Is that the fat lady singing????
If you haven't figured it out from Wagner's ladies, I lost.
It wasn't even close. But more than 1100 people voted for me, and I would call that pretty amazing. The vote was split among 5 candidates and the incumbents were both popular and powerful, and the two other candidates had (informal but strong) support of a large union and had lived here most of their lives, meeting many registered voters along the way. Nevertheless 1100 people thought I was the best choice. It was a long shot that fell somewhat short.
The last month or so, I felt like I lost my voice. Constantly scrutinizing what I said- or even thought- was excruciating. I felt victimized, just from the lack of being able to express myself. "You just can't say that when you are running for office!" Now I have my little blog back, and with it my freedom of speech. That feels much better.
But I shouldn't have worried - plenty of people didn't lose their tongues and spewed plenty of nastiness. Worse though, were some actions. The election brought out the worst in lots of people. People were conniving, dishonest and threatening. Some people published their own revisionist history (and were openly attacked in the online and print media for it, so I don't need to). Others were condescending to voters. Some people were mean just to be mean, others were hurtful without trying to be. And I was actually shocked by what liberties people take when writing online. People will write cruel things in an e-mail or online that they would NEVER say aloud or publicly.And someone owes me about $50 in stolen signs. (Yes, this blog doesn't have my name, but I've addressed that in earlier blogs).
When I lost I knew I hadn't "tried everything". I lost, in part, because I wasn't willing to try everything. Some people, even if it wasn't formally cheating, used questionable ethics (I'm tempted to ask the New York Times' "Ethicist"!) I spent days with friends, wondering rhetorically, "Who helped?" I'll never know....
Last week the whole town, it seems, was asking "The $2500 dollar question." "Was that money really a single gift from a generous friend, or money pooled by people trying to hide their identities."
See?! Even I fell into the spiral of conspiracy theories that surrounded this little local election! I was pretty lucky and stayed largely (but not completely) protected from direct attacks. A large group of people refused to vote for me based on a widely-spread misconception. I was spared from the worst attacks thanks to a guardian angel who reigned in the dogs! You never know what people will pick at - someone even insinuated that my hair was a real problem! Even that I eventually let slide. But one heated conversation still hurts. Some wounds take time to heal.
I'm proud of my campaign. It was compassionate, honest and even when directly asked, I never personally attacked ANYONE in the papers or in private. No longer a candidate I hope I can continue to be proud of my actions. It feels better than my usual self-depreciating humor.
Possibly the most important change has been my millimeter-thicker skin. It grew from the visible support I got from people who care.
My friends and family has been wonderful. I wouldn't even know where to start to explain. I had around 100 signs in Bridgewater families' yards! In fact, I ran out of signs before I ran out of yards. People continuously showed their personal connection with my campaign. One of the Moms at TKD had tears in her eyes as she hugged me (I haven't cried about losing, but she did). Two of my friends dropped everything going on in their lives to help me with anything I needed over the past few weeks, nights, days, evenings and weekends. How do you thank someone for that?! My kids and husband have let me do everything I wanted or needed for this, and stood up for me publicly and privately. (Although I think my husband was relieved when it was over!) But best of all have been the messages of love and support. On Tuesday and Wednesday my phone beeped or rang literally every few minutes with someone wishing me luck or letting me know that they had just voted for me.
When you die, your family throws a big funeral. People drink too much, eat too much and cry too much. If I die tomorrow I know how people feel! For days friends and family have expressed their how much they respect me and how impressed they were by me and how much they care! RG even sent me flowers - gorgeous tulips, very not-funeral like! Even several teachers reached out to me! One sent me a written note wishing me well. Two reiterated that they wished they lived here because they would vote for me! They understood that I mean well and have good ideas.
How much people love me! Little me!!!! Maybe I didn't get the most votes, but some votes simply count more than others! No, I didn't make it on the BOE - but my meek voice got a bit stronger.