Anatomy of an (authentic) American political campaign

Follow the 96-day evolution of a grass roots political campaign as an All-American rural community fights back against the political manipulation of their town board's election.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The Day After

I awoke in much better spirits than when I fell asleep, for two main reasons. The first being that when I opened my eyes, my husband picked up right where he left off the night before, telling me that he was proud of me for running and that I did a good job. The second reason for my improved attitude related to a noon meeting that I'd scheduled several weeks earlier, and which I never imagined would hold such significance

To set the stage, last year I represented my Legislator at a meeting of community leaders who were attempting to entice the Niagara Frontier Transit Authority (NFTA) to establish a bus route on the main road connecting Hamburg with Eden, North Collins, Lawtons, Collins and Gowanda. After quite a few meetings and many hours spent by this devoted volunteer crew, the NFTA basically left the project hanging, leaving those who had given so much discouraged and disengaged.

I understood their frustration, but I also knew from my legislative work that this time of year can offer a window of opportunity for federal funds needed to launch this transportation project. So about a month ago I called our Congressman for help in the matter. I ended up working with his professional and most capable Western New York Chief of Staff and she agreed to champion our bus route cause with the NFTA.

So the day after losing the election for the Eden Town Board, I spent part of my day helping to resurrect the NFTA South Towns bus route, which when it happens will directly and positively impact residents of not only my town, but of the surrounding towns in my broader community.

On my way home from the successful meeting, I came to the conclusion that I had come full circle in my 95 day campaign. Although I didn'y obtain the title of Town Councilperson behind my name, I was still out in the community, striving to help make a difference.

Although I lost, I am glad that I ran. I'm even more pleased that I ran according to my own ideals and standards. Throughout the campaign, people within my own group and throughout the town tried to convince me to ask the Republican Party for their nomination. When I refused based on my cause of voter's choice many people told me that I was idealistic and unrealistic. While my loss may confirm their assessment, I believe that the outcome in no way indicates the importance of holding onto one's values and/or staying true to personal ethics.

I made a public statement that giving voters a choice was my ultimate goal. Had I short circuited the process by pandering the to the Republicans when their incumbent moved onto the State Supreme Court race, I would have dishonored my word and my character. In my mind, that trade just never came close to a reasonable or justifable compromise.

So all in all I have no regrets. I loved meeting the people with whom I share this town. I enjoyed discussing Eden's issues and problems with them. I particularly took pleasure in acting as an annoying burr to the political party bossess who so blatantly disregarded the voter's rights of the citizens in this town.

But most of all, I hope that my willingness to give of my time, effort and energy to make the election process a legal one will encourage people in Eden and across Western New York to make more of an effort to vote and to get involved.

If I have made that difference, then it was all worthwhile.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Final Hours

I returned to the polling place where I have always voted to finish up my election day handout blitz. As with all the other locations, I was once again hassled by an elections commissioner who bluntly stated that they didn't want me there. When I tried to politely explain that I was well within my legal rights to be onsite handing out election literature 100 feet away from the polling entrance, she replied that she didn't understand why I was there as no one else was doing the same. Again politely, I responded that just because I was the only one, didn't make it illegal.

At that point, I realized that debating with the woman was fruitless. So I asked exactly where she would like me to stand, thinking that perhaps I could mollify her by moving to a location of her choosing. Her classic response was, and I quote, "In the street." I laughed out loud at her answer and told her that while I would be happy to try and accomodate her, I thought I would probably get hit by a car should I stand in the street. Therefore I was not willing to move there.

My slightly sarcasic reply sent the woman storming off with an over-the-shoulder threat that she was going to call the Board of Elections. This time I chuckled and told her to go ahead as she would find out that I was fully within my rights to be there.

I bet that the Board of Elections hated my by the end of the day, what with all the complaints that they received from the Town of Eden!!

As the sun set and the night air began to chill, I became tired and longed for the end of the campaign trail.

I began this day with high hopes and a true sense of excitement over the fact that I thought I had a good chance to win 1 of the 2 Town Board Seats. However as the day passed and the dark and cold started to seep into my weary bones, I really didn't care anymore. I just wanted to go home and eat some good food and drink something warm.

Then with about an hour and a half left to go, my daughter and grandson showed up at the polling place with flowers and inspiring attitudes. Together we began approaching people and talking about the election. I must admit that never in the two months of this campaign was I more proud of what I was doing and why I was doing it then when they joined me.

They stayed almost until the final minutes when I sent them home with a promise to follow soon. I then talked to a few more voters and called it a night. I passed through the Town Hall parking lot and checked in with my ever-loyal friends staffing that polling place and rounded them up to come home with me. It was time, and there was really nothing left for us to accomplish. We had done the best that we could do and the only thing left was to wait for the results.

A wonderful group of supportive friends and family awaited me at home, along with delicious food from The Poppyseed Restaurant. The Poppyseed is owned by 4 women who I wrote about in my recently published book. They wanted to throw a fundraiser for me. When I declined the fundraiser, they then volunteered to supply the food for my election night gathering. As always, with their gourmet creations, the food was perfect in all ways!

We waited out the election results with laughter and stories and a beer or too. Finally around 10 pm, two of my election crew returned from the Town Hall with the voter tally and I found out that I lost.

The news was initially shocking, especially after listening to so many people tell me that they were going to vote for me. All along I had publicly stated that I didn’t join the race to win, but rather to provide voters with a choice. But human nature being what it is, by election eve I was filled with positive thoughts and ideas on ways that I could contribute once elected. So, to hear the words that I didn’t win anything pretty much knocked me for a loop.

I can’t say that I really remember exactly what happened in the minutes following news of my defeat. I know that many people looked over the results and praised my 748-vote effort. They said that with only 1 line located in an impossibly low position, I did amazingly well. Considering that the other 2 candidates received only twice my number of votes with 3 and 4 lines apiece, I guess their assessment was valid. At the moment however, it only felt like empty praise.

I do remember that my daughter came over to hug me and whispered in my ear that I needed to go around the room and thank everyone. Being an obedient candidate, I proceeded to work my way around the kitchen, hugging people and thanking them for their support. It was a very tough thing to do as what I really wanted to do was hole up in a warm quiet space and reflect on the experience.

At about the same time, the phone began ringing with calls from out of town family and friends. So I removed myself from the center of activity to report the results to the next round of supporters. When I finally returned to the kitchen, people were ready to head home and so we bid good-bye.

I finished the night slumped on a stool by the kitchen sink while my husband and 4 of my best friends and my daughter cleaned up the remants of our celebration. Intermittently we engaged in conversation about the election and they valiantly tried to buoy my spirits. But by virtue of the fact that I was at the end of a 17 hour day and a six week campaign stint, there was little they could do to energize my flagging spirits or my exhausted body.

Finally, around 11pm my husband and I crawled into bed and as I drifted off to sleep, he held me and told me how proud he was of me and what a great thing I had done by sticking to my ideals.

No election victory could ever have given me the feeling of inner peace and accomplishment that his words provided at that moment---and so I slept.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Day Ninety Five

Finally. Election Day is here.

My husband and I were up and out by 5 am. With our neighbor, putting up our polling place signs. Then we all went to vote. At 6:10 am we were the 4th, 5th and 6th voters. Hopefully a good indication that people are going to get out and vote.

I headed over to the Town Hall polling place after voting where I took for the first 2-hour shift. My car wouldn’t start again, so I was forced to stand outside in the cold and dark waiting for people to come close enough to the 100 ft. polling place boundary that I cannot cross, in order to hand them a palm card that emphasizes Row G.

My line is really low on the ballot. I had trouble finding it and I knew where to look. Hopefully our polling place push of Row G for Good Government sticks with voters.

Around 8am, one of the election inspectors came out and challenged my right to be there, handing out materials. Fortunately, I had checked with the Board of Elections and double-checked with the Town Clerk that I could be onsite with my literature. Then this morning I took a 100-foot tape measure to each polling place and marked off the area where I could legally stand. The woman was clearly annoyed that I knew my rights and turned around and complained to the Chief of Police. He knew I was right and told her there was nothing he could do.

At 8am, I moved on to the School polling place and at 11 to the East Eden Fire Hall polling place. At both locations, the election commissioners again questioned my presence, and again I stood my ground.

I took a short break and went home for lunch and to get warm around 1pm. It was then that I discovered my first official campaign related hate e-mail. It came from a constituent in East Eden and it was really quite disturbing. I read it over several times and then crafted a reply. While I know it’s usually best not to engage such people, I just couldn’t finish out the day standing for hours on end at the polling places to try and win an election for the sake of voter’s rights, without speaking my piece.

We’ll see if the person has the nerve to respond. Either way, I don’t care. I know I’ve done a good job and I’m truly excited to see what happens tonight.

On a positive note, I spoke to Kevin Hardwick, a local political analyst and he congratulated me on my campaign. He said he would be following it and talking about it on the radio tonight in his post election coverage. I also received an official endorsement today from the Buffalo Pundit, a Buffalo Blogger.

Now we’ll see if the voters agree with them or with my new e-mail buddy…….

Day Ninety Four

The last day of the campaign and by morning’s first light I was so ready for all of the hoopla to end.

