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.
 
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