy Steele: So where you can make donations is on my website. And my website is AimySteele2020.com. And my name is spelled A-I-M-Y Because I always aim high. So aim high.
Quinn: It's so good, it's so good.
Aimy Steele: Aim Y, Steele, with an E on the end 2020.com. So Aimysteele2020.com. You can click on make a donation, you can also click to sign up to volunteer. And so some of your listeners may be saying, "Well, I can't volunteer, I live in this state or that state, I'm not in North Carolina." Well fret no more my friend, you can volunteer by helping us make some phone calls. And we do phone calls over the digital platforms, or you can make them from your cell phones. And so that effort is also on my website, it says volunteer here. And you can select which day time and Zoom orientation you want to attend. But we do phone banks every day at 4:00 pm, literally seven days a week and have been for months. So we're gearing up and really want to invite people to do their part. Don't just sit around and complain about what needs to change and make these grandiose dreams and ideas but not putting the action behind him. So like really show up this year.
Quinn: Yeah, retweets aren't going to get it done. I love that. That's great. Our audience is so impactful and action takers and I understand when people are like, "I don't know, phone calls, like nerve wracking, cold calling." It's the best, like you do it... It's like knocking on doors, the first couple are terrifying. And then after that, it's just like the greatest thing in the world. It becomes old hat very quickly. And to speak to someone is... I mean, if you're feeling anxious, if you're feeling angry, if you're feeling aggravated, if you're feeling despair about everything that is happening and what could happen with this election.
Quinn: And to be clear, like people are voting already in a lot of places. Virginia is already voting and a lot of other places are. People are sending in ballots this thing has started. It's not an election day anymore. Besides your vote. I mean, it is science, when you take action, when you do these things, when you make phone calls you not only are making an impact, you can make yourself feel better as well. And so if we can kill two birds with one stone and get Aimy into office at the same time, then just do it. 4:00, it sounds like a date. I think it sounds fantastic.
Aimy Steele: Well, thank you. And one of the things I say is if you don't want to make phone calls, donate so someone else can.
Quinn: That's awesome.
Brian: There's always something, always something. And yeah, the phone calls and the door knocking, it only sort of seems like you said it's like weird at first. And then once you start doing it, you don't want to stop doing it. It's incredible.
Quinn: It's pretty awesome. All right, Aimy, last couple questions, and then we're going to get you out of here. They're a little more philosophical, if you will. Aimy, when was the first time in your life when you realized you had the power of change or the power to do something meaningful?
Aimy Steele: Oh, man, that was when I was five years old when I helped this young girl who smelled bad in my kindergarten class. And so for two weeks, I brought her a new pair of underwear from my collection, of course, bar soap, and a towel, a rag, and I put it in a Ziploc bag every day. And the teacher noticed that we were going into the bathroom every day before recess. And we were taking a long time. And what we were doing was I was giving her the bag, letting her go in and change herself, wipe herself up and give herself like a sink bath, and then come back out. And then we will go out to recess.
Aimy Steele: So when the teacher discovered this, she told my big mama, and you may not know my story, but my parents had me when they were 14. So we were kind of raised-
Quinn: Oh my God.
Aimy Steele: Yeah, we were kind of together as siblings for a little while. And so my big momma, my grandma was in charge, she was the mom. And so my big momma got a call from the kindergarten teacher and she said "Ms. Maddie, I need you to tell Aimy or communicate to her at home that we've got her back. We will take care of the little girl, and we'll take care of her needs. And this has been going on for about two weeks now. And I'm just now putting two and two together. But you can tell her to stop and we'll take care of it. But I've already talked to Aimy."
Aimy Steele: So when I got home, my big mama talk to me and everything was fine. I stopped doing it. But in reflection, I realized that was my advocacy as a child. Like that's the only thing I knew to do to help solve the problem at the time. And if the teachers were taking care of the problem, then I wouldn't have had to step in. So I know that change can start as early as playground days in elementary school. And that's when I realized that I had the power to do something about a situation. And I never felt helpless by doing so. My grandmother worked as the help for local white families. And so we were taught to always help and always solve people's problems. And that's what I did.
