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Local Government

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by Songbird, Mar 4, 2015.

  1. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    I ran for one of two open seats on the local Select Board -- 7-person governing body.

    Got 489 votes but finished 6th out of 8. Difficult process, difficult 6 weeks of campaigning. It consumes every part of you and exposes you in ways you're not always comfortable with.

    Top vote-getter (819) is a good guy and I have no problem with him winning. Forward thinker.

    The other guy is a puppet.

    Has anyone run for local government?
  2. trifectarich

    trifectarich Well-Known Member

    I applaud you for being involved. Since I moved about 18 months ago, I'm a regular at the city council meetings and often there are only two or three people who show up (in a city of about 9,000) to listen and see what's going on. At just about every meeting I'll get up and speak when it comes time for public comments, and if I've accomplished anything, it's that members of city council know they're going to have to listen to my bitching when I think they're spending money a little too loosely. A couple of neighbors want me to run for a seat this fall; not sure if I'll do it.
  3. I Should Coco

    I Should Coco Well-Known Member

    Trifecta, is a local reporter among the two or three people at the meetings? In today's media world, I'm guessing no.

    When I started in this biz, we staffed all the government meetings in the good ol' media watchdog role. Even when nothing interesting was on the agenda, my editor would say, "Coco, you're the eyes and ears of the public. You go to those meetings on behalf of our readers."

    That was more than 20 years ago. Today, the handful of reporters in our bare-bones shop literally don't know where city hall is. It's a phone number and set of extensions/email addresses to them.

    Good for you, Xan and Trifecta, for getting involved.
  4. trifectarich

    trifectarich Well-Known Member

    No, I've never seen a newspaper or TV reporter at a meeting. I can somewhat understand local TV giving the cold shoulder to these meetings; 98 times out of 100 you'd be hard pressed to find something that merits a report on the evening news. But the two local newspapers in the county and the big daily metro? There's no excuse for not being able to find a stringer capable of sending in 6-8 inches.
  5. sostartled

    sostartled Member

    I also applaud you for getting involved. When I was in the business a decade ago, the four local papers had someone at almost every meeting. The towns weren't that exciting, so selectmen, planning board, and school board was how we filled our columns. I've had an itch ever since I stopped reporting, but I moved away and now live in an area where it'd be very difficult to get involved (major metropolitan with a confusing governing structure).
  6. three_bags_full

    three_bags_full Well-Known Member

    Army regulations do not allow ... obviously.
  7. Michael_ Gee

    Michael_ Gee Well-Known Member

    Anyone who gets involved in local politics and government deserves the utmost praise. Some of my friends are extremely wired in town government either as officials or ex-officials who know everybody and what's what. This allows lazy me to just call them up or meet them socially at parties and such and learn what's happening and what to do. But that option's not open to many.
    PS: Local weekly does an adequate job of coverage of government. Used to be better, but then Gatehouse bought it.
  8. Webster

    Webster Well-Known Member

    I am debating running for my town council this year. A good friend was on the council and he has tried to get me to run in my ward. Unfortunately, no Democrat has won from my ward this century and I would have almost no chance to win.
  9. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    8 people ran for 2 open seats -- one of the largest fields ever -- and 7 of them were connected in one form or another to the "12 Tribes of Bennington" so the odds were stacked heavily against me as an outsider even though my footprint here goes back to 1987. I worked for the paper in the '90s as well.

    Mine was a Bedford Falls campaign: winning hearts and minds by knocking on doors in every neighborhood and listening to the people. None of the other 7 candidates engaged the electorate the way I did though it may have been my undoing because I didn't have any power brokers on my team outside of my advisor. That said, I got to know this town well the last 6 weeks.

    Big piece of me thought I'd win a seat despite the odds and naysayers. It's a shame that the second-place vote getter retained his seat. A crying fucking shame on so many levels. Still trying to wrap my head around it.
  10. murphyc

    murphyc Well-Known Member

    Good for you, Songbird.
    Personally, I wouldn't want to run for local government. I've spent enough of my life at meetings covering them, so I don't have the desire to be at the meetings to be covered. When I've asked councilors over the years about it, they've told me it takes them about 15 hours a week getting prepared for a meeting. In all the cities I've covered councils in, serving has been an unpaid situation. At least when I cover a meeting I am (supposedly) getting paid to sit there. After so many nights away from home covering meetings, I would have a hard time justifying spending those same nights away from home doing something I'm not getting compensated for. I've also seen how councils can sometimes not work together too smoothly or force a vote to go a certain way. In other words, I've seen how the sausage gets made and I want no part in it.
    At my last gig, I went to my first council meeting (city of 60K) and all three local TV stations were there, plus a reporter and photographer from the local daily. I thought I was in the big leagues, at least compared to previous councils I'd covered elsewhere. I asked one of the TV reporters if she attended many of the meetings. She told me she made it to a majority of them. You can probably guess how many additional times I saw her or any other TV person there. Only other time I recall seeing TV there in four years was when there was a debate about a Planned Parenthood building.
  11. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    Thirty years ago now (jeez, time flies), a good friend ran for Commonwealth's Attorney in a small Virginia town. He was a Democrat in a heavy Republican area going against a long-time incumbent who either ran unopposed or steamrolled his opposition. My pal worked his ass off and was able to get the town to see this guy had been on cruise control for years. He won with 60 percent of the vote and served 16 years.

    It can be done.
  12. Webster

    Webster Well-Known Member

    I hear you. Part of me really wants to do it and part of me is worried that I don't have the proper time to devote to the job. I also am not a great glad hander and in a ward of 6,000 people it is all about retail politics.

    Mrs. W, who works from home, is just as smart and is way, way nicer than me, is considering running if I don't.
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