On Nov. 7, 2023, voters in Hillsborough, North Carolina cast their ballots to fill three seats on their community’s town board. On the ballot were two incumbents, one partisan newcomer, and one independent challenger: Good Party certified candidate Victoria Masika. While Masika did not end up winning her race to become town commissioner, she still made a positive impact on her community and brought meaningful choice to voters on election day.
Good Party spoke with Victoria Masika about what she learned from running her first independent campaign and why it’s important for voters to have independent options in local elections. Masika has been an educator in North Carolina for over 20 years, and she said that voters found her perspective as an outsider to local politics refreshing.
“People want people to run for office that they know genuinely have their best interest at heart,” Masika said. “People want people to run for office that are going through the same struggles that they're going through. I think there's a separation between what people deem to be a politician versus somebody that's a real person, that they know really does have their best interest at heart.”
The core issues Masika focused on during her campaign were support for teachers and early childhood education, cultural diversity, and affordable housing. While connecting with voters on the issues, she was able to draw on her strengths as a teacher.
“Being an educator who’s taught almost every grade except college really helps me to be able to communicate with people,” Masika said. “As a teacher, you have to adapt to the student that's in front of you, and you have to be able to communicate differently with every student. That definitely was a transferable skill going on the campaign trail, because you could communicate with one person that's a little bit elderly and hear their concerns and know how to communicate with them. Then you go to their very next-door neighbor, and they may be very business-like and put together, and you have to shift the way you would have a conversation with them. I think those were definitely transferable skills. You have to know how to talk to all kinds of people.”
This ability to connect and relate with people of different backgrounds came into play throughout Masika’s campaign. In total, her team knocked on 5,914 doors and made over 500 calls to get out the vote in the community, partly through the help of Good Party volunteers.
“I'm super grateful for Good Party and the volunteers that you guys had, because I had so many people say to me that it was refreshing to see young people engaged in politics,” Masika said.
Masika said she plans to run for elected office again in the near future.
Next time, she hopes to build on her learnings from this first campaign. For example, while her campaign benefitted from endorsements and volunteer support, Masika said she would likely adjust her priorities the next time around.
“Looking back, I don't think I really appreciated the gravity of how much work it really is to campaign. It's not for the faint of heart,” Masika said.
Even with the challenges that campaigning poses, however, running as an independent and giving voters the option to break from the status quo is a more than worthwhile pursuit. Independent candidates like Masika provide their communities with an avenue for real change.
Masika said she’s noticed her community’s hunger for more representative and effective local governance.
“In today's political climate, with all the drama that we're seeing even in the presidential election, people really do want people that are in their best interests, that are not serving themselves but that are genuinely working together to make things better for their town and their state,” she said. “I definitely got the sense that they were happy to see somebody different [running for office] — an educator, not just a politician.”
To learn more about Masika’s campaign and join her email list to stay up-to-date with the latest news, visit her campaign website. You can also support more independent candidates like Victoria Masika by signing up to volunteer with Good Party. Our mission is to make people matter more than money in our democracy, starting at the grassroots level in local communities like Hillsborough.