However after a few Advil and some medicinal chocolate, I began to rally. By mid afternoon I had my volunteer troops organized for handing out leaflets at the polling places and my signs pretty well in order.

My plan for the polling places somehow worked out perfectly. Of the 2 districts that I did not manage to get to in my door to door, both vote at the Town Hall. So I have stationed my volunteers there from 6am to 8pm. I will then float among the other 3 polling places throughout the day. Seems like a perfect plan.

This afternoon I called a former co-worker who was the mastermind behind many of the legislative campaigns when I worked downtown. I ran my Election Day plan by him, just to be sure that I wasn’t missing any details. He suggested that I chose the polling place of the districts that I believe are strongest in my favor and be there between the prime hours of 4 7 p.m. Aside from that he thought I was good to go.

I finished up the night with the help of my ever supportive husband and my campaign finance manager making oversized signs of the ballot with a large red arrow pointing to my name, which is at the very bottom. While they are not perfect, they are eye catching and I think they will help remind people to look all the way down to row G (Vote Row G for Good Government.)

There were two phone calls tonight that made my day. The first was from my son in Charlotte, North Carolina. I had IM’d him earlier in the day that a local well known radio talk show host was asking people to call in and give a last minute plug for their candidate of choice. Unbeknownst to me, my son called in and talked about how much he respected me and thought I was an excellent candidate, who was running for all the right reasons. Considering that my son didn’t want me to run in the first place, I was very touched that he would take the time to do such a thing.

The second phone call from my Democratic opponent. In a very classy move, she called to wish me good luck. We chatted for about 10 minutes, sharing our agreed views on the need for voters to have a choice at the polls. We also shared a few campaign war stories.

I was so impressed that she picked up the phone to wish me lucked. And of course, I wished her the same. We were both genuine in our expressions and the whole exchange gave me great hope that it is possible to run a political campaign based on the issues, for the good of the community.

Hey, so what if it’s only the Town Council Race in the rural community of Eden. We’ve got start somewhere.

Day Ninety Three

So much for planning.

I had just completed my 7th sheet of door to door voter names when suddenly the wind whipped up and the rain began pelting, both of which ultimately dissolved my resolve and soaked my wool jacket. As a result, my 4 hours of door to door was short-circuited into 90-minutes.

In an attempt to salvage some of the day, I traveled to the local craft store and picked up four oversized pieces of foam board and some red and black markers to make polling place signs. I also picked up some red, white, and blue paper goods for the election night party.

On my way home I stopped at a wake for the father of a friend. He died suddenly on Thursday from a heart attack and while my friend appeared outwardly strong and functional, it seemed clear to me that she was on an overdrive automatic pilot. It was a tough stop and the melancholy effects lingered for most of the day.

I’m tired. My back aches. My feet hurt. I’m done. No more campaigning for me.

Day Ninety Two

Another full day of business commitments. Another day without door to door.

I feel as if the campaign is slipping away from me. Yet clearly I have done all that is physically possible, and continue to do so within the real world realm of making money and paying bills. I suspect my angst is mostly about my deep-seated Irish sense of guilt, which I believe is inborn in all Emerald Isle Descendants!

In my business dealings today I stopped in spots both downtown and north of the city. Once again I was recognized for the campaign. Some of the people were from Eden, while others were random citizens who read the blog column in the Buffalo News. Talk about the power of the pen!

Tomorrow I am definitely setting aside 4 hours for door to door with a final 4-hour push on Monday. That should help me to complete the 5th district, which will be a decent accomplishment. After that, it’s all about voting.

Day Ninety One

Real life kept me off the door to door campaign trail today. No time for anything but housework, and errand running during the day and a career related stint at the Albright Knox at night.

Quite a few people at the Knox connected me with the campaign. Seems the blog is making inroads in a lot more places than just Eden. To me it was just one more example of how effective this form of media outreach can be.

I still wish that Kevin Helfer’s campaign team had taken me up on my offer to organize a blog site for him. Maybe it would have helped his odds.

It definitely couldn’t have hurt…

Friday, November 04, 2005

Day Ninety

Once again my car quit running so I wasn't able to get to any door to door. It was frustrating, but I can't do anything about it---other than buy a new car!

I did accomplish some elections related tasks today. I put the finishing touches on my last Pennysaver ad and worked on organizing my election day volunteers. I am only about halfway to the number of people that I need to help me. I don't know if I'll make it or not, so over the weekend I'm going to prepare plan B, just in case.

People are really starting to get interested in the race. A lot of talk about it throughout town. My husband and I talked about it and we both agree that we think it's going to be close, whoever wins.

Still deciding on whether to go to Town Hall after the polls close to get the vote count in person.

Day Eighty Nine

The rainy weather finally relented and so I got back on track with door to door campaiging. I've moved into my 5th district out of 7. I don't think I'll make much more. There's just so much to do and with early darkness, so little time.

I stayed out well past dark tonight. The night was relatively warm and I hated to bypass the good weather. People didn't seem to mind that I was ringing their doorbell after dark. The biggest problem is that I can't see house numbers and tree roots sticking up through walkways. I'm going to start carrying a flashlight from now on.

The political rhetoric is heating up across the county in the campaigns. Even some of the small town raaces for Supervisor and Tonw Council are taking some nasty turns. Here is Eden though, it seems fairly peaceful. I think all of us running for Town Board have made a concerted effort to run on our own merits rather than against anyone's record or platform. I like it that way. It feels like a much more above board process.

I had a lady engage me tonight about the lack of services in Eden. She wants better stores like Tim Hortons and a Martin's Super Market similiar to the one that just opened in nearby Derby. Said she was tired of always having to drive to Hamburg for the things she needs but that she knew things would never change as long as the issues are decided behind close doors and out of control of the people in the town.

At first I took issue with her statement, but as we talked I realized that some of her points were valid. It would be nice to have a full scale gourmet super market and a few more donwtonw businesses that would improve the quality of life here. The problem is that most merchants want a larger population base and a better traffic pattern than Eden offers.

As for the behind closed doors issue, when I asked what she meant she brought up a study that was published three or four years ago by the Town and the Chamber about new businesses in town. She was annoyed by the report in that it hyped an improved business climate in Eden based on the number of new businesses that had opened. Her point was that quite a few of the businesses listed in that report were already in place or simply expanded, and therefore weren't truly new.

I clearly remember that report, as it came out during my term as President of the chamber. Although there was an increase in new businesses during that time, a good percentage of the report was indeed smoke and mirrors. I thought so then and I stated so on many occassions to those in charge. At the time, no one really listened and they continued to hype what everyone knew to be an inflated report, obvioulsy believing that it didn't matter, no one would notice or know.

That's often the problem with people who get involved with government projects. They don't realize the damage they are doing by not telling the total truth. People aren't stupid and shading the truth only makes them angry and consequently suspicious in the future.

That lady gave me a lot to think about tonight.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Day Eighty Eight

The Home Stretch.

One week from today it will all be over but the crying---or the cheering, depending on the vote.

Once again the weather kept me from door to door. It's frustrating but there's not much I can (or want) do when it's pouring rain.

The other equally frustrating part of my campaign these days is the question of the hour that everyone seems to need to ask me. "What do you think, are you going to win?"

I am patient with those who repeat the endless query and explain to them that while many people tell me they are going to vote for me, what they say and what they do behind the election booth curtain can be entirely different.

To be truthful, I have no idea how my campaign is going. I know that people have been supportive of my candidacy and very friendly in discussing the election, but the reality is that none of those indicators really provide any clue as to the outcome of a political race such as this one.

What it all boils down to is the same refrain I've been touting since day one of this Voter's Choice Campaign. I threw my hat into the proverbial ring for the simple purpose of giving voters in the Town of Eden a choice when they go to the polls on election day. Clearly, I have accomplished my objective and so whatever the outcome, I believe that my candidacy has already been a success.

I did receive a very interesting email today from someone who read about my blog in yesterday's News. The gentleman listed his concerns about life in Western New York including a poor economy, high taxes, expensive health care, and an overall political atmosphere counter productive to progress. The bottom line to the communication was his question of whether I was going to step forward and speak up against business as usual and try to improve these problems if elected to serve in Eden's Town Government.

I repsonded that I have always been someone to step forward and speak out whenever I felt it necessary, and I actually bet him a dinner at Katherine's (a great Eden Restuarant) that he could ask anyone who knows me and get the same response.

My life long trait of outspokeness has often put me in uncomfortable situations, but I do believe my willingness to openly discuss and face tough issues is one thing that people appreciate about me as a candidate. Ask me a question and I'll give you an answer, if I can. I also never pretend to know all the answers, but I'm willing to dig to find them.

I didn't receive a response to my response, so I have no idea if I earned his vote or not. Equally as important, I don't know if he's going to take me up on my bet---it's a sure thing---and I love going to Katherine's!

Monday, October 31, 2005

Day Eighty Seven

Daylight Savings time threw me a curveball tonight. While I can usually eek out door to door time until 7pm, tonight it was dark by 6:15pm. Talk about putting a crimp in my plans. By the time I took care of some errands after work, I was out of luck for any campaigning tonight. Obviously, I’m going to have get started as soon as I leave work in order to complete at least one more election district.

