Kathie Tovo: Passion in Politics
Kathie Tovo, current Mayor Pro Tem representing City Council District 9 in Austin, Texas, did not grow up envisioning herself working in politics. Kathie did not have politically involved parents, so it wasn’t until attending college that she began to figure out her political views. Those views turned out to be different than her family’s. Nevertheless, she felt free to engage in political activities on campus, such as rallies. After college, she guided her career toward teaching writing and interdisciplinary studies at the college level and working at Humanities Texas. In her spare time, she began getting involved in neighborhood affairs and became vice president and president of different neighborhood associations. Her passion for the issues she was dealing with began to grow, and even though Kathie had not explicitly decided to begin a career in politics, she decided to let her new-found passion guide her towards a path that would enable her to keep working on them. This is what led her to run for City Council member and thus begin her career in politics.
There are many obstacles people envision when thinking about running for a political position. One such obstacle is the feeling of being an outsider, so far removed from that “world” one doesn’t even know where to begin. To overcome this, Kathie has relied on others who are more familiar with this line of work for support and guidance. While not everyone has personal relationships with people in or familiar with the political sphere, active community members are also excellent to turn to for advice and assistance.
As a female politician, Kathie has encountered situations she believes women need to be more assertive than men in order to assure their voices are heard. Kathie shares that having a group of supportive people around, given how emotionally challenging a political career can be, is crucial for anyone, woman or man, running for office. It is also important to have a sense of humor, strong sense of self, and knowledge of why you are doing what you are doing.
In a very sweet and candid answer to what she considers her greatest accomplishment in her career, Kathie answered, “being a mom”. She does admit that learning to balance politics with parenting has been challenging. Establishing and maintaining this balance in any job is challenging enough, but working in politics makes it especially difficult with the particularly full schedules. Although Kathie has to take her daughters to council meetings sometimes, she is thankful for being able to share her time and interesting experiences with her daughters.
Learning how to balance personal life and politics is an ongoing challenge, and nobody can teach you how to master the art. After speaking with Kathie, it is clear that you just have to go for it and do the best you can. If you are following your passion, and are interested and devoted to what you are doing, then incorporating aspects of your personal life into your career will be natural and all the more rewarding.