When your doorbell rings this time of year, it is likely to be ghosts and goblins and people running for office or pushing ballot measures. Coincidently, they all aim for one thing and that is to frighten you. Don’t be afraid! Pay attention, read between the lines and always follow the money! Who stands to win or lose? While many of you run and hide when the doorbell rings on a Saturday and a stranger is standing there holding a placard, some of us think it’s the most exciting time of the year, short of Halloween itself!!
Like many of you, I have cast many a ballot over the years, sometimes with gusto and other times holding my nose. We’ve all voted “I hope!“ But not all of us have sought the support and votes of others. I thought I would take a minute and give you my perspective from that side of the door.
If politics were sports, I would be at a five wins, one loss, in a lifetime season. Serving as an elected official is a privilege, an honor and outright fun, but the best part of all is getting to campaign door-to-door talking to real people about what’s on their mind.
Computers, cell phones, databases and even GPS have changed how campaigns are coordinated on the ground. Before all that technology, real people went door-to-door. Running for office is the most humbling thing you can do. You put your most vulnerable self on a strangers’ front porch and when the door opens, you have opened yourself up to criticism or skepticism, sometimes familiarity or outright support.
My favorite memories of getting votes goes back to the ‘80s when things we worry about now weren’t even a consideration. For example, I was walking a precinct in the Morris Heights neighborhood north of the Fitzsimons campus which was best known for the fact that the airplanes landing and taking off from Stapleton made their arrivals and departures simultaneously about every 30 seconds right over the rooftops of Morris Heights. Property values fell, houses fell into disrepair and school test scores were sagging. They clearly needed – me!
One nice autumn day I rang the doorbell in a cul-de-sac full of kids playing in the dirt, when a rather disheveled looking woman answered the door. I gave her my pitch about wanting to be reelected to represent her in the state legislature. I asked if she had any concerns. Her eyes lit up and she said “well yes,“ and went on to tell me how the noise and the chaos and the lack of sleep was taking its toll and making her feel crazy. I was proud to launch into my litany of accomplishments, such as noise monitoring leading to fees and fines paid for violations, which led to opportunities for homeowners to add air conditioning or new roofs and other noise mitigation systems at no cost for homeowners like her. She listened very politely and nodded her head a few times. Between the roar of jets taking off, of course I asked for her vote to continue my work. She tilted her head and looked at me rather strangely and then she pushed her hair off her face and waved her arm toward the cul-de-sac and said “thank you very much but it’s not about the airplanes, it’s about my six children!”
About that time, my co-walker was motioning me to get moving so I thanked her for her thoughts and she promised to get her ballot and vote for me. I moved along, learning a very valuable lesson about serving as a representative of the people. You represent people where they’re at, not where you think they are or should be.
Most of the time asking for votes is not nearly as interesting or engaging. However, some of the best times are when you get to see people as they really are, under broken cars, or painting a fence.
It’s not that way now. Robocalls and voice messages and mailers have replaced the human touch, but there are still people who are passionate about candidates or issues or solutions and they beg your attention and thought. All anybody asks is your consideration. Take the time to study or look or read or ask someone and then mark your ballot. Pick and choose the issues or candidates you know about or care about. You don’t have to vote every line, but you do have to vote!
Vote and let your thoughts be known.