In 2007, the youngest Deidre Henderson’s kids went off to preschool. Long interested in politics, she decided she was ready to turn that interest into activism.
In January 2008, she went to her first cottage meeting and met Jason Chaffetz, a long-shot running against a 12-year incumbent. The day after that first cottage meeting, she went to another one at the Chaffetz home. This one was for people who wanted to sign up and become volunteers. She decided she could make phone calls in Spanish Fork.
A couple of short weeks later, she was asked to be in charge of all of Utah county. She held that position until Chaffetz left convention with over 59% of the vote and she then became the political director.
She did a little of everything on the campaign – and learned a lot. She learned to write press releases, to do media outreach, to schedule and to speak for her candidate. She feels she grew into her role as political director and was mentored by campaign manager, Jennifer Scott who worked hand-in-hand with her. Her campaign office was her laundry room and she juggled campaign and family while she worked from home as much as possible.
In 2012, Deidre announced her candidacy for the newly created Senate District 7. She left the county convention with over 70% of the vote. Mid-summer, her Democratic opponent dropped out of the race, ensuring her victory in November. On Jan 28, 2013, she was sworn in as a new Utah Senator. As the chair of Revenue and Taxation, she will play a key role in the 2013 legislation session.
She has some tips for people wanting to work politics. First and foremost, you must “pay your dues”. You can’t just jump in cold turkey and expect to be making big bucks with no experience. Deidre feels it is essential that you believe in a cause, that you are dependable and that you realize that you will spend a lot of time working for little or no money before people are willing to hire you. (And when that finally does happen, it still probably won’t be for big bucks.)
Find your niche. Do what you’re good at and what you love. It is important to realize no one is good at everything. Good leaders know to surround themselves by those who are strong in areas they are weak.
“Technology has made it possible for me to do what I do.” she said. Politics is addicting. It’s not a 9-5 proposition – it’s always there, there is always more to be done, so she makes a concerted effort to find time for family by taking a few hours off when her kids come home from school and as much as possible, takes the weekends off.
In the end, being involved in politics really is all about our families and the world we will leave them. Senator Henderson will surely leave her mark on Utah, in all the right ways.