Living between red and blue Officials, candidates straddle life in politics and parenting

It’s often said one of the more fulfilling aspects of life is parenthood. Being a parent can be compared to having a full-time job on top other career obligations.

As a politician, the role of a parent is still largely the same as any other working class citizen, but challenges stem from being in the public’s eye while managing a private life at home.

For parents who also take the role of an elected official, it’s a sacrifice that involves the cooperation and support from family.

Will Conley, Republican Candidate for County Judge, is no stranger to the life of an elected official; his family has been involved in politics for nearly two decades.

Conley’s three children range from four to 14 years and have only known their father as Will Conley the businessman, father and politician.

“It’s a family affair and you can’t really separate the two,” Conley said. “I work very long and unpredictable hours which sometimes keeps me away from my home and children. It takes a big sacrifice for all of our family, but the older the kids get, the better they understand.”

During the 2015 Memorial Day flood, which took the lives of several Hays County residents and devastated the Wimberley and San Marcos community, Conley spent virtually three months away from his family, spending his days with flood relief efforts and sleeping late at night before repeating the same process early the next morning.

“That was a point in my career where I know they made a huge sacrifice because I was so busy with everything going on with the flood,” Conley said. “I’d like to think I’m a lot of better at it now than I was 10 years ago, but I’m constantly learning how to balance being a father and in the eye of the public.”

On the opposite side of life is Julie Oliver, who is seeking the candidacy for the United States House of Representatives for District 25. If elected, this would be Oliver’s first major task in the public’s eye, a challenge she and her family is ready to embrace.

Two of Oliver’s children are in their 20s, one is 19 and the youngest is nine years old. Before deciding to run for Congress, Oliver wanted to be certain she had the support from her family during the long journey ahead.

“My older kids obviously understand a lot more than my nine-year-old, and there are times where she gets a little flustered with all the campaigning,” Oliver said. “But it’s all a process. I’m proud to say I am part of a working-class family and we aren’t afraid to ask our friends and family for help while I’m away from home when we need it.”  

It’s no secret that the life of a politician is susceptible to scrutiny. The voting community always has eyes on its elected officials, formulating opinions on whether to keep them in office as an election cycle is always approaching in the distance.

Every decision made on the dias and every word said at a public function can be the center of controversy for elected officials.

Conley said the thought of his children being criticized for the decisions he’s made does cross his mind, but he worries more about speculative rumors about himself or his family.

“Unfortunately, It’s part of the job description and it’s what we signed up for,” Conley said. “You think about all the bologna people say about you and your family just purely to push their political agenda. It’s something you have to accept, but you still worry about it.”

Oliver said her campaign has received comments on social media that she would classify as hate speech. But despite the adversity, she continues to run her campaign in hopes of reaching her goal.

“Too often society paints women for having particular roles and expectations but there is such an important aspect of being a mom and campaign that I feel gives me the ability to focus on many things at once,” Oliver said. “Campaigning is tough and tiring work. But we push through because, at the end of the day, we want to let people understand that we represent them.”

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