Stephanie Myers was onstage at a Democratic unity rally at the Knight Center, giving a speech about answering the call to get involved, when a voice rang out from the crowd. "Run for office!" a woman yelled.
Myers, a lead organizer of the filled-to-capacity Women's Rally of South Florida, laughed and kept going. But now she says the moment felt like a sign.
"I just couldn't ignore the fact that here I am talking about answering a call to serve," she says, laughing, "and that it was so loud."
Days later, this past April 24, the 43-year-old Fort Lauderdale resident filed to run for the Florida House District 93 seat held by the term-limited Republican George Moraitis.
A native Miamian who works as a patient relations specialist for a medical practice, Myers says that until recently, she never would have imagined herself running for office. Though she calls herself a lifelong Democrat, she was never involved in political activism. Then came 2016 and the election of Donald Trump.
When Myers saw a Facebook post late last November asking whether anyone would be interested in organizing a South Florida event in solidarity with the Women's March on Washington, she quickly volunteered, worried about what Trump's platform on issues such as the environment and immigration could mean for South Florida. "I just knew it needed to happen," she says.
Myers and co-organizer Laura Sawyer-Broder, a middle-school classmate she hadn't spoken to in years, expected a turnout of around 3,000 people for the January 21 event at Bayfront Park. Instead, more than 15,000 showed up, packing the park and spilling onto downtown streets.
"I don't have the words to explain how humbling the entire experience was," Myers says. "And for the first time in my life, I felt that I had done something good in the world."
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SHOW ME HOW
She wanted to stay involved, so she joined the Broward Democratic Party, the Broward Progressive Caucus, and the board of the Broward County ACLU. But when she asked around about the best way to effect change, the answer was always the same: Run for office. She laughed the idea off until she heard it so many times — including in the middle of her speech — that she began to agree.
Finally, she took the leap, launching a campaign centered on issues including conserving the environment, investing in public education, raising the minimum wage, and reforming the criminal justice system.
"This is no longer a time when I can be idle," Myers says.
Correction: This piece earlier misstated the name of the school attended by Laura Sawyer-Broder.