The bonus today was a newspaper article written by Greg Connors, of the Buffalo News about this blog. Greg and I spoke last week and had a great chat about the impact that a blog can have on an election. Little did I imagine that our conversation would end up being a front page column in the News.

Got lots of nice feedback about the article and hopefully it will drive readers to the blog to see what it’s all about. The bottom line in Eden though is meeting people at their door is going to make more of an impact than any online blog.

Back to door to door tomorrow for sure.

Day Eighty Six

Today day was sunny and warm. Picture perfect for door to door. I, however, was not. After 5 hours of walking yesterday, my back decided to let me know that I needed the day off. And so I took it---sort of.

I spent the 3 hours I had targeted for campaigning cleaning my house and putting away outdoor furniture and garden decorations. So while restful it was not, the time was definitely well spent. My home and my family have all taken a back seat since I began walking door to door. No one is complaining, but I must admit it felt good to put my house in order.

The Democrats held a cocktail party last night. I didn’t hear anything about it, so I have no idea if it was well attended. It’s interesting the number of people in this town who still focus on party affiliation and support candidates solely on their endorsements. There is however a growing group of voters looking for new blood---candidates who will bring a fresh perspective to government, regardless of what party they represent.

However, as I continue to tell those who ask me how the campaign is going, you never know until the polls close what people are really going to do once they get behind that curtain.

On the positive side, I received a phone call over the weekend from a young man who lives in a neighboring town. I was his gym teacher in grade school (talk about depressing!) He is now a well-respected businessman in the community and very active politically. He left a voice mail saying that he read about my campaign and wants to make a contribution---said he believes in me.

Apparently all those sit-ups and toe touches I required in my phys Ed classes are finally paying off!

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Day Eighty Five

A beautiful sunny day with reasonably warm temperatures. So I started mid afternoon with the intent to go until dark. After about four and a half hours though, I was pooped and decided to call it quits a little early.

Still, I managed to finish up my 4th district and begin the 5th. If I can get out everyday this next week, I will definitely get 6 of 7 districts completed. I just don’t think I’ll make that 7th. Between work and my slowly diminishing energy level, I think by next week’s end, I’ll be done.

The local daily newspaper today published their update on the Eden Town Council race. It was a good article, especially considering that my candidacy got the headline and the lead. The story was slightly buried on the 5th page of the section, but based on the reaction I got from people who called and e-mailed, it really didn’t matter. It was seen and read.

Tomorrow is supposed to be warm and sunny so I plan on putting in some door to door time in the early afternoon. Then I’m going to enjoy a Halloween party with my family and friends.

Ten days to go…..

Day Eighty Four

The end of a long week of door to door.

I started early today in order to finish early so my husband and I could actually enjoy dinner together. Lately there are days when getting out there is tough. But once I get started I really enjoy meeting the people in this town, even when they don’t support my candidacy.

For example, last night, at my second last house of the night, I met a man who greeted me with the blunt pronouncement, “I know who you are and I’m not voting for you.” That intro basically left me with no place to go, so I simply thanked him for his time and began walking away.

I didn’t get more than a few steps down the driveway before he asked if I wanted to know why. My willingness to engage in further conversation led to a 20 minute dialogue between us that included his judgement of me as, "lacking in character."

As I eventually discovered, his anger with me was due to the fact that I have continued to work as the Senior Assistant to a County Legislator, who he feels during the budget crisis has failed her constituents. We went back and forth on the subject and by the time we were done, he good naturedly stated that he might now consider voting for me.

Then tonight as I finally got home and was walking in the door, the phone was ringing. It was a woman from my door to door route who was not home when I knocked and so I left her a "Sorry I missed you" card. She was calling to tell me that she was also sorry we missed each other and that I have her vote. Further, she told me that she was going to tell everyone she knows to vote for me.

On a Friday night after a long, cold and damp week of going door to door, that phone call was a very nice way to start off the weekend.

Day Eighty Three

The local newspaper published a story on the Eden Town Board Election today. It was a well-balanced and fair article that gave each of us our due.

I must admit I’m disappointed that the paper is not endorsing anyone in this race. Since I worked previously for the pub as an op-ed columnist, the editorial department agreed that they would only report on the race and not endorse. While I understand their worry over appearing fair and honest, I really can’t imagine that readers would have a problem with their assessment of a candidate who hasn’t written for them in almost 3 months.

Then again, perhaps I should take heed of that old saying, “Be careful what you wish for….” and be satisfied with the fair newspaper article.

There has been an increase in door to door activity by other town candidates since I’ve been out pounding the pavement. The Democrats are also offering a by-ticket-only, $15/person meet the candidate party on Saturday, following my free cider and doughnuts get together. I’m glad to see all the increased activity, as it serves the voters of Eden well.

I do wish there had been an all encompassing Meet the Candidates Night including every candidate running for local office. Apparently the Chamber of Commerce has sponsored such an event in years past. I don’t recall that type of gathering from my time served on the Chamber Board, but I did suggest to a current board member that they renew the tradition. Apparently, they didn’t agree, or perhaps just didn’t have the time to get it organized.

I will be interested to see how many voters show up at the Democrat Meet and Greet. Since only 10 people showed up at my free cider and doughnuts gathering, I wonder how many will be willing to pay money for the same? Since it’s party organized, I would expect a better turnout. The question will be, how many attending are politically affiliated and expected to show up, as opposed to citizens freely giving of their time and money.

And why are they charging money for a chance to spend time with candidates? That seems pretty cheesy to me. If they need a fundraiser, they should call it a fundraiser, not a chance to meet Democratic candidates.

Where oh where is the Women League of Voters when you need them?

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Day Eighty Two

I’m thinking of retitling this blog, “Animal Kingdom.”

Last week during my door to door rounds a rooster attacked me. This week---a goat.

As I got out of my car to greet the homeowner, I noticed that the goat was coming up from a pasture on a beeline directly towards me. With last week’s rank rooster still fresh in my mind, I quickly questioned the resident if her goat might have mal intent. She assured me he was harmless.

Which he was--- as long as she was nearby.

As soon as she went in the house, the goat became combative. Fortunately, I trusted my intuition about this Billy Goat Gruff more than his owner’s advice and whipped myself into the car before he could do me any harm. Unable to attack me, the goat did the next best thing---he attacked my car, jumping up on the hood.

After a few seconds of pawing the hood, the goat got bored, jumped down and came around to my driver’s side door. As I slowly began to back up and make my way out of the driveway, the goat followed me every inch of the way, keeping his head plastered onto my window. Finally, he became bored pursuing me and gave up and walked away.

I swear I’m not making this stuff up. It’s just the bonus of campaigning in a rural/agricultural based town.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Day Eighty One

Another day of rain again kept me out of the door to door loop.

I did however get my final two weeks of ads set-up and confirmed my position on the ballot with the Board of Elections. I also started lining up volunteers for election day. So far I have 9 of the 25 people that I need to cover the polling places. So an e-mail blast will soon be on it’s way to family and friends who have offered their help.

I was interviewed today by a reporter for the daily newspaper about my political blog. It was an interesting conversation about the power of blogging and whether I have found this blog to be effective in my campaign.

My take on the subject is that blogs are invaluable to political candidates because they provide an uncensored public forum through which their ideas and opinions can be shared with voters. The catch is getting people to take up the habit of logging on and reading, which to my surprise, quite a few people in Eden are doing. What’s even more interesting is that I’m also picking up readers around Erie County.

From the start, I felt that anyone curious about the political process in general would enjoy this daily diary, whether they live in Eden, New York or San Francisco, California. The scenarios, the conflicts, the ups, the downs, are all about the human experience and in that respect this blog has a wide ranging appeal. But will it help get me elected?

Two weeks from today, I’ll know.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Day Eighty

Rain, rain, rain, from morning through night.

So my door to door routine today morphed into attending a meeting of a town foundation group that helps to fund community needs.

Their latest grant helped to finance regal velvet curtains for the middle school stage/auditorium. In thanks, students from the school performed improvisational routines for the citizens gathered, followed by a slide presentation of the foundation’s projects to date. Delicious cookies and cider refreshments topped off the event.

I was invited to attend by a friend who felt it would be a good place for me to meet and greet. It was a thoughtful gesture on his part but as it turned out, I already knew most everyone who was present. So I spent the evening visiting with friends and eating cookies. Sure beat going door to door in the wind and rain!

The highlight of the night happened on my way out the door. I noticed the endorsed Democrat and Republican Candidates for Town Board huddled in a conference. Never one to let an opportunity pass, I walked up to them and asked if we could hold a political caucus right there in the middle of the school hallway. Both looked at me with startled stares, at which point I laughed and said that I imagined the whole room was abuzz over the fact that we were actually talking to one another!

We chatted nicely for a minute about the election ballot and then my Republican Candidate friend and I headed for home.

The thing about small town politics is that it can just be so much fun.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Day Seventy Nine

No campaign, no door to door, no politics.

Just a peaceful Sunday with my husband.

Looking toward the final two weeks of the campaign, I hope to finish up my door to door and then enjoy election night with family and friends. The owners of The Poppyseed Restaurant wanted to provide food for one of my fundraisers. But since I really didn’t have the need for a lot of money, they are going to feed my campaign crew on election night instead.

