Election time. (sigh). I don't know, somehow it seems that all the hype before the vote is cast is done wrong. Oh, there are cases when it I do feel a connection with a candidate, but overall, it is the same 'ol, same 'ol.
When you are driving about town today count the number of election signs planted in the medians, lawns and elsewhere. some patches of ground have over a dozen signs planted. It starts with one sign for one candidate, then an opposing candidate feels it is a good spot, and they anchor a sign with their name on it in the same spot, and then another candidate. Equal time, and all is good.
Then the first candidate sees the competition is surrounding them, so out comes another sign, and it is stuck in the earth near the first one, but planted in a way to show this candidates name better, and twice as much as the others. The other candidates soon follow suit. In a short time the small patch of ground has several signs from each of candidates.
Does the number of signs one displays an indicator for the being the best candidate, or is it supposed to show the number of supporters each person running for office has?
I have no idea. Not a clue, but it is most definitely a competitive sport in these parts.
I was always under the assumption that a campaign sign was to get the name of the candidate out there along with the office they are running for. It is a simple process. A sign here, a sign there along the most traveled roadways will get the name out to the public.
In the town in which I lived for way too long before coming to Sturbridge, they had a town bylaw that prevented stationary campaign signs from cluttering up the landscape. The signs could only be mounted on something portable with wheels. This insured that the signs had to be moved, and would be removed after the election. Of course, it led to there being large 4 foot by 6 foot signs, but the number of them was far less, and they were removed immediately after the election.
Once a candidate announces their intentions to run getting their name out there is important, so campaign signs do play a role, but it goes beyond the "King of the Mountain" game with the signs. There has to be frequent debates, public speeches, direct mail to the voters, and letters to the editor announcing their positions on various issues.
Yesterday I received a letter from James Ehrhard. The letter was the same as was published in the local paper, but at the bottom of the letter was a personal, handwritten note to me asking for my vote. This is connecting with a voter. It was something that everyone received, but the added personal note made the connection. It was well done.
Now, I haven't decided on who will get my vote as of yet, but I do feel I need to acknowledge when something is said well, or an act is done with some thought. This letter was something done well.
I am still waiting for specifics from each candidate. The rhetoric is fine, and expected in a pre-election period, but I want to read the specifics of how each candidate will treat each issue facing the town today, and the ones we see heading down the road. Some have mentioned the Route 15 development, others have mentioned the Southbridge Dump, and our own Recycling Center, but I want to know how each candidate feels about all the issues, and then I want to compare them. It would be like shopping for a new flat screen TV online, pull up a list of TV's that interest you, check the box beside the ones you want to compare and then click the compare button. Each TV would be listed with all the specifications for each in a column making it very easy to find just the right TV.
We need something like that. We are all far too busy to weed through all the rhetorical letters, letters to the editor, and transcripts of debates to make the best decision. Our heads have become accustomed to comparing, and choosing based on the new online paradigm. It's just the direction the world has gone.
In the meantime, I would like to extend to each of the candidates an invitation to respond to one particular question, and have their response published here on this page. A question that is a bit out of the mainstream of topics, but one that will require an answer that is not "canned". Depending on how the candidate responds to the question, or if they respond at all, will be a good way to see just where their head is at. In the end we can compare their responses. It may not be the most scientific method, but it will rise above the signs, the canned political rhetoric, and supply their idea/thoughts/plan off the cuff.
Send your response to firstname.lastname@example.org
Pretty simple. A benign, but important question. Something that requires some thought. The thought process alone will give a good indication how the candidate processes other issues.
OK, candidates, start writing.
If anything, this will be interesting.