Brian: Man, at five years old, that is unbelievable. That's incredible.
Quinn: That's really special. Thank you for sharing that, and I'm trying to teach my children who again are white, upper middle class kids in America, they're incredibly privileged, just like I am. And it's more important than ever, especially for them to help whenever help is required. And that is really, pretty exceptional. And again, my kids are about that age. And I imagined and hope that they would do something similar. So that is special and I can see why you are doing what you're doing today. Wow. Aimy, who is someone in your life that has positively impacted your work in the past six months?
Aimy Steele: Oh, that's my dad. So my parents... My dad is a military man. And he's the former Command Sergeant Major of Fort Hood. And I have to say this about my dad, he is quite inspirational. But he and my mom... I launched a business last year. And the business teaches veterans how to do certain technological things through a program, a technology program. And so I was launching it here in Charlotte, and my dad and my mom moved in with me from Texas for three and a half months so they could use their GI bill to take the course with the other veterans. And so they were in my first class. And they stayed with me recently for three and a half months.
Aimy Steele: And they saw me get up every day, they saw me do call time. They had their own habits every day, they joined the YMCA here for three and a half months, they just kind of fell into society here in Concord in North Carolina all the way from Texas. They traveled, my dad is a preacher, so he preaches on the road. And they traveled and did their thing. But they were in class with me every day. And we took the class together alongside the veterans who were in the cohort. And that was just the most special thing to me. Because they were living in my house with me and the children, and my husband. And my husband was so welcoming of them, like we bonded better, we had such a great time.
Aimy Steele: But I got to see firsthand my dad's dedication to his craft and the things that he was doing. And my mom as well, but my dad, particularly, because of that military service. And so I witnessed it as a kid growing up like that. Because he joined the military, when he was 18, moved away with my mom, and my grandmother's still kept me and then they came to get me and then we move to Japan when I was eight. But I witnessed growing up with them as kids. But then after high school, I went off to college, and I got married and never returned. So seeing them in this phase of life was just so inspirational. And my dad is just so calculated, so pointed, so military, so focused, so disciplined, and me seeing that while trying to raise money during tumultuous times, at best. It was just very inspirational. So he is completely my person to impact my life.
Quinn: That is awesome. That is pretty special. Yeah, there's something about getting to know all aspects of your family, but especially your parents and imagine in a really interesting way for you because the age gap between you and your parents is relatively so small. But getting to know people, different stages of life, and especially with your parents, realizing that they're people, they're not just your mom and dad. And it's complicated and seeing the experience they've gathered and appreciating their wisdom for what it is, it's fascinating.
Brian: Truly, so awesome to hear. Aimy, it's wild out there to say the least and you're crazy busy. What is your self care?
Quinn: How are you taking care of yourself these days?
Aimy Steele: Man, oh man. I love self care. I love it. Okay, so here's the rundown in the Steel household. I pray every day in the morning before the kids wake up. I read my Bible, and that centers me. I'm doing a study on Joseph right now and the children of Israel and all of the massive just things they had to overcome. So that's one thing that kind of centers me and I listened to spa and meditation music. So that's all the morning routine. And then I go have a crazy, crazy day. I am just now starting to do this, but I did this all through the election cycle last year and earlier this year, but I went to the spa. And I make no apologies for going to the spa and I get a massage, and go to the sauna and you know the hot steam room, the pool, whatever. But I do the whole spa thing. And so sometimes I'll go with girlfriends, of course during COVID, I didn't go at all but I just recently went, they just opened back up.
