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Elections in a Small Town

June 3, 2014

Election Day. It’s been a very nice day with a few really choice moments, which is nice because for years, I’ve laid pretty low on local elections days.

Since I left my very community-centric job at DCTV eight years ago, and because of the circumstances under which I left, I’ve not had much interest in local politics. Don’t feel like going into that, but suffice to say, my unhappiness about leaving left me sort of unhappy about all things community and I just retreated into a pretty quiet place and focused on new, other, non-community things. (At least those non-community-ish things were happy-making.)

But I do remember with incredible fondness the thrill of [many things, but especially] election time. Back in the day–and for over twenty years–election season was huge for me. Our small television station factored large during campaigns and on election night, especially in our early years (mid-80s to mid-90s, pre-world wide web, if you can believe there was ever such a time) because we were the best source for election information and–as soon as the polls closed– for returns.  In the earliest days, I served as host on our election night programs, which would begin promptly at 8:00pm and continue “until the final ballot was counted,” which back then could be 2:00am. It was all wildly thrilling. As host, I would deliver updates via slips of paper (really) that would be passed to me live, on the air. We had enormous election-night audiences. For days after, I would be stopped everywhere I went, “I saw you last night on Channel 5!” (and later, “I saw you last night on Channel 15!”).  “Great show!”  Election seasons loomed large and were an incredible high.

Etc., etc.  It was fun. Because of my role as executive director of a thriving media outlet (then it really was), I was in the middle of all kinds of community and political life. Knew the people, knew the issues, and totally cared about it all.

But then, after leaving DCTV, I didn’t care so much.  Or rather, just wanted to redirect.  And since 2006, I have really been community issues-stupid. I’m not kidding. For most of the last eight years, I’ve hardly picked up an Enterprise, save for the youth sports stories (no offense Davis Enterprise, it’s not you!) and have had to rely on Jim to keep me minimally conversant on local topics of the day. For much of this time, I’d have had a hard time telling you who the city council people were or how they aligned on this issue or that. After twenty-plus years at the epicenter of community life, that is just totally weird. But it’s sorta been my reality. Call me a sore loser. Or maybe just a very wounded person.  Whatever.

[Don’t feel sorry for me; like I said, I redirected. Happily.]

Anyway.

I have found a whole, whole bunch of places to volunteer my time and these chosen volunteer outlets have been deeply satisfying, like…

For years, I’ve been working with David Breaux on his journey of compassion, including editing his first book, promoting the construction of the Compassion Corner Earthbench and recently planning the upcoming Compassion Tour and, last week, its benefit dinner. I have edited, for free, three other books (ridiculously fun) and written–for a variety of purposes–literally countless articles, features, and press releases for the Enterprise (right, the newspaper I’ve had a hard time bringing myself to read). I’ve been driving for the winter homeless shelter, regularly checking in on my 92-year-old neighbor June (and doing errand and shopping support), baking & cooking for various school hospitality committees, tabling and getting more involved with Moms Demand Action and the Yolo Brady Campaign, and, of course, scorekeeping for–and reporting on–dozens upon dozens of baseball games.

And writing a daily, journally, photo blog thing.

(And wow, here I go list-making again.  Sorry.)

Back to the election.

The context for this post is: I haven’t been all that involved in elections, but this time, not only did I care a little bit more than in elections past, I did a teeny, meeny bit of volunteering for this one guy’s campaign.

And by teeny, meeny, I mean I volunteered to make some telephone calls to get people to the polls. Nothing worth a king-sized medal or anything, but a little bit of a contribution and a little bit of fun. Yay me.

