Bless 'em all
- Tuesday, November 06 2012
Now the campaign has come to an end, and, before the votes are counted, I wanted to thank the many people who supported my candidacy.
I am a novice at running for political office. At the outset, I knew that I could not expect the political and labor establishment to finance my campaign. And they haven’t. Likewise, I was not willing to spend my own money to hire political consultants to gin up a sales pitch for me. (In 2010, one Council candidate contributed $46,300 to her own campaign, of which $15,000 went for political consulting fees. She came in fifth).
I hoped that my long-time friends and those who toiled beside me in the trenches during the golf wars would support me financially. And they did. But, thanks mostly to people like Bill and Chris Schmitz, my tireless fundraisers, a host of Alamedans whom I’ve never met also contributed to my campaign. The result is that I ended up raising more money from Alameda residents than any other candidate.
Never having run a campaign, I sought and received advice about such essentials as lawn signs, mailers, and walking precincts from current and past officeholders like Doug deHaan, Lil Arnerich, and Karin Lucas. None of them – well, Lil maybe – tried to impose their political opinions on me. Politically savvy friends like Gretchen Lipow, Kathy Schumacher and Emil Radoff also gave me tips – and, more importantly, talked me up to their “networks.” Pam Curtis (with the help of Cece Pereira), Margot Gibson, Nancy Hird, and Karin Lucas arranged get-togethers for me at their homes. (I especially thank Nancy, who couldn’t be present herself because she had to fly back East to be with her ailing daughter). Nadine Barbera interjected an endorsement for me in her thank-you speech at her and Andy’s 50th wedding anniversary party. Those gorgeous photos of me on my campaign mailer were taken by Margot. And my newest friend and supporter, Wendell Stewart, met me at the Farmer’s Market on Saturday and immediately offered to drive me around town in his Model T – festooned with my signs – on Sunday and Monday. That was really fun.
But it wasn’t just my friends who helped me with the campaign. Several times, I got calls or emails from people I didn’t know who had heard me speak or read my Website and who decided I was someone worthy of advice and support. As far as I can tell, none of these people had an axe to grind (or kept it well-hidden). Instead, they volunteered to share their knowledge and insights about the issues that concerned us both. I always accepted the offer and I always learned something. I will keep the identities of these people confidential to spare them from being targeted in the blogosphere for contributing to my ignorance of the party line.
In addition, City staff, including City Manager John Russo, City Treasurer Kevin Kennedy, and Alameda Point Chief Operating Officer Jennifer Ott, took time to talk with me about the City budget and Alameda Point. City Clerk Lara Weisiger always responded pleasantly, and promptly, to the barrage of requests from Bob for public documents that had not made it onto the City’s Website. Mayor Marie Gilmore and Council members Beverly Johnson and Lena Tam graciously met me for coffee to discuss City issues.
As a former high school debater, I was expecting to enjoy speaking at candidate forums, and I did. Without exception, all of my fellow candidates were cordial and respectful of each other’s views. But perhaps my favorite campaign activity was going around town in the morning to elementary schools and handing out my “palm cards” to parents who had just dropped off their kids at school. At first, I feared my presence might be regarded as an intrusion, but it turned out that virtually everyone greeted me with a smile and some even lingered to chat about the issues they cared about.
Finally, as I noted on the biography page, my husband, Bob, was not enamored of the idea of me running for Council. Nevertheless, he agreed to serve as my researcher and speechwriter as long as I promised not to use the words “vibrant,” “sustainable” or “transparent” – or any similar buzzwords – on the stump. I kept my promise, and he kept his, and then some. There is absolutely no way I could have done this without him.
When I decided to begin this great and noble undertaking, I knew I had not followed the conventional path to a seat on Council. I had not held multiple elected or appointed offices. I had not joined numerous civic organizations. I couldn’t tell Don Perata from Donald Trump. The only approach available to me was to stick to the facts and tell people what I thought about the vital issues facing our City. Exalting substance over shibboleths may well turn out to have been a mistake. But that’s the kind of campaign I chose to run. I could do no other.