As I understand it, the candidates traditionally go down to the Town Hall around 9 p.m. for the counting of the votes and the declaration of the winners. I suppose I should honor the tradition, but truthfully I would rather stay home and hear the news in the midst of those who have supported me for the last three months.

Win or lose, I'm ready for the campaign to be over.

16 days and counting….

Day Seventy Eight

At 8 am I loaded 200 apple fritters and 24 gallons of fresh pressed apple cider into my car and headed to the Asa Warren House for the free cider and doughnuts party that I’d advertised in the Pennysaver for the last two weeks.

At noon, I packed up 180 apple fritters and 23 gallons of fresh pressed apple cider into my car as only 10 people showed up.

While the number of voters who attended was discouraging, the conversation I enjoyed with those 10 voters was intelligent and enlightening. It was also instrumental to my election day plans as almost all 10 signed up to help hand out flyers.

The conversation during the morning centered around two main topics: the building inspector and the budget. My recent meeting with the building inspector aided my conversation concerning his often-controversial role. It also jogged my memory that he promised to provide me with some statistical information that I have yet to receive. I need to follow up on that next week.

As for the budget, most people are more frustrated with the school budget than the town and that’s a matter of their own control, not the town board.

When I got home there was a letter in the mail from the Board of Elections containing a sample absentee ballot. What it showed is that my party is one extra line below the four major parties, with the Party in between. So I am on Line G, which I have already translated into, “G for Good Government.” The good news is that I am the only one on the line, so it’s very easy to find me.

Now it’s just a question of if voters want to find me.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Day Seventy Seven

Today I met with a representative from Congressman Brian Higgins’ Office. Our purpose was to discuss the possibility of federal funding for a bus route to connect Eden and towns south to a hub service in Hamburg. From there riders could continue to a number of points, including Buffalo.

This bus route has been in the planning and talking stages for 4 years. A determined man from a neighboring town initially began the process and last year I came onboard through my role as a Senior Legislative Assistant.

I know it’s an important issue in this town as well as in surrounding communities. I also know from past work on federal grants, this is the time to start working on funding requests and proposals. So I presented the excellent groundwork that has been done on this project to the Congressman’s representative with the hope that we can get his support. I think if he approves, then the bus route can become a reality at some point.

Later in the day, a reporter from the daily newspaper called me to ask about the campaign. Overall it was a good interview. This is the third time he has contacted me about the race and each time he asks about my desire to win and more specifically about running against the other candidates. Each time I reply that it’s not about winning the race or about running against someone else. It’s about giving voters a choice and doing what I can to help the town.

My answers never seem to really register with the reporter. I think he finds me far from the norm and, as a result, has a hard time comprehending and/or believing me.

He should talk to my ex-husband. They would have a lot in common!

I finished up my door-to-door with a stop at the local supermarket. There I picked up 16 dozen apple fritter donuts baked by a wonderful woman, who I would guess to be in her late 50’s or early 60’s.

When I first went into the store to ask if they could make that many donuts at once, this woman’s co-worker, who is responsible for the weekend baking, immediately stated that there was no way he could produce that number on his shift. However, this very determined woman wanted to fill the order, and so she agreed to work late and bake all the donuts by herself.

When I walked into the bakery at 7:30pm, she had four huge boxes of donuts glazed and ready to go. When I complimented her on her endurance, she said that it only took her three and a half-hours and that she thought that it was important for the only supermarket in town to supply my community wide gathering.

Then with a hardy laugh and a twinkle in her eye she said that the sale of the large order would increase the bakery’s sales to a higher number than the store’s deli section, and she wanted to “kick their butts!”

That’s what I mean about the people in this town. For the most part they are so great and they take such pride in anything relating to Eden---even proving that the town’s small supermarket bakery can ably fill a Tops or Wegman’s size order.

That’s why I’m running, and why ,if elected, I would be willing to give of my time and efforts to serve on the Town Board. It's all about the people.

Day Seventy Six

Considering my late start entering this campaign, I originally thought that I wouldn’t be able to cover more than two or three districts door-to-door. Yet what I am finding is that I am plowing through at a much faster rate than I expected. I have now completed 3 districts and I believe that I can wrap up 2 a week between now and Election Day and complete the entire town, every election district.

I really enjoy meeting the people of this town, talking to them about the issues and hearing their thoughts and concerns. I have no idea whether they are going to vote for me or not, but I do know that they genuinely appreciate the fact that I am giving of my personal time every night to knock on their doors and introduce myself---explain my campaign.

The most frustrating part of my door to door efforts is that darkness encroaches more on my time, every day. But after listening to long range weather forecasts, I think darkness will be the least of my problems as October wains and November approaches.

I finished making arrangements for my cider and donuts party today. My campaign finance manager created signs to put in front of the historical society and I stapled them to big sandwich type signboards. We’ll put them out Friday morning and hope they help to attract people.

The night ended with an after dark mission to straighten and re-stake my election signs throughout town. The winds and rain made some of them tilt and warp to the point that they were in pretty sad shape. It took about an hour to set them all straight, putting me home just after midnight.

Yep, glamour, fame, and fun….that’s what running for office is all about!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Day Seventy Five

Well it finally happened. While engaging in my nightly door to door campaign rounds I was personally attacked---viciously, directly and relentlessly…by a rooster!!

I knew the damn bird was going to be trouble from the moment I pulled in the driveway. I first noticed him lurking around the stairs to the front door with a couple of his girlhens. As I stepped out of the car he shot me a look that definitely pronounced that I needed to stay far away from his reach. So I circled to the offside of the stairway on the opposite side from “His Roosterness.”

Going up the stairs, I was fine. I stayed on my side and he stayed on his. Yet unbeknownst to me, while talking to the homeowner who answered my knock, my fine-feathered friend had stealthily moved halfway up the staircase. As I turned to begin my descent, I saw him plant his scaly claws firmly in the middle of the tread. Once again choosing glory over guts I circled far to the offside of the stairway, hoping against hope that my instinct about this bird was more paranoia than certainty.


The further I moved away, the closer this porky pullet came, until finally with one fast swoop he lifted off the ground and flew directly at me, his beak fully engaged for combat. Being a pseudo-farm girl, experienced with animals, I reacted in my personally tried and true manner.

“Go away!” I loudly screeched. “Leave me alone!” All the while swatting at the pain-in-the-butt bird with my door to door road map.

My calmly controlled reaction of course only served to further encourage the rooster’s wrath. Backing up for a new start, this rank rooster again morphed into attack mode, this time blowing his body up like a balloon and using the internally compressed air to launch his body toward me, further and higher.

Finally my screams for salvation were heard by the homeowner who threw open a window, hung over the sill, and yelled, “Oh, I’m so sorry. Just hit him and he’ll quit.” The woman’s booming directive caused the rooster to hesitate just long enough for me to get past him and into my car. As I locked the doors in cautionary protection, the homeowner come flying out of her house with a metal tennis racket in hand. Suddenly my vicious attack rooster turned into a big fat chicken as he took off like a bat out of hell to avoid her forehand swing.

You know when I started this campaign I was prepared for some tough constituent questions, a lot of political rhetoric and the occasional nasty dog. But never did I imagine that I would be chased out of yard by a rank rooster.

Kinda made me feel like a guest star in an I Love Lucy episode.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Day Seventy Four

Planning for the party!

This Saturday from 9am to noon I’m sponsoring a free cider and donuts get together in the town’s historical building known as the Asa Warren House. It’s a great old house located in the center of Eden and I’m hoping a lot of people attend.

I’ve advertised the event for the last two weeks in the Pennysaver and judging by the reaction I’m getting during door to door, people are definitely aware of the event. Knowing and doing are two different things however, and if it’s a rainy day, as predicted, I’m thinking that people might opt to stay home.

My idea behind the gathering is to offer the town a public opportunity to meet me and talk about my candidacy, the campaign, the town, basically any and all issues related to my run for office. Since I got such a late start and I know I will not be able to get to every election district personally, I thought that this town wide gathering might help me reach voters.

I also thought it might be nice to have a campaign-related social function that did not require people to donate to me, but rather where I donate to them. I don’t know if anyone will notice that fact, but again, it’s my way of trying to change the status quo of elections and politics.

Door to door went well today. I completed my second district, which gave me hope that I might get to as many as 5 of the 7 town districts by November 8th. The advancing early evening darkness is definitely cramping my style, so I take my jeans and work boots with me so I can start walking as soon as I finish work.

I finished the day at the Asa Warren House, checking the layout and planning where to serve the cider and doughnuts. The beauty of the autumnal night combined with the strong sense of history surrounding me at Asa Warren's House reminded me once again why I love living in Eden. It’s a great town in a great region and I feel truly honored to be running for office and for the chance to serve this community that I've come to know and love as my home.

Day Seventy Three

A morning filled with creating press releases and palm cards for other candidates who are also friends.

An afternoon walking door to door.

An evening at a fundraiser for the incumbent Erie County Sheriff.

