Donna Bebo, a mother of four daughters and Democratic candidate for the House of Representatives from Oklahoma, has worked as a waitress, clerk, and utility locating technician. She describes herself as "not your typical politician."
In anticipation of the November 6 congressional elections, HuffPost Women caught up with her about who she is, why she's running and how to get involved with her campaign.
What's your favorite quality in another person?
Integrity. I have great respect for individuals that can be counted upon to do what is right even if it isn’t what’s right for them, personally.
What three words best describe you?
Determined, sincere, compassionate.
What's your biggest flaw?
My humility. I generally wouldn’t characterize that as a flaw. But, in politics, being able to talk about yourself is very important. I’m not a boastful person and so, this has been one of my biggest obstacles to overcome.
What failure are you most grateful for?
I’m human. So, I’ve had my share of failures. While there may be things I would change if given the opportunity, I am grateful for the lessons that came with every single one of my failures.
If you weren't you, who would you be?
It has taken me just over 35 years to become “me.” I can’t imagine being anyone else.
If you could live anywhere, where would that be?
As a military family, we’ve moved around quite a bit. My dream home is our little house in the small town of Fletcher, Oklahoma. If I could live anywhere, I’d hope to stay right here where our roots are finally able to grow.
What woman do you most look up to?
The woman I look up to most is the military wife. She deals with heartbreak, stress, financial hardships, and grief. She does it all without ever receiving a paycheck, simply because she has such a profound love for her spouse and our nation.
What's the best advice you've ever been given?
My mother once told me to pay attention to how the men I dated treated our servers when we went out to eat. She said that the respect (or disrespect) they showed was a good indicator of the man that lurked underneath the charming smile. I think that advice applies outside the realm of dating. Many people’s true character is evident by how they treat their waitresses (or waiters).
What's your joy trigger?
I try my best to find joy in even the simplest moments. But, at night, when I sit outside on my porch, I can hear the crickets, coyotes, and howling wind. I can see the big Oklahoma sky and, in that moment, I find perfect peace.
What is your favorite book?
I generally stick to non-fiction. But, if I had to choose one book it would be the one I’ve read the most to my children, “Horton Hears a Who.” It provides a good reminder for us all that our voices can be heard when we join together for a common cause.
What is your favorite album?
I love anything by the Indigo Girls. There’s an honest quality to their music that I can respect and relate to.
Where did you have the best meal of your life?
My husband and I both love to cook. Many of our favorite moments are in the kitchen, together. So, I couldn’t possibly narrow it down to just one meal. But, the ones that we’ve cooked for family and friends are the ones I treasure the most.
What is your favorite thing you've ever worn and why?
My favorite thing to wear is a smile. A confident smile is the most important thing a woman can possess and a loving smile is one of our most important gifts to the world.
What talent do you wish you had?
I would love to have a photographic memory. I’ve always been a bit envious of people who can just look at something once and remember it verbatim.
What quality or accomplishment do you want people to know you for?
In everything I do, be it political or personal, my responsibility to my children guides me. I stand up in the name of equality in the hope that they will grow up in a more tolerant and compassionate world. I promote a greener future so that they won’t be burdened with cleaning up our messes. Every cause, I fight for is largely inspired by my hope that my girls will be able to be accepted for exactly who they are and will inherit a cleaner and more secure world than the one they were born into.
I suppose my greatest accomplishment would be to tackle these issues so that my children won’t have to. But, also, to raise women who are capable enough and confident enough to handle whatever new issues come their way.
What makes you feel the most free?
My husband still owns the same old pick-up truck that he had when we were dating. There’s really nothing more freeing than an afternoon with the windows down driving the back roads with him.
Why are you running?
I am running because I simply cannot sit by and watch our obstructive Congress continue to allowing partisanship and campaign strategy to dictate the legacy we leave for our children.
What is the most important issue for women in this election?
Obviously women’s health is a big issue this election year. But, it’s impossible to narrow it down to just one “most important” issue for women. I think it would be a mistake to assume that women are one issue votes. We also care about the economy and are deeply concerned with the legacy we are leaving for our next generation in regards to education and the environment.
I think the single most important issue for women voters this year is to ensure that our voices are heard. We are severely underrepresented. Working to fix that should be a priority. We need to vote and we need to recruit and support good, strong female candidates. Thankfully, there are many organizations working to address this very issue. Those organizations deserve our thanks and support.
How can readers get involved in your campaign?
Anyone interested in learning more about the campaign and how they can help can visit BeboforCongress.com or follow us on Facebook and Twitter. This is a truly grassroots campaign. We are not accepting any PAC donations and are entirely funded by individual voters. One of the best ways people can help out is simply by helping us spread the word.