Julie Lythcott-Haims Shares Why She Chose to Fight (for America).
October 13, 2022
Julie roots for humans. She works to help humans thrive. She has degrees from Stanford, Harvard Law, and California College of the Arts, but she's not done learning. She plans to learn and grow until she draws her last breath. She lives in Palo Alto, California with her beloved life partner of 34 years, their itinerant twentysomethings, and her mother.

What did you do prior to running for office?

I’ve been a corporate lawyer, a Stanford dean, an author of bestselling nonfiction books, a TED

speaker, and a board member on over a dozen non-profit boards. Along the way I married my

boyfriend and we just celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. Together, we raised two kids with the help of my mother.

What inspired you to run for office?

At a national level, this American moment has been freaking me out, making me afraid for my

future and that of my children, and motivating me to think about leaving the country. But then I

realized that so much good can and must be done at the local level, such as in my city, which has

an affordable housing crisis such that young adults, workers, and seniors are priced out. My

amygdala was making me freeze or want to flee for awhile there, but instead, I’m staying put and

fighting for what I believe in.

Here’s the provocative blog post in which I announced my run. Here’s the press release.

What did you have to think through as you prepared for the run?

The obvious answer is: Why do people think I can do this, and do I think I can do this? If so, what’s my “why” on the issues and my qualifications, and how can I articulate that succinctly?

But the more tactical considerations include: What does it take to be a candidate, let alone to

lead, if elected? What topics do I need to come up to speed on, and who can help me learn it all?

How much do I need to raise, and what’s the best way to spend those funds? Who will be on my

team and how do I keep them motivated?

And the deeply personal: How am I going to protect my family time? How will I look after my

health? What will happen to my friendships? Am I ever going to have sex again?

What scared you about running for office?

As the primary breadwinner for my family, who is self-employed to boot, I worry about how to “do it all” which is of course a common concern that professional women have faced for decades.

What has surprised you as part of your run?

The intellectual growth. I already have three degrees (B.A., J.D.; M.F.A in Writing). By running for

council I feel like I’ve gone back to grad school where I’m trying to earn a Master’s in Palo Alto

History and Policy. I’ve found the learning process to be very intellectually nourishing. Win or lose, I’ll take that growth with me and be grateful for it.

What resources have you found useful and helpful as you run?

Former candidates, former electeds, and current electeds who have been willing to share

everything from small tips to overarching philosophy. Also the city’s documents from the

Comprehensive Plan to the Rails Commission reports. And books like The Color of Law and

Golden Gates: Fighting for Housing in America. So much work has been done by so many others,

and it’s critical that I understand the past if I’m to try to be of use in the present and future.

What women are on your radar?

Cherrie Beasley, Lauren Underwood, Catherine Cortez Masto, Nan Whalen. All four of these

women are running for pivotal positions in a state other than mine. Three are women of color. I’ve had a chance to meet them all on their fundraising tours through Silicon Valley and I’m

completely inspired by their candidacies.

My mother is also on my radar. She’s an 83-year-old immigrant turned American citizen who

takes the right to vote more seriously than any other human I know. We all live together. She’s

proud of me. She keeps me going.

Finally, my 21-year-old daughter Avery is on my radar. Everything I do, I do in furtherance of

making the world better for her (and her brother) and for any children they may have, and for all of our children’s children.

What are you currently obsessed with OR one thing you highly recommend?

TikTok. I think many people mistake it for a place where only dance trends happen. But I find it to

be a great source of CONTENT on issues like coping with ADHD and anxiety, improving our

mental health, strengthening relationships, and standing up for the causes we believe in.

Also, I compete with my partner Dan to complete the New York Times crossword seven days a

week! Thanks to a grueling campaign schedule we haven’t sat down to do it in awhile, but we’ll

get back to it in November and I’m going to try to improve my win/loss record against him. (I’m

the competitive one but he beats me 4 out of 7 times. Drives me nuts!)

Which work tools/courses/apps have made your life easier? 

I couldn’t live without the voice-to-text feature on my iPhone and keyboard shortcuts. I think I

save hours a day with those tools.



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