Meet Erin Smith

I’m Erin Smith, and I’m running to represent you as your California State Senator.

Like so many of you reading this, I’m a transplant: in my case I hail from the rural Mississippi Delta, where I grew up on my family’s farm. I can also document my ancestry back to Pocahontas, a weird little fact that (along with four dollars) is usually enough to get me a large light roast at Philz.

I attended Ole Miss and studied philosophy and economics, but my passions led me to become an FAA certificated pilot and U. S. Coast Guard licensed unlimited tonnage Merchant Marine Officer. I capped my seagoing career by sailing as Master of an American-flagged Anchor Handling Towing/Supply vessel for five years, where one of my very first experiences in command was responding to the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Taking a ship to sea as her captain taught me a lot about what it means to be responsible for the lives and well-being of dozens of people and hundreds of millions of dollars worth of assets, and one of my most valued possessions is the ship’s bell (signed by my crew) that I was given on my last day aboard ship.

I first came to San Francisco on a lark almost a decade ago, drawn by its iconoclastic reputation. A near-death experience in 2014 finally drove me to quit my job the following year, sell almost everything I own, and set off on a roadtrip across America with a few bulging boxes tossed in a van and Skrimshaw (my loyal rescue pit bull) at my side, intending to make the relocation permanent.

It’s been a whirlwind experience since: I’ve changed genders, met fascinating people and made friends across the entire political spectrum, backpacked around Asia and Oceania for most of a year, dodged an earthquake in New Zealand, barely missed being trapped by the Fort McMurray wildfire in Alberta, and even managed to stumble onto the cover of Time magazine at one point.

All of these experiences have convinced me that the world is indeed a fine place filled with mostly decent people, and (despite all its manifest flaws) to still adore this wacky community perched so precariously on a curl of Pacific coastline.

My story is definitely unconventional, but I’m grateful to have sampled such a wide variety of the human experience and had the chance to prove my leadership under trying circumstances. And that is why I am such a fitting choice to represent you in the California State Senate.