Delegate Candidate Helga Luest

March 3, 2018

#MeToo in Montgomery County

I was moved by the statement made by Senator Kagan yesterday about her experiences with sexual harassment and, unfortunately, a very recent groping incident. The reality is that even in this #MeToo climate, many men continue to use their power and influence to harass, abuse, and silence others. In politics, and as a candidate for Delegate, I believe we should lead by example and that character matters now more than ever – which is why I would like to share an experience.

In December, Senate candidate Jeff Waldstreicher suggested to me that I do him “a favor” by running in the Senate race. I was shocked, offended, and felt disrespected. The request – presumably made to split the vote and make it tougher for his then only opponent, Dana Beyer – wasn’t a joke and neither of us laughed. Women work hard to move into leadership positions and we should be respected for stepping up to run for office.

It’s been 30 years since I survived an attempted murder – an experience that led me to work on positive social change as a national advocate on victim rights and violence prevention. I’ve worked on numerous policies at the state and federal levels, and just this past week, years of advocacy lead to the successful bi-partisan passage of a Congressional Resolution to better support trauma survivors. I’m not a write-off to help split the vote and the days of men using women to maintain or attain new positions of power are gone.

Senate candidate Waldstreicher tried to maneuver that with me and I later learned in a blog post that he tried to use his power and influence to convince Dana Beyer to leave the Senate race and down-slate so he would have no opponent.

Once he became aware that I reached out to a journalist, Senate candidate Waldstreicher then called me and told me he thought I needed to “reframe” what happened as a joke. It was not a joke, that’s not how I took his suggestion, and I felt his call was intended to further intimidate and silence me.

Integrity matters, which is why I’m sharing this experience now. For men who continue sexist and misogynistic behavior, #TimesUp – even if they don’t realize it until they are named.