“When you're too tired, do one more thing” - A favorite quote of Sallie Alcorn’s, the recently re-elected councilwoman for Houston City Council At-Large Position 5.
Alcorn attended graduate school in the early nineties, obtaining a Master's Degree in Public Administration and Public Policy. Her initial foray into the political field started with an internship at the City of Houston through the Housing and Community Development Department. There, she dedicated her efforts to city and housing planning. In this role, she was tasked with determining how the city should use grants received from the federal Housing and Urban Development Department, or HUD for short. Her primary focus involved crafting comprehensive plans aimed at augmenting Houston's inventory of affordable housing. She was committed to ensuring that Houstonians could afford to reside in Houston, in contrast to the growing trend seen in larger cities where residents are increasingly priced out.
Alcorn went on to take various roles for the City of Houston and citywide elected officials. She was encouraged to look at roles with the City after her friend Pam Holmes encouraged her to do so while she served on Houston City Council. Over the next fifteen years, Alcorn would serve as chief of staff for two different council members. She was passionate about aiding constituents—ranging from helping them figure out their water bills to repairing streets—and delving into policy intricacies. As a self-professed enthusiast for policy and budget matters, Alcorn relished improving ordinances and streamlining citywide operations for greater efficiency.
In 2019, Alcorn decided to run for Houston City Council. Alcorn was inspired by conversations with others who had encouraged her to run for office. When talking about her decision to run for office, Alcorn acknowledged that a pattern exists where women need constant prompting to consider political roles, unlike men who need not be asked. The prevalence of self-doubt among women saddened her, observing how this lack of confidence will often delay or derail their ambitions.
So, she decided to take the plunge and run. Encouragement from her three daughters and son propelled her forward, convincing her that there was no reason not to pursue this dream. Her husband shared her enthusiasm and exhibited an even greater eagerness for the campaign trail, actively campaigning alongside Alcorn. Alcorn’s husband jokes that if they're putting in this much effort, victory is inevitable.
When asked about imposter syndrome, Alcorn acknowledges that it is prevalent among so many aspiring female candidates. Reflecting on her own experiences, she encourages young women to leap into opportunity. The first step to leaping into opportunity is being prepared to reach out extensively to your community for financial support, especially given the exorbitant costs of campaigning.
Additionally, Alcorn emphasizes the time commitment required to run for office, stressing the need to immerse oneself in the community, find guidance from experienced individuals, and engage in constant conversations with constituents and mentors.
While campaigning for office, Alcorn takes on dual caretaking roles. She belongs to a sandwich generation, meaning a generation of people juggling caretaking of children and aging parents. When asked how she manages it all with energy, she recalls advice from her sister-in-law, a former congresswoman from Northern Virginia. Her advice is a valuable mantra: “when feeling depleted and overwhelmed, especially during the intensity of a campaign, push to do just one more thing.” She acknowledges that this advice might not directly combat exhaustion but emphasizes the importance of persistence and pushing beyond perceived limits to meet one more person, do one more task, or attend one more event.
Despite the fatigue that this approach might foster, she acknowledges the necessity of self-care. She adopts a routine of running, practicing yoga, and finding solace in moments of relaxation, often spending time on the couch watching Netflix.
Alcorn reminds us of the importance of social connections, prioritizing spending time with friends, and ensuring we create a balance between commitments and personal rejuvenation. For Sallie Alcorn, it truly is an honor to serve the residents of Houston.