Door to door went well---at least the people part. However, at one particular home, as I got out of the car my attention was captured by a full-sized, exotically colored parrot, sitting in a picture window. Since I was looking at the parrot and not at the concrete driveway on which I was walking I didn’t see that one section of the drive was substantially higher than the rest. As a result I lost my balance and took a hard, rolling tumble.

As I recovered and assessed that my body was still in one piece, my immediate thought was that someone was surely standing at the picture window next to the parrot, witnessing my embarrassing, uncoordinated fall to earth. The pain of that thought outstripped any pain I felt from the fall and so I immediately jumped up (kinda) as if nothing had happened. To my relief, not a person was in sight. Further, the parrot seemed pretty disinterested in my tumbling routine. So I put a, “Sorry I missed you” card in the door and limpingly moved on.

By the time I arrived at the fundraiser it was well underway. There was a good crowd in attendance and great food being served up by a woman who is well known in town for her tasty culinary skills. The Sheriff was welcoming to everyone as he worked the room from end to end. When he spoke he acknowledged that he was pleased to see those gathered, as many were personal family members and friends, along with political allies and law enforcement officers.

At one point I ran into a Democratic Party supporter who I once worked with during my time on the downtown Legislative staff. He is an intelligent and savvy young man who will make a great government official one day. Note that I did not use the word, “politician” because while this person is dead center in the world of politics, he somehow manages to maintain real ethics and ideals in his professional life.

Earlier in the fall he threw his hat into the legislative ring but within a few weeks, he withdrew. This was my first chance to talk with him about his change of heart. Basically he explained that it was just one of those political deals that had a crummy ending. But that was not as disturbing to him as the fact that no one involved in the race respected his real reason for wanting to run for legislative office. He thinks he could make a difference---make life better here in Erie County. And for that he was pretty much ridiculed and forced aside.

The good news is that he’s the epitome of the saying “you can’t keep a good man down” and he is already talking about running for higher office. I hope he does.

As the party wound down, a hale and hearty crew of Eden’s finest remained to the end, my husband included. I decided to leave so that I could stop by the Republican Town Council Candidate’s pizzeria. He also attended the fundraiser, but had to leave early to return to work.

We chit chatted about the fundraiser, his first. We also talked about the lack of clear and direct communication between he and the town Republican Party. It seems that they are using e-mail to contact him. However, he is not a creature who lives by the Internet. So party and candidate have not been connecting, as evidenced by the fact that he had no knowledge about tonight’s fundraiser until earlier in the day. And that info came in the form of a chastisement pointedly telling him that he needed to attend such functions as the endorsed Republican candidate.

No doubt, my friend’s political learning curve is a steep one, with little time to loose. But a good teacher can make a situation like this much more manageable then the town party bosses are doing.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Day Seventy Two

Day two of no door to door.

A friend chided me today for not having more signs up around town. Then my friend running as the endorsed Republican echoed those sentiments. So I guess I better finish painting the three signs in the garage and get them up.

The weather has turned to cool and rainy. No doubt the start of the pre-winter season. So I’m sure that door to door is going to become something of a chore in that it will be wet and cold as well as dark.

Tomorrow night, I am going to a fundraiser for the current Erie County Sheriff running for re-election. It will be the first political function I’ve attended this election season, other than my own. Should make for an interesting evening.

Day Seventy One

This weekend is filled with work obligations that will prohibit me from campaigning. The fact that I am out of the door to door loop for two days in a row is not very helpful to my candidacy. Yet the reality of life is that I can only stretch so many ways and so the campaign has to go to the back burner until Monday.

Election signs for the two other candidates are springing up all over town. My ten signs are easily outnumbered these days. I do have a couple in the garage that still needing paint. If I can find some time this week I will try to get them finished and put them up.

While it’s nice to see my signs around town, I just don’t think that they are what will decide this campaign. I think my door to door work is just as significant as any lawn signs. Although I won't know for sure until it’s over…and then it will be too late.

But win or loose, I can take satisfaction in knowing that I provided the citizens of Eden with a voting choice, which is why I got started in the first place.

Day Seventy

Today my friend (the Republican Town Council candidate) and I met with the Town Building Inspector. This person has been a lightning rod of controversy in Eden for a number of years and it seems to both my friend and I that there must be some reasonable solutions that could help the situation.

In the ten years I have lived in town, I’ve never really had much contact with the inspector. However I have heard a legion of stories about him, most of which decry his manner and his unwillingness to ever bend the rules, or even offer friendly advice.

As it turned out, our meeting was professional and informative, and in the course of our conversation I believe we reached some conclusions that could result in improved service to town residents. The next step will be collecting the data we need to prove our points and then wait to see which one, or both of us, will be elected so that we can get our plan rolling.

My door to door campaign was on the short side today due to work obligations and a malfunctioning car. Those factors, along with the encroaching darkness that continually cuts my time shorter every night, allowed me only about 90 minutes of campaigning. The time deficiency was compounded by the fact that a lot of people weren’t home and so I was unable to make that in-person contact that I believe helps my candidacy.

The good news is that the people I did talk to were supportive and claimed they would vote for me.

I wonder how their back door promises will translate in the voting booth come November?

Day Sixty Nine

Today started off with a bang.

First, I called the Board of Elections on an unrelated matter and found out that my petitions have been deemed valid. The person I spoke to seemed surprised that I had any doubts. Considering that I never received notice concerning my petitions other than an acknowledgement of receipt, I’m not sure how I was supposed to know this information. No matter, it was definitely good news.

The next surprise came in the form of an e-mail from the Republican Town Council person, running for New York State Supreme Court Judge rather than the Town Board. I saw him at the Town Board meeting the previous night, but we did not come in contact there. In fact we really haven’t seen each other since March. I did try to call him in September to verify if he was running for the state judgeship. At the time, he did not take my phone call and I wrote in this blog that it felt as if he was purposely avoiding me.

Well apparently he read my comment and as a result he wrote an e-mail to tell me that he did not know that I called his office until he read it in the blog. He also proposed a friendly get together to compare war stories relative to our campaigns---said I might be surprised about what has gone on.

I was glad to hear from him. In a small town like Eden, it’s pretty counter-productive to not get along with people. While he and I have never been friends, we have always had a healthy respect for one another and I would like to think that we’ll continue in that vein, no matter what the outcome of this election.

So as the day began, it also ended with a big finish. As I approached myfinal door to door house, I met a voter from my former Catholic Church. She was a sprightly lady of senior citizen age who was quick to tell me that she knew who I was and how she didn’t approve of how I mistreated the priest when I wrote my column.

I knew this conversation would eventually happen, but even so, I was caught somewhat off guard by her pointed criticism. While I did not want to argue with her, I did want to explain the reason for my actions and the story about the incident from my perspective.

To her credit, she was a willing listener and as I presented my case, I could see by her expression that she was somewhat appeased by my words. As we continued to talk, our topics expanded to include general conversation about the parish, the town and even our shared Irish heritage. By the time we were done, she was smiling, I was relieved, and we parted on much improved terms.

I have no idea if she will vote for me, but I do believe that she at least has a better opinion of me---which to this candidate is just as important.

Day Sixty Eight

My door to door campaign is pretty interesting these days as I am canvassing the voting district of the Democratic incumbent/endorsed candidate.

I’ve been unsure of what to expect from voters in this district for two reasons. The first obviously being the fact that many consider the area to be the realm of the incumbent. The other reason however is much more personal, and it relates to a newspaper column that I wrote two years ago about the pastor of the Catholic Church in the district.

At the time I was a parishioner of the Church. The column I wrote concerned an action taken by the pastor directly against my husband and me. I was blunt and openly critical in my essay and as a result, I caused a public stir that lasted for almost two months. After writing the column, I never returned to the Church and so as I approach each house in this district I wonder if I might be in for a long awaited tongue lashing on the subject.

So far, all has gone smoothly. As in the other districts, people have been kind and welcoming. In fact, at my last house tonight, I had the pleasure of meeting a man who claims to have launched the Democratic incumbent’s political career. He’s a ninety plus year old retired farmer who I just happened to catch as he leaving for his regular euchre game at the local sportsman’s club just down the road from his house.

As I introduced myself and explained why I was at his back door, he immediately asked if I was running against the incumbent. To which I gave the answer that I offer anyone who asks that question, that I am not running against anyone, rather I am running for the residents of the Town.

That answer seemed to please him and we spent the next ten minutes talking about the town, and his family and some of his remarkable memories of the community. I enjoyed listening to his stories and I was glad that I caught him before he left for his euchre game.

As I said goody-bye, he wished me luck and said he would vote for me---after his favored incumbent, of course!

I finished up the night at the Town Board Meeting. My friend, who is running as the endorsed Republican Candidate, and I met there. We sat together. I think people aren’t unsure what to think of our collaborative effort in this campaign. But no matter, at least one of us is going to be elected and so we figure we have little to loose by supporting each other whenever and how ever we can.

The town meeting was short and concise. The Supervisor was out of town so the Deputy Supervisor, who just happens to be the Democratic Candidate running for office, presided. She did an effective job. My only issue with the meeting was that a question raised by a woman (also known as the Town Gadfly) was really not answered. And it was the second time in as many meetings that the question was raised and fundamentally ignored.

