Welcome to the MyShingle profile series, Run Solo Run where we feature solo and small law firm owners running for office. In this piece, we’re profiling Valeria N. Tomlin owner of Tomlin Law Offices a family law firm in Largo, Maryland — my home state. Tomlin is a candidate for Delegate for Maryland District 23. The primary will be held on July 19th with early voting on July 7, and the top three candidates will secure one of three available seats. Tomlin’s campaign website is www.FriendsofValeriaTomlin.com and you can also follow her on Twitter at @VoteVtomlin and Instagram at votevtomlin.
Thanks so much for participating in our series. What position are you running for?
I am running for Delegate of Maryland District 23. There are three seats and one is held by incumbent Marvin Holmes.
Have you held office before, or is this your first campaign?
I have never held a political office before.
What made you decide to run for this position?
Unadulterated frustration with the status quo and the unwillingness of people to get involved. I figured I would lead by example. Democracy is not a spectator sport. You must be hopeful, courageous, and humble when you try to galvanize others and demand change. I cannot complain and stand unwilling to sacrifice, so I submitted my name in February for this position.
My desire to run was also informed by my own experience. It is common knowledge (at least within the Maryland bar) that I received a grievance from a male client and the process has taken an obscene amount of time. The Bar Counsel and Grievance system needs revamping and the anonymous complaints, primarily used by colleagues, must be eliminated. The anonymous complaints are politically and personally motivated with little, if any, focus on the public. The entire experience led me to this decision to run for office. It is difficult to effectuate change unless you become apart of the system that impacts all of us.
Can you summarize a few key points of your platform?
Children, community, and environment are the top three. So many other issues such as funding, schools, and employment are enmeshed within these three focal points of my platform.
What steps are involved in launching a run in your district/for your office?
First, I submitted my name and completed the paperwork with the State Board of Elections in Annapolis. Then I took a breath and realized that I would need a photo — which immediately made me question how I might lose forty pounds in a week for my pictures. Once I accepted my weight loss journey was futile, I found a team that could assist me and started grinding.
Has your family been supportive of your efforts? Unbelievably, I am very much a home body, but I am a mother of four extraordinary children who continue to inspire me to new challenges. Maya is 27 and is a creative who has a YouTube channel and sings. She has 75 thousand YouTube subscribers and also has a Patreon account where she does personal reactions. Caleb is in his 2nd year at West Point Military Academy and Canaan just finished his first year at Morehouse. My baby girl Zion is 16, who is also a creative who acts and models. She is currently working on a ProActive campaign.
What kinds of activities have you engaged to get the word out about your run?
Most people do not know who their Delegate is or realize that their Delegates help make the laws by which they abide. I have invested in print material, the MDVan for canvassing, hosted events at senior communities and successfully completed a grocery giveaway for those most in need. I will be phone banking and canvassing till the last day.
How time-consuming is your campaign, and is it tough to balance with your law practice?
This is a tremendous amount of work, but I have embraced the process. Anything worth having requires effort. I can always use more donations and vibrant people at my precincts for early voting and the primary. Money is the mother’s milk of politics is a true statement. It takes money to reach people and you must reach them a few times to saturate.
What kind of support have you had from other lawyers?
My close friends have been incredibly supportive. This is one time; however, I wish I were not such a homebody. I have reached more colleagues after shining a light on the grievance process, but I could really use more support. I love what I do, and I know many attorneys that feel the same way.
How has your experience as an attorney and/or a law firm owner been an asset in running for office?
My skills nicely transfer to this arena. I deal with families and their concerns daily so fielding complaints come naturally. am accustomed to addressing groups and extemporaneously speaking. You never know what someone will ask, but I am comfortable. My level of comfort appears to translate well with others. I will have a staff once elected and because I deal with staff all the time, I think this will make any transition during session seamless.
For those of us who have lawyer friends and colleagues running for office, how can we support them?
Check-in on them. As attorneys we are often self-driven and do not like asking for help or money. I fit into this category. I enjoy giving but asking is not in my wheelhouse. Do not wait for them to ask, offer. They need your time and your money. The campaign process is short. Do what you can as often as you can with the knowledge that it will be over soon!
What advice can you give to other law firm owners who may be thinking about running for office or becoming more politically involved?
DO IT!!! Remember to INVITE your colleagues in when you win. EVERYONE! Not just your friends. Everyone has had an experience and a life that we can learn from and dispel some mindsets that are not positive. Do not be afraid to extend yourself. I am talking to myself as well. This process unearths you in a way that grows and strengthens you.