How I Lead: John Bucy III
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of elected officials have stepped up, going above and beyond the call of duty, to provide resources and support for their constituents. In our new series, How I Lead, we are spotlighting Run for Something alumni who are creating innovative solutions and spreading hope in their local communities.
Meet Representative John Bucy III, a member of the Texas State House representing district 136. Seeing that the most vulnerable members of his community were in need, John launched a new initiative to help bring senior citizens and other at-risks constituents the support they need in the midst of the pandemic.
How has the COVID-19 outbreak affected your community? What was your response as an elected official?
The first thing we did was create a guide, that we update regularly with pertinent information and resources about Coronavirus from local, county, and state jurisdictions and agencies. The guide has grown to 17 pages of information that we now update biweekly or so. The other larger programmatic lift we’ve been working on is a Neighbor to Neighbor Food & Wellness Program. We are coordinating a volunteer effort involving our local bank and other area elected officials to deliver food to seniors over 60 as well as persons with a disability of any age. We started with a robocall and pushing this over email and social media followed by a press push to spread the word (with good response). We had hundreds of volunteers sign up in the first few days to help with making outreach calls, packing food, and making deliveries. Volunteers are making live calls starting with seniors who we believe, based on voter registration data, live alone, and expanding into the full list.
We are also setting up Hustle under their non profit program to send 10,000 free texts regarding this program or other such constituent matters. Recently, we had other volunteers sew or donate masks and gloves and sanitizer. Currently, some three weeks in, we are serving close to 100 households per week, with a weeks’ worth of food each, and looking at expanding into a third day of deliveries as the program grows. It’s been humbling and amazing to see the response to this program and the folks willing to step up and help.
As you’ve been confronting COVID-10 in your community, what is something new you’ve learned?
Probably a renewed faith in the audacity of the human spirit. We’ve been fortunate that in spite of partisan differences, at the local level, folks have worked together pretty well in spite of what’s going on from statewide leaders or the federal government. But really, what’s been inspiring and fulfilling is to see all of the everyday people in our community pitching in in any way they can, finding joy and humanity in the small victories, and being creative in finding ways to lift each others spirits.
What responsibility do state and local officials have to their community?
State and local officials have a responsibility to provide clear and up to date information, keep their communities safe, and work with other jurisdictions and agencies to maximize the resources available to those in need. We have to work together to get each other through this pandemic. We’ve also seen this pandemic further expose a lot of the holes in our social safety nets and other societal systems. Moving forward, we need to be thoughtful and deliberate in addressing these issues from a policy perspective in a robust way.
Now as an elected official, what would you say to someone who is thinking about running for office?
Run. Absolutely. There is nothing more humbling or amazing than being a part of empowering people to make change in their community. If you have the ideas and will to make a difference, you can do it. Plan smart, work hard, and fight for every last vote. If you don’t win the first time, keep doing the work to build your community up, and then run again. Trust me, it’s all worth it.