Campaign Diary – Being One’s Own Person
I had an interesting conversation last week with someone about perceptions. A person came up to me and said: “I’ve been hearing that you’ve been seen at (insert establishment here) and frankly, we’re concerned.”
“Why are you concerned?”
“Well, you’ve been seen with (insert name here) at (insert establishment here), which makes some of us think that you are nothing more than a puppet of (insert name here). We don’t think you should be seen with (inset name here) and you should no longer go to (inset establishment here).”
Well, after some more give and take, it became clear that I was presented with two choices: 1) stop going to (insert establishment here), so I wouldn’t be seen with (or without) (insert name here); or 2) keep doing what I’m doing by going to (insert establishment here) or any other place.
This is a tough call. On the one hand, I am my own candidate, and with whom I’m seen should only show that I am looking to meet with people from all sides. Furthermore, no one really knows the content of these conversations. It would be unfair to make the leap from seeing me with (insert name here) at (insert establishment here) to being in league with that person and their ideologies. Isn’t it possible (and true) that by seeking counsel from all sides on an issue, one becomes more informed?
On the other hand, I (and other candidates) need to be reminded that people’s perceptions are their realities, and we must respect that. We cannot ignore what people see and say. We must take their perceptions into account.
Each candidate must decide how he or she will handle this situation. Me? I will keep talking to people from all sides on all issues.
Monday, April 26 – Farewell to Delegate Sue Hecht
Delegate Sue Hecht announced that after 12 years representing Frederick County in Annapolis, she would retire. She said that she wanted to spend more time gardening, golfing, and spending time with her grandchildren and her husband. Ms. Hecht served in the House of Delegates from January 1995 to January 2003, and again from January 2007 to the present.
I first met her a few years ago at a Heartly House function, when she was the chief operating officer. It was a quick introduction, and certainly not memorable to her. What I liked about her from afar was her commitment to Heartly House cause, which serves those affected by domestic violence, child abuse and sexual assault. Delegate Hecht worked successfully on some of these issues, from making child sex abuse a crime of violence, to supporting "Christopher's Law" that gave judges the power to sentence repeat child sex offenders to prison for life without the possibility of parole.
We met formally, and at length, last fall when I decided to run. I sought her counsel on issues that were important to Frederick County, and asked her advice on running a political campaign. She was very gracious and responded to my naive questions with professionalism and respect. My hope is that she doesn’t entirely go off into the sunset. She’s done much for her constituents.
Delegate Hecht was recently quoted as saying: "I would say the most important thing is to listen, not talk. Get both sides of the issue, which really is important. It's always important to bring both sides together to hear what the concerns are upfront, which lets legislation move ahead much better and lets people think things out without having a fight."
Words to live by, no matter what peoples’ perceptions are.
Thursday, April 29 – Long Day, Lost Voice
Today began with my weekly “Coffee with the Candidate,” this time in Monrovia at a place called The Buzz. It’s a great place, if you haven’t been there. It so happened that I was there with a group called “C.A.K.E.S.,” which is an acronym for “Citizens Against Kemptown Electric Substation”. It is a group determined to prevent the highest voltage electric substation ever built in the United States. They believe that Frederick County will be burdened and harmfully impacted by Allegheny Energy’s PATH (Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline) transmission line even though none of the energy supplied will benefit Frederick County residents. The reduction of neighboring home values was the tipping point, allowing me to support this cause.
It was then that I had a great lunch with a local leader and two others, and the discussion centered on the Waste-to-Energy facility, its advantages and disadvantages. The discussion confirmed much of what I already knew, but added insight to discussions I didn’t have access to as a citizen.
This meeting was followed by another with a municipal and state leader, and focused on my campaign and the relationship between the Board of County Commissioners and the municipalities. We also discussed a charter form of government. Like the lunch meeting, the discussion confirmed much of what I already knew, but added insight to discussions I didn’t have access to as a citizen.
The day ended (after spending time with my daughters on their homework) with a private fundraiser in the city of Frederick. The hosts were wonderful, and I met many who really care for Frederick. I made it all the way to the end without losing my voice, but I sounded like Froggy on Lil’ Rascals when I phoned in my report to my campaign manager. She was pleased that she could finally do all the talking!