For my nickel, that’s the kind of blatant disregard for voters that gets government officials in trouble. I don’t care whether the problem or concern seems important to those governing or not. If a citizen asks a question of their elected official, then their role as a public servant requires an answer.

Ignoring the constituent is not my idea of an answer.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Day Sixty Seven

A landmark day for this candidate. Or so I thought.

At 10am the bingo balls were rolling at the Board of Elections as part of the selection process for candidate positions on the November 8th ballot. I arrived just in time to chat for a minute with a friend of mine running for Town Board in Evans before the official ceremony began.

The candidates who showed up for the selection process were ushered into a meeting room. At the front of the room sat a group of 4 men and women identified as officials of the Board of Election printing office. The Vice-Commissioner of the Board sat off to one side as an official observer and a woman stood at the end of the table to aid those drawing numbers.

Upon explaining the bingo ball procedure, candidates were called up to the table by election race, and asked to spin the bingo ball cage one way to mix the numbers and then another way to drop out a numbered ball. That number, relative to the numbers dropped by others running for the same race, then determined each candidate’s position on the ballot.

As I sat and watched those who went before me, I became oddly excited by the prospect of bingo ball tumbling. I wondered if my Irish luck would bring me a low number and therefore a good placement on the ballot. However, when my name was finally called and I approached the golden tumbler, my hopes were immediately dashed as the women in charge bluntly informed me that there was no need for me to participate.

Apparently, due to the fact that I am the only non-traditional (i.e. Republican, Democrat, Conservative and Independent) party/candidate in the campaign, there is only one place for me on the ballot. The only choice to be made concerning my ballot position is how low on the ballot I will be, and Board of Elections officials will make that decision.

Bummer. I was really looking forward to twirling that bingo ball cage.

As I left the Board of Elections dejected and bruised, I ran into a friend of mine still involved in the inner sanctum of county government. He said he’s hearing a lot about my campaign and that it’s raising some eyebrows in political circles. I’m also hearing from others that insiders are wondering where I’m getting some of my information and how I know what I do.

All of the feedback makes me feel rather like the chesire cat from Alice in Wonderland. I have a birds eye view of this election year’s political process from my tree branch and a big grin on my face from knowing a lot of the inside details.

Day Sixty Six

I finished up my first door to door district yesterday, so I began walking in a new district today.

It’s been a tough decision choosing the districts in which to walk. There are 7 election districts in my town and based on my late start, I will realistically probably only get to three or four of them. So I sat down today and studied my voter lists and strategically made a walking plan for the next month.

The district I’m targeting this week includes the area of East Eden. It’s kind of an interesting dynamic in this town. There are two clearly divided sections of Eden and East Eden within the town boundaries and the people of East Eden clearly set themselves apart in many ways.

I also know that those residing in East Eden often feel as if they are left out of the loop, sort of like the poor cousin. That type of thinking is what motivated me when I served as President and Board Member on the Chamber of Commerce, to ensure that whenever I undertook a town wide program the people and the area of East Eden were included. Same with the cider and doughnuts get together next Saturday. The ad in the Pennysaver specifically invites people from both areas.

I have no idea if the people there realize or appreciate that I have made the effort, but so far in my door to door, the response in their area has been positive.

On a related campaign note, a candidate running for the Erie County Legislature responded to the blog today. He is campaigning for the office through a write-in ballot procedure. Seems he was promised the endorsement of the Republican Party and at the last minute they pulled the rug out from under him and endorsed someone else. He is understandably angry and bitter about what happened and now is trying to rally support from the public through a grass roots campaign.

I don’t know anything about his district, his candidacy, or his legislative race. What I do know is that this person is a walking, talking billboard against the Republican Party. What particularly caught my attention is that his story bears a striking familiarity to the unsavory political process tha occurred in my own town.

For my nickel, people who are willing to step forward and put themselves under public scrutiny as political candidates deserve to be treated better by the parties they are courting. I realize that politics have become predominately a game of money and power. But there are still small glimmers of hope out there---campaigns and candidates, like me and like this person running for the legislature, who are in the game for the right reasons. We care about our community and the people who live there, and we want to serve to maintain and improve the quality of life.

Call me Pollyanna if you like---I prefer to categorize my type as a dying breed.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Day Sixty Five

Sunday. A day custom-made for campaigning door to door as many people have the day off from work and often stay around home. Unless of course it’s football season. Then you might as well forget about anyone answering their door from kickoff to the final gun.

Today was an especially bad door to door day, as the Bills played the Dolphins. No one in their right mind would consider trying to beat those odds. So, I waited until the game was over before I began walking.

Figured into my equation of when and where to walk was the variable of if the Bills won or lost. If they lost, I was only going to campaign for about an hour, right around my neighborhood. If they won, I planned to walk until dark.

Fortunately for me, the Bills managed to eek out a win and so at every door I was met by happy, smiling people.

In addition to talking to people about the town and the election, I am also reminding them about the cider and donuts get together at the Asa Warren House in two weeks. While I have my doubts that many people will show up, most everyone I meet door to door expresses what appears to be a genuine interest in attending.

The good news/bad news scenario is that while I hope for a lot of people, in reality I have no idea how many to expect and therefore how much cider and how many doughnuts to order. My husband and one of my committee people want to press the overflow of apples from the trees in our yard and serve the resultant cider at the get together. I on the other hand have insisted that we buy from one of the local vendors and be safe rather than sorry.

Just what I need….a town wide epidemic of food poisoning from serving unpasteurized cider. Now wouldn’t that just earn me a ton of votes?

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Day Sixty Four

A little less rain. A little less wind. A lot of layers. A few pieces of chocolate in my pocket. The recipe for a door to door plan in October.

The challenge of today’s campaigning was the absence of a car. Mine stopped running yesterday. So my choices were to ride my bike or to walk. Considering the weather, I decided to walk my neighborhood block, a distance of about 5 mi
Being a Saturday, I was hopeful to find people at home. Disappointingly, probably half of the houses whose doors I approached were empty. So I signed my palm card with a, “Sorry I missed you” note and kept moving.

About halfway through my walk, my friend, who is running for Town Board as the Republican Candidate, called to see what I was doing. I told him I was going door-to-door and invited him to join me. Within a few minutes he was driving down the road. We ended up finishing the second half of my planned route together.

Not only was it nice to ride in a warm car, but it was also great to campaign with him. Since he is a business owner in town and someone born and raised here, he knows a lot of people. So our partnering worked very well in that between the two of us we knew almost everyone to whom we spoke. We also were able to talk about our long time partnership on the Chamber of Commerce Boardand the fact that we would make a good team on the town board.

I’m sure that most political strategists would advise against this type of tandem campaigning, especially when there are 3 candidates for 2 available town board seats. Obviously someone has to lose and chances are it’s going to be one of the two of us. But we’ve discussed that possibility ad nauseum and we both agree that win or lose, we’re doing what we think is best for the town in this campaign and we’re both adjusted to letting the Election Day chips fall where they may.

We agreed to join forces again tomorrow (after the Bills Miami Game of course!) and spend another three to four hours working the doors.

It may not be politically smart, but it definitely feels right.

Day Sixty Three

Rain, wind, a dramatic drop in temperature, and an important free lance PR job kept me pretty much out of the campaign loop today.

I know that I’ve been so blessed with the summer-like weather that I've enjoyed since beginning my door to door campaign. It’s hard to face the fact that long johns will be part of my walking ensemble by the time Election Day arrives.

I did manage to accomplish a few campaign odds and ends today. The most important was the creation of a new Penny Saver ad, in the form of a town wide invitation.

I’ve decided that rather than schedule another campaign fundraiser, I am going to take the monies that people have so generously contributed to my candidacy and sponsor a town wide party. So on Saturday, October 22 from 9am to Noon I am going to be onsite at the Eden Historical Society, also known as the Asa Warren House, with free cider and doughnuts for all residents of Eden and East Eden.

I don’t really know if people will show up. But I do think that a town wide offering for the purpose of gathering together to talk about the town and the town’s future appeals to me both as a private citizen and as a political candidate. And I am hoping that people in this town feel the same way.

The wonderful gentleman who first approached me about running for office has taken care of the rental fee for the Asa Warren House and my campaign finance manager is going to paint some signs to place outside the Historical Building to keep the event in people’s minds. Then it’s just a matter of running the event information in the Pennysaver for the next two weeks, and waiting to see what happens.

The other bit of campaign related activity today came in the form of a letter from the Board of Elections. Since I have yet to hear if my petitions have been accepted and whether my candidacy is valid, I opened the letter with some trepidation.

What I read made me laugh out loud.

Apparently, there is a selection process used to decide how each party will appear on the election day ballot. From what I can gather it involves drawing the ballot lines out of a hat, or a box, or some type of official container. This letter informed me of the date and time of the drawing and invited me to be present to make the selection myself.

I took the letter to be confirmation that I am officially a candidate. Can’t wait to see if my Irish luck helps me draw a good line.

Day Sixty Two

Today was jam-packed with personal obligations so I sandwiched my campaigning in between.
What that meant was that on my way home from an afternoon meeting in the city I stopped at a local supermarket, grabbed a roll, some salad, a bottled water and, of course, chocolate, and ate it in the car on my way to the Eden neighborhood du jour.

