Yesterday was election day in Sunderland, local offices only. My term on the school committee was up, but I wanted to serve another as I know I contribute a lot. There was a second seat up for election too, but she decided that her two terms were enough. Usually it's a problem finding folks willing to serve, so I figured we'd recruit someone and than that would be it, still an election but not contested.
Wrong. We recruited someone but then two others got themselves on the ballot and now there was a contest, 4 candidates, two seats, voters can vote for up to two and the top two get seats.
Not really what I had bargained for. I was somewhat pissed, not wanting to deal with campaigning (such as it is in a very small town), but also not really wanting to lose.
After some thought I decided that a phrase that I have used in the past also could apply here -- I should treat the election and the campaign as an "interesting life experience." Meaning, it will be something that you might not enjoy, but you might learn something, there's a value to doing something new, and with the right attitude it might not be that bad,
I had a campaign manager of sorts, another committee member who knew lots of people and wanted me to stay on the committee. That was good for morale. There were two things I figured I needed to do. One was to talk to folks I had known over the years here. The other was to prepare for the debate.
I made a list of folks I thought I should contact, came up to about 40. I really had little desire to start calling on them, but at some point it had to be done. And, as I had hoped this interesting life experience might be, there were certainly positive aspects. A variety of conversations ranging from a couple of minutes to half an hour, every single one positive. I kept it up until a couple of days ago, got just about all the way through my list. Last one was a guy I've known for a long time, conservative, concerned that the anti-racism curriculum that the school started working on last fall would also contain a bunch of liberal indoctrination. Went to his house a few mornings ago, coffee at the kitchen table, walked out not quite two hours later, big smile. Great conversation, a lot of life stories on both sides, figuring out where you had things in common, where you had differences. Just a joy.
The other part was the debate, more precisely a Candidates Forum. Zoom meeting, moderated by the library director. The rules were that you had up to ten minutes for an opening statement, then there would be questions from the audience, then at some point a couple of minutes for a closing statement.
I am used to speaking off the cuff, also used to speaking before crowds, but I figured it was best if I actually wrote out my opening statement. So I did, the day before. And read it through, about 5 minutes. And then edited it, and edited it some more, and some more, finally about 7 minutes, and read it through a bunch of times. Just because, well, I may be used to speaking before crowds but that doesn't mean I don't get nervous. Seriously nervous.
But the moment it started the nerves went away. And it was another interesting life experience in the best sense of the phrase. When it was over I had the feeling I'd done really well.
But you still never know who is going to vote.
And so yesterday, back with the nervous routine. Silly, really, my life would be a lot simpler if I lost. But as much as it adds stress to my life, especially the last 13 months as we have dealt with the changing circumstances of the Covid era, I still really like it. Like the fact that I make a serious contribution.
The Town Clerk called me up a while after the polls closed. 198 voters showed up (about a 10% turnout), I had 153 votes, the woman we had recruited had 95, the other two 53 and 49. What can you do but smile. And then talk to the Town Clerk -- I've known her for some 30 years -- for probably half an hour, just about stuff in town, real good vibes.
Another big smile, and at this point in life, smiles are always a good thing.
-- The flyer
for the Candidates Forum
-- The Candidates Forum on Youtube
, if you are really bored. I'm the third speaker, and then there are a bunch of interesting questions that we all respond to.
in today's local paper.
-- Note that very observant readers of this log might recognize the photo I submitted. It was this one
, suitably cropped. :-)