What with the election tomorrow and this being an odd numbered year and all, many of you may be paying more attention to local races. That’s certainly the case where I live at least. With that in mind I wanted to share a brief experience from over the weekend. Yesterday afternoon I was working in the den when I heard a knocking at my door. Being the only one home at the moment I got up and went to answer it. There was a young man in a shirt and tie standing there.
I was expecting a sales pitch and was about to point to the “No Solicitors” sign on my door when he suddenly introduced himself by name and announced that he was a candidate for County Clerk. I really don’t get all that involved in local politics these days (believe it or not) but I realized that I didn’t even know who was running for most of the offices this year and the election was only two days away. That made me feel a bit guilty, so I decided to give him a chance.
I said hello, accepted a firm handshake and opened with the only comment that ever comes to my mind when meeting a new politician. “So why do you want to be the county clerk?”
The guy almost seemed relieved to get the question. (I’m guessing he’d had a lot of doors slammed in his face. I’ve worked my share of campaigns. It happens.) He immediately launched into his pitch which boiled down to the fact that he was essentially a single issue candidate. The county’s records were still almost all on paper, crammed into filing cabinets and folders, frequently mislabeled or simply lost and generally a huge, hot mess. He had a plan to have them all scanned and digitized, transfer all recordkeeping to digital form in the future and make all the records searchable and available to the public.
Kind of a niche topic, but I couldn’t really get upset about it. I asked him how much he thought this would cost and how he planned to pay for it. He had an estimate ready to be spent over three years and provided me with a list of grants he said he would apply for if elected which were specific to just these sorts of conversion jobs. I had to admit that he seemed to have done his homework. I thanked him, took his campaign brochure and he left.
By the time my wife got home I gave her the brochure, mentioned the visit and commented on how impressed I was that he was getting out there, all alone, going door to door and shaking hands, preaching his campaign message to anyone who would listen. It was very old school. He turned out to be the Democratic candidate, but I’ve been known to vote for a Democrat or two on the local level where the partisan divide isn’t so severe. The point is, I was reminded of the importance of retail politics and the value of meeting the people you want to impress face to face. There’s real currency at this level in a handshake and a brief conversation. It was truly refreshing.
Of course, later I started Googling and found out he’d been arrested for larceny and a few other things so I probably won’t vote for him anyway. But still… it was a nice object lesson.