Aimy Steele: And going to the spa is It's a form of medical care to me, it's a form of self care. And it's health care. Because when you get a massage, and they're literally massaging out toxins out of your muscles and re-shifting your muscles and putting pressure on them, and putting rocks on them and hot stones, it is just the best experience ever. So I go to the spa. And that's a form of self care. And I go regularly. So I save and I go to the spa. I am now doing walks and runs, we take our family to the beach... Not the beach, the mountains and do day trips, just to go up to Asheville, to the mountains of North Carolina. So in North Carolina, we're very fortunate we have the mountains and the beach, all in the same state.
Brian: Pretty great.
Quinn: Pretty amazing. Asheville's amazing.
Aimy Steele: Yeah, Asheville is awesome. Consequently, they just voted to recognize reparations, in different forms. And so they're very progressive, but I love going to Asheville and I love just walking in the Blue Ridge trails and going into the mountains and just hiking and taking part of nature, but there are no mosquitoes. So I think that's very important. Like there are no mosquitoes, when you go hiking. And that is essential when you're in North Carolina and you're trying to avoid mosquitoes.
Brian: How is that possible.
Aimy Steele: I don't know. I don't know.
Brian: That's incredibly.
Aimy Steele: There are no mosquitoes when you go hiking.
Brian: Wonderful to hear.
Aimy Steele: That's a part of my self care package.
Brian: Wow, those all sounds pretty fantastic.
Quinn: Yeah, and that's another thing. I mean, there's I think Japan was the first place to release the research on how just being in nature is so good for your brain. And your anxiety and your stress, it's a game changer. Throw a little spa in there, good to go. Good to go.
Brian: It's true, self care is so, so important. So good for you and your spa. No apologies necessary.
Quinn: A lot of Brian's day si self care.
Brian: Yeah. Aimy, what is one book that you have read, maybe this year, pretty recently that has opened your mind to a topic that maybe you haven't considered before, or that's changed your thinking in some way?
Aimy Steele: Well, so two books I've read so far this year that have completely changed my mind. I read a lot of finance books and nonfiction books about finance, because I used to struggle in that area. And so reading books helps me to become better at those things. And so I read a lot of those, and I've read several of them this year. But the two this year that stick out are Indecent Assembly by Gene Nichols. And this book is about... Or Gene Nichol, Nichol or Nichols. But Gene writes about the systematic dismantling of government and politics in North Carolina. But he quotes many of my friends, and people I know and political icons in North Carolina.
Aimy Steele: So it's like, "Oh, my gosh, there's my friend." I'll take picture, send it to my friend. Or this representative, or that representative, or this news article, or this vote in the House, or this vote in the Senate, like he is systematic, about capturing what's happened in North Carolina politics, and why 2020 is so important. So that book could not have come out at a better time. So that's number one.
Aimy Steele: The second one is Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. Now, that's a classic. But in reading it, it's kind of interesting I can certainly tell what time period they were in when they were writing it or when the gentleman was writing it. But being very specific about your goals, and then outlining how you're going to get there. That is just a sobering reminder, especially during COVID of how very important it is to still have goals and still go after them in a very specific way. So we always throw around like, "Oh, having a smart goal is a great idea." No, no, having a smart goal is the only essential way to get your goals done. So it's not just a great idea and a great philosophy, it is absolutely essential.
Aimy Steele: So I've been very intentional this year of creating goals that are specific to the campaign, and specific to my life, and quality of life and well being. So my new goals chart is a Word document. It's four pages, and it has pictures and a grid. And the picture aligns with the area of my life that I want to focus on. And then there are goals around that area. And then there are action steps and then dates by when those action steps are supposed to be done. So it kind of reads like a school improvement plan, which is what we were required to do as a principal. That book has been completely impactful because I've never read it before. As long as I've been around these types of books self help and whatever I've never read that book so reading it is life changing.
Quinn: You might be my favorite person.
Aimy Steele: Oh you're my fave too.
Quinn: No, no, no you don't have to say that.
Brian: Quinn is not your favorite.
