Marla’s Mostly Political Story
Why did I start Candidate Accountability Programs, The Psychology of Campaigning? I believe in bringing solutions to issues rather than just complaining about things I disagree with.
The Name: Full disclosure – I am not a psychologist, but we based the program on the use of psychology to mount a successful political campaign. I recently completed a course that involved psychology and counseling and it led to a very big change in the way I look at myself and in how to reach my goals. Goals are reached quicker when we are held accountable for our choices and decisions. Becoming a political candidate is a huge decision. Therefore, Candidate Accountability Programs.
Business Background: When I declared my candidacy for congress, I had been a passionate entrepreneur with an extensive background in leadership across industries; banking, community associations (which operate as mini governments), and their management, real estate, infrastructure acquisition, and marketing campaigns for turn key projects. My first project in Utah was marketing a one-day technology event to business executives.
Volunteerism: I have been responsible for large budgets, serving on many non-profit boards, both as president and in other capacities and raised thousands of dollars for causes I believe in. I have been founder and co-founder of several nonprofits, started a Legislative Action Committee, serving as chair and working with elected officials and their staffs on Utah’s Capitol Hill.
My Candidacy: In 2017, appalled by Trump’s election and feeling compelled to do something to contribute to the unseating of his administration, I joined a group who were determined to have the Republican representing Utah’s 4th Congressional District hold a Town Hall to address issues.
Our group of six women and a newborn baby met with her staff a couple of times, accompanied by a polite group of protesters. The group became known as Utah’s CD4 Collation. In our third meeting we came prepared with a detailed outline for the Town Hall designed to overcome our representative’s objections. All she had to do was show up. We gave her staff a deadline to RSVP, saying that if she did not participate, we would hold the Town Hall without her.
The day of the deadline, her staff member called me saying that our representative would not participate. The evening of the Town Hall, I announced my candidacy to represent Utah’s 4th Congressional District.
I was inexperienced and naïve, but knew I had to educate myself quickly, had to raise at least $500,000 by the Salt Lake County Convention, where the nominee to run against the Republican opponent would be selected. I had four opponents. I met with one who withdrew after our meeting. I flew to Spokane to attend a weekend training for first-time Democratic Women Candidates and their support staffs offered by a national organization.
A CPA friend, experienced in governmental reporting, volunteered to by my Treasurer. I loaned startup money to the campaign and hired a firm to set up my website and social media. They arranged a photo shoot, helped me with my platform and positioned me.
Fundraising: I called, emailed, and used social media tools. My average contribution was in excess of $100, excellent for a first-time candidate. I led one opponent and was slightly behind another in fundraising. There are PACs that do not reflect my values and ethics and I would not take money from them, even if offered. An out of state PAC whose ethics I agreed with made a nice donation.
Glad Handing, But Not Yet Kissing Babies: I made appointments and held strategic meetings with influential leaders, talked to everyone I could – store clerks, fellow shoppers, neighbors – anyone who would give me a few seconds. We paid for a full page add in the program for biggest Salt Lake County Democratic fundraiser. I met with Democratic and community leaders.
Convention and More Glad Handing: The State Democratic Convention went well. I was able to speak to many caucuses and draft a few volunteers. A homeless friend spoke for me at a couple of caucuses I could not make. Following the convention, it was time to look for paid help.
Paid Staff: I needed to keep raising money so I could hire a campaign manager. In the meantime, I hired my first paid staff. She had been involved in a major state wide campaign, had a law degree as well as a degree in political science and could introduce me to key people.
Summer: The height of campaign season is summer, with parades, picnics and BBQ’s I attended every event I could, paying for tabling when necessary and giving stump speeches. I invented inexpensive ways to participate.
More Opposition: There had been rumors that well-known former Democratic State Senator Ben McAdams and current County Mayor may run to represent CD4. In early October the rumor became fact. Ben was a moderate and a much more experience candidate with a campaign staff in place. I aligned with most of his platform.
My Campaign Ends: I withdrew and threw my support to Ben, working very hard as precinct chair to help him win the election, which he did, by less than 700 votes.
I help other campaigns: After withdrawing, I volunteered for many candidates and gained experience phoning, door knocking and canvassing. I learned what works and what does not when door knocking and also for scripts.
Party Activism: It was important to stay active in the party. Many candidates who lose elections fade away. I accepted the offer from the Salt Lake County Democratic Party to be their fundraising chair. As precinct chair, I was a delegate to the Salt Lake Democratic Party and to the Utah State Convention. I became a member of state and county caucuses. I joined the Utah Women’s Club, later serving on the Executive Committee as treasurer. The club is over 100 years old and raises funds to support Democratic Women Candidates.
Political Background: I became politically active as a young mother in Hawaii when asked to door knock for a Democratic candidate running for the Hawaii State Legislature. I said yes, and took my three babies with me. I attended a leadership program sponsored by a southern California Chamber of Commerce and was asked to run for city council. The timing wasn’t right for me but I supported a few candidates over the years.
Family: I am married to Harold Collins Bowers (Collie), II. He owned Salt Lake City based businesses before retiring. He has two children and 6 grandchildren.
I have a large and diverse family scattered all over the US. I have a Hispanic daughter-in-law, two Hispanic grandsons, three black grandchildren and a great granddaughter who is Native American.
Preparing to Campaign: I invested in collateral materials, worked on stump speeches, gathered a team of volunteers - one had worked as paid staff for Democratic candidates. I did research on my opponents, studied demographics, drew up an election plan and began raising money. In the spring and early summer, I participated in many marches and protests for causes I believed in.