Coming down the home stretch and I’m hobbled, sore and tired, but still running neck and neck.
by Charlie Leck
Portrait of a small town election
So the metaphors get mixed! There’s worse going on in my brain than that. It’s whirling, dimming occasionally and plenty confused.
We are, indeed, approaching the wire. Election Day here in this wonderful, little town is next Tuesday. Today the gloves drop and the sides really start going at each other. Typically our opponents in these elections start sending out all their smelly mailings about now, telling tales that aren’t true. Facts and accuracy have never been big with these guys. Their tactic is to frighten the voter into coming over to their side.
It comes down to lower taxes
Everyone wants lower taxes; yet everyone wants their services to either stay the same or, actually, improve a bit. The gravel roads should get graded more often, the pot holes ought to be fixed in the tarmac roads, and the traffic ought to be monitored and controlled better out on the Highways. People are driving way too fast past my house and why can’t a patrol car be more visible out here? When we’ve got a security problem, we want the police to show up in moments and not in a half-hour. Why aren’t ordinances enforced better? Couldn’t some no-parking signs be posted on my road?
So it comes down to a debate about taxes and services. Our opponents in this election are out promising dramatic cuts in our community taxes. To do this they are going to dramatically reduce spending by cutting back on services – even by abolishing our police department in favor of a County Sheriff who would roam around out here on occasion.
How do we make voters understand that such cuts in taxes also would impact the resale value of our homes and property? Values on real estate take into account the quality of the services in a given community.
How do you communicate issues in a small town?
We can’t go to the radio and television! It’s futile to run newspaper ads because you can’t say enough in them. We tried to hold an open house, to invite people to come have coffee and talk about the issues with our candidates. It never works. John Smith gets home from work and he’s tired and the kids have got math homework on which they would like some help. There’s a Major League playoff baseball game on TV and mother’s going off to a Tupper Ware party.
So, you stuff mail boxes with letters and cards and brochures and fliers and hope people read your material. My fingers hurt from sticking postage stamps on envelopes and peeling labels off of sheets to transfer them to letters and postcards.
It’s about all one can do.
Courtesy, consideration and dialogue with community leaders
From our point of view this election is all about behavior and communications. We believe that a resident ought to be able to appear before a town commission or the City Council and be heard out in a polite and receptive manner. These guys who want to sit on the council are angry, brash and basically impolite. They’d rather ridicule those with whom they disagree. They laugh at and scorn people who take sides that oppose them on an issue before the Council. We don’t think town councilpersons ought to be gruff and rude. These guys are known for their boorish snicker. One of them has a hard time putting a sentence together and most of his sentences contain an obscenity or two. The other guy has violated one city ordinance after another and dared the community to try to enforce its laws. Both of them are libertarians who believe they as individuals are more important than we as a community. I don’t go out on a limb to say these things. My comments are backed with an incredible amount of their past behavior in the community. (I wrote about the behavior of one of these guys in my blog a couple of days ago.)
Then you sit back and hope you don’t let your community down
This is the most important election in which I’ve ever voted in this small town. I’ve been involved in politics out here for 30 years and I’ve never seen such unqualified candidates as those whom we are now opposing. We’ve had a lot of good people out working on this campaign and we can only hope their hard work pays off. Otherwise, the character of our community is going to change an awful lot and the inmates are going to be running the asylum.