Lesli Gray: From Capitol Hill to city council
Lesli Gray is currently running her first campaign for a seat on the city council in Addison, TX, a 4.3 square-mile suburb outside of Dallas. However, this isn’t her first run-in with the political arena. She began her career working in and around the Capitol, spending time on Capitol Hill, working for a House Committee, a federal agency and NGOs. To summarize her work experience: Gray has spent most of her life in public service. Now, she hopes to utilize her experience while serving the community she calls home.
She was born in Utah, and relocated to Washington, D.C., with her family when her father took a position working for the Department of Agriculture. Gray recounted that, as an adolescent, her family would watch the show “60 Minutes” and the “McLaughlin Group” together. Gray said she vividly remembers coverage of major events including President Nixon’s formal resignation and live coverage of the Vietnam War. To Gray, living in D.C. meant that her local news was national news. These images stuck with her into adulthood, though, she didn’t fully grasp the importance of the policy behind the actions until college.
Gray finished her undergraduate education at George Mason University where she received a degree in business. Not long after graduating, she began working in the legislative affairs office of the National Association of Counties (NACo). While at NACo she started her Master’s Degree at George Washington University. Within these capacities, Gray was constantly working in and around Capitol Hill, meeting with professors and speakers on a regular basis. She had heard from a friend about a job opening for a House Committee staff position on Capitol Hill. Gray immediately applied for the position, and was hired. It was during this time that Gray developed her strong passion for politics and policy.
Gray moved from Virginia to Texas in 2010 with her husband, a retired Battalion Chief for Arlington County Fire Department (VA), and her children. Her family moved from McKinney to Addison three years ago. Upon moving to Addison, she quickly fell in love with the city, saying, “I was fortunate enough to meet people who were very involved in the community not long after moving to Addison.” She has been actively involved in a neighborhood organization that brings together residents and local businesses. She also co-hosted a Civics 101 series with a fellow community member to encourage Addison citizens to get involved in the community. Additionally, Gray is part of Leadership Metrocrest, a program that brings leaders from surrounding Dallas-area communities including Addison, Carrollton, and Farmer’s Branch together to better understand their communities and important issues at the local government level.
If elected to Addison City Council, Gray would represent a community that serves almost 16,000 residents but over 100,000 visitors during the day. Addison is a community that offers many amenities to both residents and businesses. There are over 180 restaurants and a general aviation airport, one of the busiest of its kind, all within the 4.3 square miles that are Addison. Gray has centered her campaign for office on a platform that combines the importance of both the residential and business portion of Addison. Gray feels that, as a candidate for city council, she is focused on ensuring Addison leverages its incredible assets, like the airport and the arrival of the DART Cotton Belt station, as well as strategically moving forward with redevelopment projects. She has hopes that Addison remains a safe and attractive community for residents and businesses yet still competitive with other communities in the Dallas area.
Gray recognizes the challenges facing women who run for office. She mentions that politics itself has generally been dominated by men, making a campaign for office a challenge of its own. Gray is excited to see what the new wave of female candidates brings to the table, saying “it is important to have multiple voices involved in policy, deciding how the government will work.” The more people are involved in their communities, the more government is representative and inclusive of a variety of voices. She advises women who are interested in running for office that “they should do it.” Gray feels that public service is important for the health of a community; “it may be difficult to run for office”, she says, “but giving back to the community is important.” Women need to engage and step forward to be a part of the discussion.
Lesli Gray is currently running for Addison City Council, with the general election taking place in May 2018.