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As Long as We Remember...

December 2, 2005

One Man's Meat Is Another's Potatoes

Alan Imhoff

Recently I had the good fortune to have a positive result at the local level of politics in the greatest land for democracy in the world, an overnight success after a decade and a half of attempts.

Now I am an alderman-elect and already on the "rubber chicken" circuit.

Since August 1st when I filed, it has been a gradually escalating experience in time and effort, not to mention finding funds to do what is expected in effort to win votes.

But just what does it take to win?

There are those who adamantly express the view that to win an election you must get your name out in every conceivable way so the voters will not forget your name on Election Day. Those who have the most signs in the best locations, win. Well, not always!

Then there are those political operatives who are absolutely sure that you have to visit 10,000 households, knock on the door and convince the voters inside you are the absolute best candidate in the world. The question is: who picks up all the literature strewn across countless lawns and in the bushes because no one was home?

Hundreds of advertisements, stickers, rulers and other handouts now become memorabilia for those who collect such things. When all is combined with the flyers, mailings, phone calls and the ubiquitous signs, did it really make all that much difference?

For every theory out there, there is a countervailing one. What made a success for one candidate was a defeat for another, who did the exact same thing as the one who won.

Or does it really boil down to each one of us making a judgment call on who we think will do the best for us. Then we go tell someone else, who in turn tells two more as we talk with three more people, who in turn... or in the word of the campaign, "buzz".

What people are really saying about candidates and issues, not the pundits or the editorial writers, is usually what it all comes down to, primarily in the proverbial last two weeks. So if that is the real reason, why not just have a two-week "buzz" campaign with no signs, no buttons, no phone calls, maybe an advertisement or two and then it is all over.

I have been on the losing side of the equation more often than winning, but the one thing I do know is that not one person really knows all the nuances that take place in the minds of the voters, especially on Election Day.

I will have to give up one of my most enjoyable volunteer positions for the next four years, being an election judge. Over the past five presidential election cycles, I have had the privilege to serve as one of the chief election judges at the "Armory" at Bentz and Second Streets.

I have heard just about every excuse as to why people did not vote, and I've heard some of the most unusual reasons as to why people did vote for a particular candidate. In most cases it is funny; but taken overall it is a sad commentary on just why so many give up their most fundamental right as a citizen of this democracy.

Pollsters have been right on the mark, and they can miss by a mile. Just remember how Thomas E. Dewey must have felt when Harry Truman held up the famous newspaper headline.

So, whether you are one of the fortunate few who really know why people win and others do not, or you are just like most of us and do not have a clue, I trust you were one of the 9,122 who came out on such a beautiful day this November 1st to continue the tradition by electing the 58th consecutive administration of The City of Frederick.

Of the 4,140 of those 9,122 who voted to give me an opportunity to serve, I thank you.

And for the 2,103 who showed up at the William R. Talley Recreation Center (a.k.a. Armory) I missed serving you. But I do hope you continued our long-standing tradition of chowing down that chicken corn soup followed by those wonderful slices of homemade pie that only we know about.

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