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Bits and Pieces – 20181026, Sunday

Commentary

I have been distracted by an unsuccessful run in municipal politics. It took a few hours of reflection to analyze my emotional response and an gain an understanding of the event. Here it is. But first some background on the results.

There were 8 candidates running for 4 positions. Three were 3 incumbents and one person returning to office after a term or two off. The fifth was a local realtor and Strathroy native, well known in the community. That left 3 unknowns including myself who is new to town. Poll results were in the order I described the candidates. I polled 747 votes for 6th place (first place was over 2700 votes) but only 31 votes ahead of the last place finisher. I tell people I tied for last place which I think is an astute assessment.

When asked if I was disappointed in not winning – in my mind were scenarios where I might have won – I replied “no” as I have a couple of projects that I could now get on with. What I was disappointed in was that I did not think the results reflected the effort, time and money that my wife and I invested in the election.

Finally, there was the understanding of two major points that were present when I decided to run but that I did not understand. This in itself was a brilliant flash of insight: nothing changed over the entire period except my understanding of the situstion.

The first point, and this is key I think to all politics, is that there were no major issues with the past administration. People had their personal peeves – their street has potholes, the town needs an indoor pool, etc. – and there were a few individuals that did not like the mayor or a particular Councillor. However, there was no single major issue such as corruption manifested in some form or other, to cause dissatisfaction with the previous administration.

Whether you gave them an “A”, “B”, or “C”, they earned a pass. An “F” would have created a totally different situation. Despite comments from many that I spoke to about needing “new blood” on council, the old adage,”if it ain’t broke don’t try and fix it” held sway and wisely so.

The second point is that I am new to town. One Councillor is a retired high school teacher and has taught half the community. Those re-elected are widely known, most having grown up here. Although Strathroy is growing fast, it has that small town core of residents where everyone knows everyone else. In some small towns it takes generations before you become accepted fully in the community.

In short, I didn’t stand a chance. Nor will I in 2022 unless these two conditions change. There is also an age factor. This election was difficult in terms of going door-to-door for 3, 4, 5 or more hours at a time. It won’t be easier in 4 years.

I knocked on about 750 doors out of an estimated 7500. I talked to an amazing array of people. None were hostile and most were warm in their response. You sized up the situation in a fraction of a second to determine your approach. When a man or woman answered a door holding 2 children with three in the background running around with 5 barking dogs, you read very quickly that this person isn’t looking for any kind of a conversation. One woman may even have been nursing an infant although I was careful not to stare to see if this was the case or not. The closest to having someone answer the door naked was a tall fellow wearing only shorts riding below a belly that suggested that he hadn’t seen his feet in a decade or two. I sensed very quickly he didn’t want to talk.

It was hard work and the most enjoyable part of the campaign by far – a valued experience.

With this I can put it behind me.

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