Once again people were warm and welcoming as I went door to door. Some wanted to chat, while others were just happy to look over my palm card and politely listen.

Since I got a later than usual start today, I stayed out longer than planned. I have a rough schedule in my mind of the number of voting districts I want to canvas by November 8th and I need every minute I can eek out to achieve my goal. So tonight I decided to keep on trucking past my usual ending time.

The literal translation of that decision meant that I approached the last round of houses for the night in the dark. Not such a big deal if you’re on a road with streetlights and well marked house numbers. I, however, was driving on a private dirt road, with no streetlights, no road markings, no guard rails, often well-hidden houses, and acres of woods encompassing the entire setting. And did I mention that it was a cloudy windy night?

Now I’ve lived in Eden for over 10 years. I know it to be a safe and friendly town with little crime and caring citizens. However, I must admit that driving down that dirt road in total darkness, save for the night piercing beam of my car headlights, surrounded by swaying trees that were randomly attacking my car windshield with their leaves was all pretty unnerving. As the famous horror story starts out, “It was a dark and stormy night…..” and I was sure that a guy with a chain saw was just waiting in those woods for his chance to grab me!!

Needless to say, I completed my door to door rounds unscathed and, again, even on a deserted rural road where people rarely encounter unannounced after dark visitors, everyone was kind and friendly.

Note to self: re: door to door. You got lucky. From now on, start earlier, finish before dark.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Day Sixty One

I received some interesting “insider” information today about the Town Republican and Democratic powers-that-be and their perception of both my candidacy and my friend’s entry into the race as the new Republican candidate

When my friend was asked to run for the Republicans, being my friend he asked them about endorsing me since during the summer I had spoken directly to the party about possibly serving as their second candidate (foolish me!) The response to my friend’s query was that they were aware of my interest, but that I never submitted a letter requesting their endorsement, so they could not officially accept me as their candidate.

WELL…what I’ve learned is that despite their initial excitement over the chance to endorse me in June, there was not even consideration of me as a possible candidate in October. Seems they feel that I am just too difficult and would be too tough to handle.

Once I stopped laughing, I was highly complimented by their assessment. My husband also found it amusing. One of my political allies suggested that “too tough to handle” should become my new campaign slogan.

On the serious side, what concerned me more was information I received about the Democrats’ attitude toward their elective competition. Apparently, they don’t feel as if either my friend or I are any sort of a threat to their candidate. Their thought being that neither one of us is well known enough nor astute enough to put together a campaign to beat them.

Realistically, they may be right. Name recognition and incumbency are both key elements in any political campaign. The point is, unless we begin running head to head against the Democratic incumbent, the voters will have no reason to vote for either of us, versus her. And since my friend and I have both agreed that we will not engage in any type of negative campaign tactics, the reality is that one of us could very well lose on November 8th.

The funny part is, that’s ok with us, as our focus in this campaign is to try to do what is best for the town----and mud slinging is definitely not part of our agenda.

More door-to-door and hand shaking…. That’s going to be our MO.

Day 60

I’ve now become the go-to person for my friend who’s running for Town Council on the Republican Ticket. His entry into the race is so late and he is receiving such little support from the party that he’s scrambling to get signs and palm cards printed.

Just as I did, he’s painting some large plywood signs to put up around town. He’s also ordering smaller ones. The party has offered to help finance a portion of his campaign, but he has decided to pay for it all out of his own pocket.

I understand his principle of wanting to remain independent from those running the Town Republican Party, but I also know that as a small business owner with a wife and new baby to feed and clothe, he could use the money that the party is offering. I’m encouraging him to take the cash, but I don’t think he will.

I helped him create his palm card and his signs and my husband took him in his truck to pick up plywood for his signs. Hopefully in another day or so he’ll be up and running and able to start walking door to door.

I spend another evening walking some of Eden’s neighborhoods. Although based on the fact that the area I canvassed was more on the rural side, I would say driving door to door is a more accurate term.

The biggest obstacle to my door to door campaigning right now is the early end to daylight. I decided that when it gets dark, I will stop for the night. On Monday, dark came around 8p.m. But tonight it seemed as if it was almost thirty minutes earlier when darkness fell. At this rate, by election time I’ll be quitting almost before I get started!

Again, I met lots of kind and interesting people along my route. Not as many wanted to talk or discuss town issues as those I encountered the night before, but all were very respectful and most wished me good luck.

I wonder if they will even remember my name in another month as they go to the polls?

Monday, October 03, 2005

Day Fifty Nine

My first day walking door to door.

I managed to walk my way through three sections of one of the newer developme neighborhoods, set in the upper hills of town. It was the first time in my ten years of living in Eden that I’ve even been on some of the streets. They were all beautiful, and the night was just as nice with temperature in the 70’s and the sun shining full and warm.

I walked from 5 to 8p.m. and wished that the long summer nights were still around to allow me another hour of daylight.

I spoke to a number of people---some for a just a moment and some for as long as ten minutes. It was really a very rewarding experience and one that I look forward to continuing over the next five weeks.

Interestingly, no one really had any complaints or issues to discuss. One man talked at length about his frustration with the building inspector. Another man complained about the annoying length of time that it’s taking to complete the bridge repairs on Route 62. He wondered why information about the project wasn’t posted on the Town Website. I thought his point was well taken…however the Democratic incumbent is completely responsible for the website, so I didn’t offer any information on the subject.

Overall what I found is that people respect someone who takes the time to walk door to door to promote their candidacy in an up close and personal manner.

Overall what I also found is that I enjoy the process of meeting people and talking about the state of the town in which we all live, work and play.

Realistically though, when the weather changes it may be a totally different matter!

Day Fifty Eight

What started out as a quiet Sunday turned into a very interesting political evening.

On the first Sunday of each month my husband and I open our home to family and friends for a potluck dinner. It’s a tradition we began four years ago after 9/11, and since then we have spent First Sundays with anywhere from 14 to 50 people gathered around our dining room table. So with a house full of guests due by mid afternoon, I temporarily put the campaign on the back burner.

However, at the end of the night, my friend who is now running as the Republican Candidate for Town Council came over to the house. He had just met with the Town Republican Chairman and he wanted to talk about what was going on.

Basically, it was pretty simple. He signed the papers that would allow him to become the endorsed Republican Candidate on the ballot, and the chairman told him what campaign expenses the party would help to finance and what he would be responsible for, himself.

What wasn’t so simple was the heave-ho that followed, as the chairman explained that other than paying for part of the campaign, my friend is on his own. It seems that the Town Republican Committee is tied up working on the previous incumbent’s campaign for State Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, they have absolutely no time to help him at all.

When my friend told me that, I couldn’t believe my ears. The audacity of this Republican Committee is beyond me. Here they have a person who is totally new to politics, who they completely snubbed two months earlier when he petitioned them to run as their endorsed candidate, and now when he has graciously agreed to represent them, their basic attitude is one of non-support.

The whole scenario infuriated me to the point that I told him not to worry, that I would help him with his campaign every step of the way.

And I began on the spot by enlisting my daughter and one of my friends, who were both still around following our First Sunday dinner, to take some “candidate” head shots with their digital cameras. Next, I volunteered to help him write his palm card and any other ads or campaign materials he needed. Finally I told him that I would share my walking lists with him and walk door to door with him any time.

I know that any political strategist would tell me that I’m nuts for doing all this. But at the point that politics interferes with the greater good of a community, such as the Town of Eden, then I really feel as if politics as usual needs to change.

The fact that the Republican Town Committee people have chosen to focus their time and attention on helping the current Republican Town Board Member try to win a State Supreme Court Judgeship, rather than working to support their own candidate for the Town Board election, is unacceptable.

And it is just one more indication to me that the true interests of this Republican Town Committee has much more to do with their own narrow goals than any larger commitment to making Eden a better place to live.

Day Fifty Seven

I started putting my palm cards out around town. Although they contain a lot of information, people seem truly interested in reading them.

I think people are interested in anything outside the norm of traditional politics right now. At least that’s what they are telling me when I talk to them. What I can’t put together is what people say and how they vote…as evidenced by the recent primaries.

I received an email from the Town Building Inspector today. He’s agreed to meet me for lunch to discuss the whole issue that seems to continually swirl around him relative to his strict enforcement of the state and town building codes.

I look forward to hearing his side of the story and then trying to figure out a middle ground to balance his job with resident’s needs. I suggested to him that we also include the newly endorsed Republican Candidate in our discussions. I figure we might as well get this partnership up and running right from the start.

It should be interesting to see how people respond to two candidates from different parties openly supporting each other. I’m sure most political strategists would discourage such a campaign. But at this point I figure I have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

And I truly believe that if they elect both of us, the town will also gain.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Day Fifty Six

Feeling better today. Still not well enough to do campaign work, but at least able to get up and get some things accomplished around the house and visit with my son before he left tonight.

My husband said that word of my friend running as the Republican nominee is spreading around town. I learned that for myself later in the day as a reporter for the daily newspaper called to get my reaction on the Republican Party endorsing someone other than me.

Again, I spent quite a bit of time explaining to the reporter that if they had endorsed me, it would have put the race right back where it was when I decided to run, with two candidates for two offices and no voter choice. He countered by laughingly saying that apparently winning wasn't important.

