Well, here I am on the cusp of six months served as a city commissioner. Now that I’ve had some “seasoning,” I thought I could, from time to time, write a little blog post about my experiences and thoughts. I’ve never had a blog before… but I’ve never been a city commissioner before, either.
First things first. How did I get into this gig? Well, while you all were enjoying last year’s spring, summer, and fall, I was knocking on doors. 881 doors, to be exact. That was the whole campaign plan! Okay, I knew enough from my old days running a car dealership to do some billboard advertising, but knocking on doors and talking to people face to face would carry the real load. I met some pretty memorable people behind those doors. Here are a few:
A man named Robert was the first person to open his door and find me standing there. To my great encouragement, he wished me well, and when I saw him during the 8th of August parade, I just had to leave the parade line so I could run up to his porch and thank him for his support.
In the River Oaks neighborhood, a lady asked me if I was a Republican or a Democrat. I thought, “Huh? It’s a non-partisan race we’re running here,” but said that I was a Democrat. She said that Democrats were “ruining the country.” I told her that I wasn’t after the country… I was just trying to get elected to the city commission! In all fairness, she did later apologize for giving me a rough time, and after we talked at length, she said she’d support me.
One afternoon in the neighborhood by Morgan Elementary, I was invited in for hot tea and conversation by a delightful woman who raised cockatiels and happened to be from upstate New York.
Another day, at my first stop on an afternoon of campaigning, I was asked if I was a Socialist. I was a bit taken aback—actually, I was floored. Once I collected myself, I managed to say though I believed that, in the words of Lincoln, “government can do for us what the individual cannot” I certainly wasn’t a Socialist.
Later that same day, I had just finished planting a sign in a man’s yard when he said, “Wait, one more question first.” When I answered, he told me to take my sign back. My crime? I had told him that I’d be voting for Mr. Obama. He said he’d support me… but apparently he didn’t want word getting around, so no yard sign.
In Littleville, I talked with a man and discovered that he had worked at my family’s car dealership years before and now runs a successful trucking company. With all the shared history, we had quite a visit.
I met a man mowing his lawn on Martin Luther King Drive, who asked me the now-familiar question, “Are you a Republican or a Democrat?” “Again?” I thought. When I answered that I was a Democrat, he said, “Great! I’ll vote for you!” Whew!
One particularly hot September afternoon as I walked up a driveway, a lady with a beer in hand said, “Nobody running for anything has ever come around this neighborhood before. My question is-- what do you plan to do for poor people?” “I guess I haven’t thought about it quite like that,” I said, “but I’m here in your neighborhood, aren’t I?” She nodded, satisfied with my answer.
Each day as I headed out to a different neighborhood, I dreaded the thought of approaching all those doors. Funny thing was, as much as I hated interrupting so many people’s afternoons to ask for their support, I loved sharing stories of who I had met that day with my wife Johanna during dinner even more. (And she loves this blog idea I have, because now her ears can get a break!)
I’ll try to stick to current events in my next post, but a little lighthearted history makes for a pretty good start.
Over and out,