Quinn: I'm just saying. The number of books I've tried to get Brian to read about organization and checklists and things like that. And they're just in a pile, and he refuses to and I keep sending them to him. And I'm like, "Brian, it's going to change your life." I show him my crazy calendar with my kids and my 12 jobs. He's not interested. And I'm like, "Brian I'm telling you, if you build yourself a system..." And to be clear, like my wife, who also as 12 jobs and is the most amazing mom and partner and friend and businesswoman and runs the whole ship. She operates in totally different way but and thinks my systems are insanity. And yet is somehow still more productive than me.
Quinn: Having something whatever the thing is, that works for you, when you ever you discover in life is just such a game changer. And it enables you to have, like you said, sort of these value driven, but practical goals that guide sort of all of the decisions you make. And it just unlocks your day and your week, and all of these things. And like you said in COVID, where we're just time is crazy. And we're all locked inside our living rooms it can make such a difference. Such a difference.
Aimy Steele: Absolutely. Let me say this, Brian, to your defense, Brian.
Brian: Oh, thank you so much. Thank you very much.
Quinn: I was really hoping you were going to yell at him. Anyway.
Aimy Steele: No I'm a teacher. So I'm going to teach. Brian it's okay that you are who you are. A person convinced against their will is of the same opinion still. So we have to find what works for Brian. So Brian, do you like to draw pictures of your goals? How do you artistically express your goal? And you're probably a creative. Is that right?
Brian: I guess you could call me that. And just to clear something up. I love reading. I read very often, I read lots of stuff. I just happen to not read the books that Quinn sends me about making lists. Okay. That's all it is.
Quinn: Okay, okay, okay.
Aimy Steele: Yeah, right.
Brian: By the way, Think and Grow Rich sounds incredible. I cannot wait to order that and read that.
Aimy Steele: Yes. It's amazing. You will love it.
Brian: I will.
Quinn: This has been just delightful. I can't thank you enough for your time, and all that you've done and all that you're doing. And I cannot wait to see you inaugurated. Aimy where can our listeners follow you on the internet?
Aimy Steele: Okay, so you can go to Aimysteele2020.com. You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram at Aimy Steele, and then find everything else from there. But Aimy Steele, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
Brian: Oh very good.
Quinn: Very exciting. Awesome. Well, again, thank you so much for your time and for coming on with us. And again, apologies for the production difficulties to get started. Life, man, but we really appreciate it. We're cheering for you. We're behind you. We're so excited to try to unleash our audience a little bit behind you in this last month, which is crazy. And we wish you all of the very best.
Aimy Steele: Thank you guys. I appreciate the opportunity.
Brian: I just want to say the words you have spoken today you're just a leader, you're just so clearly a naturally somebody who needs to be in a position of, not in charge so much. But just to be able to inspire people. I mean, just talking to for an hour, I wish I lived in North Carolina. Thank you very much.
Aimy Steele: Thank you. I appreciate it. And you all have a fantastic day.
Quinn: Thanks to our incredible guest today. And thanks to all of you for tuning in. We hope this episode has made your commute or awesome workout or dish washing or fucking dog walking late at night that much more pleasant. As a reminder, please subscribe to our free email newsletter at ImportantNotImportant.com. It is all the news most vital to our survival as a species.
Brian: And you can follow us all over the internet. You can find us on Twitter @importantnotimp. Just so weird. Also on Facebook and Instagram at ImportantNotImportant, Pinterest and Tumblr the same thing. So check us out. Follow us, share us, like us, you know the deal. And please subscribe to our show wherever you listen to things like this. And if you're really fucking awesome, rate us on Apple podcasts. Keep the lights on, thanks.
Brian: And you can find the show notes from today right in your little podcast player and at our website ImportantNotImportant.com.
Quinn: Thanks to the very awesome Tim Blane for our jamming music to all of you for listening. And finally, most importantly, to our moms for making us. Have a great day.
Brian: Thanks, guys.