Here's the Scoop: November 23, 2011

The votes are counted
Well, another Election Season is over. Unlike the Presidential campaign that lasts exactly four years and involves seemingly dozens of “front-running candidates” (changing about every eight days) local election action is a bit more low-key.

Because most village, town and county races involve “neighbors running against neighbors,” the campaign season can take on a pretty personal tone.

As I geared up for my re-election bid for a local town board, I actually forced myself to be pleasant to people for several months. This task isn’t as easy as it sounds — being nice isn’t a trait that comes naturally to me. Pulled muscles are common from such unusual exercises involving the largely unused muscles needed for smiling.

Just kidding about this, of course. I’d like to think that I act the same way towards others whether it’s an election year or not.

My re-election bid was not the high-pressure type, since I didn’t have an opponent. In fact, with a few other hotly-contested races in the township, I nearly forgot that I was running. Believe me, it’s much less stressful to watch “others” sweat out the balloting results.

Being friends with many of the candidates makes such elections particularly hard. No one likes to lose. That’s why I like to refer to election outcomes as having a “winner.” And the other candidates are “those who did not win.” It’s nicer.

Lots of local interest
The weird thing about running for office is that you truly have to believe you can win. Unless you’re Ralph Nader. On a local level, when vote totals are generally in the hundreds, there’s good cause for optimism.

Unlike the backstabbing and name-calling that has come to define most elections on state and national levels, it seems like the local races were relatively clean affairs this year. Were snide remarks made? Probably. But, for the most part, the campaign rhetoric focused on each candidate’s strengths. It was refreshing.

Still, each race can only have one winner. Not winning is hard. Tell the Texas Rangers that they made a “good effort.” I’m sure they would prefer the World Series rings instead of words of consolation.

Because elections take place during the same general timeframe as the Fall Classic, comparisons between that game and the game of politics seem appropriate. There were plenty of hits, runs and errors among all candidates, but no perfect games.

Ultimately, the outcomes on the ballot “scoreboard” tell the story. Those whose tallies are not number one are left to wonder about all the voting “promises” that didn’t exactly equal the actual totals.

As a wise man schooled in the election process once told me about the campaign trail, “The only ones you can believe are the ones who say they won’t vote for you.”
— Brian Sweeney