Sooooo, on this election day in Davis, there were a few things that really, really made my day:

1. Having volunteered to Make Calls for the Joe Krovoza campaign, and having not been able to allocate the time over the weekend, today was my day. So this morning, I went to pick up a bunch of call sheets at campaign headquarters, and planned to make calls this afternoon.  While there, I was given a short orientation.  One thing a campaign volunteer suggested to me, in addition to making my calls, was, “you might want to make sure your neighbors vote.” And I thought, right… June may need some assistance…

When I got home, I went over to June’s.  It turns out, she’s been really ill (as has Tracy, her ancient, overweight, arthritic, poorly groomed pit bull).  Voting was the last thing on her mind. But she also said she’d never, ever missed voting in an election and she’d hate not to vote. In case you don’t know, June was born in Davis. Her mother was born in Davis(ville). She grew up in a house at the corner of 3rd and C Streets (coincidentally, Compassion Corner). She’s got a lot of history in this town, so voting’s a big deal. She decided that, yes, she did want to vote, so she and I started looking everywhere for her vote-by-mail ballot. She found it (in spite of the fact she’s functionally blind) and we commenced to filling in the blanks. She was very cranky today (sick, hurting, hungry, sad because of Tracy, and I sensed a bit peeved at me for being MIA in recent weeks…) and wasn’t up on most of the races. I offered to share my thoughts on those races she was clueless about. She is a republican so defaulted most often to republican candidates, but I scored two victories in the two races I cared passionately about: City Council (Robb Davis) and State Assembly (Joe Krovoza).   Yay me.

To make this long story short, I took her ballot over to Davis Community Church (while downtown fetching her a Subway sandwich and Tracy some dog treats). They were willing to overlook the proxy matter (I’d neglected to get her signature on the envelope that would officially authorize me to serve in this capacity), and the fact I’d torn off the privacy flap (and thus the envelope’s sealant). They enjoyed my story about how she’d grown up just one block south and how her mom had planted what is now that huge, heritage elm tree on that corner. FOX news was also at this polling location, but decided not to have me recount my whole story again for the evening news (phew).

I was just glad a) June got to vote, and b) I was able to facilitate one more vote for Robb and Joe.

2. I finally got some time at 4:15 to make my Joe calls. I gathered all my call sheets and my cell phone and went into the back yard to lie in the hammock and call people in St. Helena, Rohnert Park, American Canyon, Woodland, Winters and Davis.  I did that for two hours and made 56 calls, reaching a small-ish percentage of those, but leaving a lot of messages. I don’t much like that kind of thing, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it’d be. I did get a kick out of the sweetness of lying in the hammock in the garden in the shade on a 90 degree day making get-out-the-vote calls. And kind of kicking ass at it.

3. I summarized my effort, clipped the batch of call sheets together and headed back over to campaign headquarters. The buoyant, bustling crowd of this morning was gone. When I pulled up to the cul-de-sac at the end of Waxwing, there were no cars. The sun was low, the shadows were long, and there was Joe sitting on a chair in the middle of a shady patch of grass bent over a call sheet making calls.

Image

At the end of the campaign, the polls and projections have not been favorable. He’s been a long shot from the get-go, but his campaign generated so much momentum because, actually?, he’s the best guy for the job. Independent newspaper, after independent newspaper, and environmental organizations and cultural and social interest groups galore have been endorsing him. He is the real deal, a committed public servant, not a machine politician and people recognized that. But it’s hard to overcome the money that comes from machine endorsements (especially when one of the candidates is the son of a popular State Senator), and our assembly district is a huge one with lots of republicans, in the far reaches of which the mayor of Davis is not well known. Anyway, an uphill battle for Joe from the start. But he’s run an amazingly positive, issues-based race and would have won if the campaign had been based on experience, knowledge and integrity. What a concept.

Seeing him alone, making calls at the end of the campaign as the sun was setting… that was poignant. As I write this, he is losing pretty significantly.  I’m disappointed as hell, but proud to have supported him. Good guy.

So those were this election day’s choice moments. Felt good to get a little bit back in the community saddle.

One Response to “Elections in a Small Town”


  1. I enjoyed this blog post. I can understand losing interest for awhile after you left your job…. I have been up and down about politics, usually not much interested in local political races. This year, because the person I’m dating is very involved in local politics, I became more interested. We went to a debate and met the candidates. It was really enlightening and I was surprised at how much more interesting it all became after that. I was more excited to vote this year and was anxious to see the results this morning.


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