Abbie Kamin: "You don't need permission to run."
“People often say women need to be asked a certain number of times to run for office before they will go for it,” Abbie began. “I don’t buy into that. No woman needs to be asked to run for office. You do not need permission. Just run.” Abbie Kamin is a civil rights attorney and neighborhood advocate running for Houston City Council in District C. She has spent her life helping others by observing firsthand the problems affecting her community and working at the ground level to implement solutions. Her inclination toward altruism began in childhood. Abbie’s mother founded a charity helping at-risk youth around the world, and her father was a politically-engaged businessman. Starting with her childhood dinner table, Abbie’s ideals and values began to take shape at a very young age. “They never asked, ‘Well, what did you learn at school today?’ Conversation was always about what happened in the world today with an eye toward how to make the world better for people”.
When Abbie was 13, she participated in a school field trip to Washington, D.C. While her class was there, the Supreme Court hearings for Bush v. Gore were happening. Her class had followed the presidential campaigns, debates, and election between George W. Bush and Al Gore. Abbie convinced her teachers to let the class, instead of visiting the Smithsonian that day, visit the protests surrounding the Supreme Court. In this historic moment, Abbie was able to hear Jesse Jackson speak, calling for the Department of Justice to investigate irregularities in Florida’s presidential election. It was at that moment that Abbie understood the importance of elections and the right to vote.
Abbie expected to start her undergraduate degree at Tulane University as New Orleans was about to face Hurricane Katrina’s impending devastation. “It was move-in day at the dorms, but it was also evacuation day for the city of New Orleans,” she explained. “We were lucky to get out.” Abbie took students who were unable to leave back to Houston. Once home, Abbie and her mother worked at the Astrodome accepting the first buses of evacuees. “I witnessed firsthand government fail at every level. Elected officials failed the people of New Orleans,” Abbie remarked. “And this was the first time we could point to U.S. soil and say that climate change made this disaster worse. Climate change is here.” Upon her return to New Orleans, Abbie became involved in recovery efforts, as well as climate change and coastal restoration efforts to protect the Gulf from future storms.
“I’ve always known I wanted to be involved in legislative and policy affairs,” Abbie said of her career. Her time at Tulane led her to law school at American University in Washington, D.C. She returned home to Houston and was confronted with the realities of institutional racism and tightening voter ID laws. This drove Abbie into a career as a powerful advocate for civil rights. She has since made great strides for the issues she witnessed and experienced during her education. She organized a rally for climate change awareness that became the national kick-off event for the country. When Hurricane Harvey ravaged the Gulf Coast yet again, she was called upon to help at the City’s Command Center at George R. Brown. Notably, Abbie now serves as the Co-Chair of the Houston Steering Committee for Annie’s List, and supports efforts to elect progressive women to state and local offices.
Women leaders like Abbie are committed to changing the landscape of political representation in Texas. “We need to make sure there are more women running for office,” Abbie said. “We also need to make sure that there are women alongside our elected officials working in their offices and on their campaigns.” She continued. “Do we need female chiefs of staff? Yes! Do we need female campaign managers? Yes! … We need you. I’m passionate and committed to making sure women have a presence in every area.”
Abbie acknowledges that her career and her accomplishments have not been an easy feat. “It’s certainly not a nine to five… I don’t remember when I worked a nine to five job,” she remarked. “But it’s a privilege to be as involved as I’ve tried to be.” The support Abbie receives from her husband and family has helped her maintain balance in her life, especially now as she embarks on her first political campaign. Since the beginning of her campaign, Abbie has been deemed the “fundraising powerhouse,” earning nearly three times the support of the next closest candidate for District C. She offers simple advice to women who want to do the same: “You can do it! Believe in yourself. Just put your head down and work hard.”