Stephisha is Voted EmergeCA 2023 Class Rep!

Graduating from Emerge CA not only prepared me to run and win this race but also gave me a profound sense of sisterhood along the way.

Stephisha Ycoy-Walton

6/10/20234 min read

After the lunch break we return to training ready to go through the process of elections. We had discussed thoroughly what the game plan was, how we we would be nominated and who would second the nomination. We chatted about the possibility of the unforeseen, or so at least we thought. After announcing we would run on a slate, we were informed that wasn't possible in this particular election. Uh oh! What would we do now? In a matter of seconds we went from allies to political competitors! At this point, we would run against one another, as well as the other candidates who were nominated. After everyone spoke to their strengths, the votes started pouring in. Every person casted their vote and placed their notification in the chat box while we waited for confirmation from Lindsay and Ales that all votes had been casted!

As the last vote comes in, everyone holds their breath as the count takes place! The Emerge team comes back and says, "Okay ladies, we have had something happen that has never happened in history! We have a tie!" No way was this happening! A TIE?! What

After the third weekend of Emerge training, elections for Class Rep and Vice Rep were held. Where did this come from?? It was all happening so fast! I can't begin to explain the anxiety that began to consume me during this moment because it was a series of events that unfolded faster than I could blink. Honestly, I never considered running for Class Representative because I already hold several positions of leadership and I was unsure if this would stretch me too thin! Then, one of my Emerge sisters from La Mesa, in Southern California, contacted me on our lunch break! She asked me if I would run on a slate with her. I could piece together what a slate was although I wasn't too familiar with the term. I agreed although there were literally 2 hours until the election! She whipped up this super fancy graphic and sent it over to me! Boy oh boy was I impressed! Time to get this show on the road!

would we do now? Lauren and I talked about the possibility of situations like this but never thought it could actually come to pass in this short amount of time! They announce to candidates tied for first place and it's me and Rowena Brown. Then out of nowhere, one of our sisters, Jameelah Hanif, comes off of mute and says,"Wait! I haven't voted!" This was becoming better than a midday soap opera! Our moderators begin to explain that the voting process is complete and that they cannot accept anymore votes, but after Jameelah's plea of reasoning of being in the ladies room, they allow her to vote! She casts her vote and after it's received, the moderators set to announce the winner of the Election.

"With a simple majority vote, we would like to announce that the your elected Class Representative for the 2023 EmergeCA cohort is....(drumroll please)...Stephisha Ycoy-Walton...and your Vice Rep...Rowena Brown!"

At this moment, I was total shock. I went from not having a thought of entering this race to being elected as the Class Representative within a matter of 2 hours. This moment taught me an invaluable lesson: Sometimes others believe in your abilities to lead them more than you believe in your abilities to lead them and that should never be taken lightly. In this time, I knew I had been chosen to lead and because it's inherently in my nature, I stepped up the plate. My wife, Viveca, and my son Karter danced, laughed and congratulated me behind the computer screen as they helped me picked my jaw up from the floor. The excitement was entirely too much and I couldn't believe this was happening. What a whirlwind of events to set off the second half of Emerge Training.

Never did I not believe in myself. I accepted this role and responsibility with the mindset of, "I get to lead!" Furthermore, I see it as an honor and a privilege to be chosen as the Class Representative because for the rest of my life, I will connected to a network of phenomenal women looking to do phenomenal things. What better way to change the world than to lock arms with those who have a true passion for the mission of creating avenues of opportunity?

According to Emerge, "Our program equips leaders with the resources, knowledge, connections, and community necessary to run for office and win. Since 2002, we have recruited and trained more than 850 Democratic women across California. When Emerge California alumnae run for office, they win nearly 70% of the time. That’s why today, more than 200 of our alums are serving in elected office. We intentionally recruit women who represent the New American Majority — Black, Brown and Indigenous women, women of color, LGBTQ+ women, young, and unmarried women."

As a masculine-centered African-American woman living in the heart of East Oakland married to a beautiful wife of 10 years with a 9 year old son, it sounds just like EmergeCA was meant to recruit and train Stephisha Ycoy-Walton to run and win.

Thanks for the suggestion Former Mayor Libby Schaff. I appreciate you. Genuinely.