Needless to say, our conversation was a series of go rounds with me trying to explain my desire to maintain my integrity and stand by my word and the reporter continually countering with remarks about my less than realistic attitude. While he did eventually say that my stand was admirable, it was clear that he thought I was unusual at best and foolish at worst.

I really am shocked at people's inability to understand and support the ideal of maintaining the integrity of my word as more important than winning a political race. It's not that I don't want to win. It's just that I have no desire to win at any cost...

...especially at the cost of turning my word into meaningless communication, never to be trusted.

Day Fifty Five

While night before last was sleepless due to too many thoughts buzzing around in my head, last night was rough due to an apparent flu from which I am suffering.

Basically I was up most of the night. So the day was about resting and trying to help the flu subside by drinking simple fluids that I could keep down.

Not much new in the campaign. Just waiting to hear about any fallout about the “new” Republican candidate.

Really never got very far from my bed, except to run two errands with my son.

Day Fifty Four

I awoke this morning exhausted from the events of the night before that kept me up until 1:30 am and awake until well after 2:30.

My late night/early morning conversation with my son really made me take a long and hard look at the campaign and how it is evolving. When my friend was asked to run as the Republican nominee, suddenly a sense of competition crept into my attitude. I began talking about political strategies and third party endorsements. In a matter of moments last night I morphed into a true politician, trying to figure out how to plan and strategize a campaign to beat others.

It was easy to do. In fact after working three years in the Erie County Legislature, that type of political campaign mindset is pretty much all I know. However, with the dawn, came a true realization that I am not a politician and am in no way comfortable taking on the persona of a politician.

So I made up my mind today to continue on course with my “your vote, your choice” campaign and focus on running to give people a voting choice, rather than trying to beat someone else.

If voters decide that they want me to serve and elect me, then that’s great. However, if they decide that the incumbent Democrat and the newly endorsed Republican are their choices, then that will be fine too. Based on all the things I have achieved in this town as a private citizen, I absolutely know that I don’t need the title of Town Councilperson in front of my name in order to make a difference or make good things happen.

Mid afternoon, I paid a visit to my friend’s pizzeria where we engaged in a productive conversation about the campaign. He has agreed to run. I again told him that I am glad that he is running. We agreed that he would check with the Republicans to see if they have any objection to the two of us doing some campaigning together.

What I find so ironic about this whole thing is that this man and I traded off the Presidency of the Eden Chamber of Commerce for a couple of years, working together to strengthen and advance the Chamber and resultantly the town. We make a great team and together and individually hold the same positive attitude about this town and its future.

While I realize that a Republican and an Independent Party Person campaigning together would fall far outside the realm of normal or even acceptable, I think working together we could pull this election off, for both of us.

I guess, time will tell.

Day Fifty Three

News of the incumbent Republican Councilman’s endorsement by the Republican Judicial Selection Committee was front and center in the daily newspaper today. However nowhere could I find information about the Independent Party's Judicial choices. So still I don’t know if the Republican incumbent is running for Town Board or not. And if he is not, if there will be someone to take his place.

It was important to me to know whether the incumbent was moving on to the judge's race, as my first fundraiser was tonight. I wanted to be able to tell my supporters exactly what was happening with the race. So I started making phone calls to people in the Republican Party that I thought might be able to help me. However, with every call, I received the same answer. No one knew what was happening.

Finally I called the incumbent himself. While the person who answered the phone implied that the Town Councilman was in the office, after a few moments, I was told that he was unable to take my call. For some reason, that felt much like a brush off rather than a matter of my bad timing.

Finally, my husband brought me the message that the people hosting my fundraiser had run into the incumbent. They said that even with only one endorsement, the incumbent stated that he was going to run. Finally I had solid information that he was going to withdraw from the town race.

By the time I got to the fundraiser, the question on everyone’s minds was whether the Republicans could endorse a new candidate. A former town Supervisor in attendance at the fundraiser informed us that he was sure that they could. Shortly thereafter, New York State Assemblyman Jack Quinn arrived and also confirmed that the Republicans could no doubt endorse someone to take the incumbent’s place.

For the rest of the fundraiser people tried to convince me that I should lobby the Republican Party for their town council endorsement. Despite a number of resolute supporters all but calling me stupid, I firmly refused to do so. The reason I got into this race in the first place was to give the town a voting choice. By actively lobbying to become the Republican Candidate, I would be putting the town election right back where it began, with two candidates for two offices…and therefore, no choice.

The lack of understanding by many of those in attendance of the importance of staying true to my principles made for some uncomfortable moments during the evening. The good news was that there were more than 30 supporters on hand and so I was able to pretty much move from one group to another and keep the atmosphere friendly and positive.

Finally as the party wound down, my good friend who owns one of the pizzerias in town, and who had provided food for the event, disappeared outside. When he returned, he had a very odd look on his face. When I asked if he was all right, his reply was that the Chairman of the Town Republican Party had just called him. He asked him to run as the Republican Candidate.

For a moment I was stunned. Then I just began to laugh. The irony of the Republicans calling to solicit my friend as their candidate as he was catering my fundraiser was just too sweet.

The rest of the night was spent with my husband, and I trying to convince my friend to run. You see he originally applied to the Republicans to run as their endorsed candidate earlier in the summer and he was refused so that if the incumbent did not receive the judicial endorsement he could return to the Town Council race. The party wanted to be sure that he would maintain his seat should he run.

I was the one who encouraged my friend to run in the first place and I was the one who took the party to task for refusing his candidacy. I’m thrilled that they have asked him to run. He’s a good man with a true interest in the town. We have worked together for years on the Chamber of Commerce and I know, should he be elected, he will make a great councilperson.

Finally, around midnight our group broke up with my friend promising to seriously consider accepting the nomination. I assured him that I would not be upset should he win and I lose. I also assured him that I would like nothing better than to work the campaign together, trying to get us both elected.

Following his departure, my son, who was visiting from out of town, talked to me for quite a while about the campaign and his fresh outsider’s view. He reinforced my belief in staying true to my principle of entering the race to provide a voting choice. He also helped me to clarify the fact that while I am involved in a political race, I am far from a politician….

….and in the wee hours of the morning, we both agreed that was a very good thing.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Day Fifty Two

And so the plot thickens…

Today rumors abounded about the scenario of the Republican incumbent and what will happen (a) if he is endorsed for the judgeship, (b) if he’s not endorsed for the judgeship. Most of the debate rages around whether the Republican Party can endorse a new candidate should the incumbent receive the judicial nod. No one can agree and at this point the Board of Elections is still counting the paper ballots from the primaries, so no official answer is available.

I’m not sure what to think anymore. I just would like some clarification as to what can happen. I’ve been told that the Republican incumbent will not run unless he has the endorsement of two parties. That leaves the Republican and the Independent conventions as the rest have already endorsed other candidates.
The bottom line is that after tonight’s judicial nominations we should have a better idea of the direction of that campaign and resultantly of the Eden Town Board Elections

And then of course, there’s still the issue of my petitions that looms…..

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Day Fifty One

Once again the judicial endorsement of the Eden Republican Town Council incumbent is front and center in my campaign.

According to information on a local political website, the endorsement of the incumbent councilman for New York State Supreme Court is simply a formality. So today, when a neighbor who has previously served as a member of the town’s Republican Party dropped by, I asked him about the protocol of the situation.

His take on the whole thing is that it’s too late for the party to nominate someone to take the incumbent’s place in the November election. Instead the process to fill the seat will involve the appointment of an individual by the town board for a one year term, followed by a special election next year to properly elect a new board member.

So, if my neighbor is correct, and if I were not running, that means that there would only be one person on the election ballot for voters to choose from to fill two town council seats.

The stupidity of this election only serves to infuriate me more with each passing day.

I can’t imagine that the Republican Party in this town was uninformed on the consequences of their actions in only endorsing their incumbent and no second candidate. Therefore, it is clear that they were willing to support their incumbent knowing that if he received the judicial endorsement, there seats.

What irks me the most is that there were capable members of the Eden Community who truly wanted to run on the Republican ticket. They were blatantly turned away in order to give the incumbent a clear path to the judgeship or the town council, depending on the outcome of the judicial endorsement.

What I’d like to know is how the future of one person is more important the futures of everyone else in this town---and what I can do about it to ensure that it doesn't happen again.

Day Fifty

I spent part of my morning at a neighboring town’s fundraiser for their library. One of my best friends helps to organize the event and so I try and support it when I can.

While I was wandering around I met up with one of the women who currently serves on the town board. I met her some time ago through my work with the Legislator. She gave me a big hug and congratulated me on running for office. She explained that she also petitioned for an additional line on the election ballot as a means of trying to get more votes. We chatted for a few minutes and she wished me luck before she moved on.

It’s funny how overnight it seems as if I have become a member a club of people already serving as government officials or running for office. The only thing that I feel I have to learn is the secret handshake and the password!

I finished up the day with a drive through town to check on my signs. A few are starting to bend and warp. They need to be re-staked. Looks like I’m going to have to regroup my sign reconnaissance commandos for another late night sign installation.
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