Wednesday, November 09, 2005

When underdogs have their day (Election Day 2005 - Local Elections)

What a day.

When I was out walking the ward with my friend Deena Beard last weekend, I was picking up a good vibe. We knew she had a good base of support in both of her precincts, but we were getting a very positive response at the doorsteps of our neighbors. Especially reassuring were signs of support from a number of Republican households. I've always felt that Deena was a great candidate--poised and hard-working. I was behind her on the issues. But it was always great to watch her interact with neighbors at the front door. She knows when to listen and when to speak. I learned something every day.

I knew things were going well when a voter called Deena and asked us to replace their yard sign for her opponent with one of ours.

We worked election day like crazy. (Actually, a whole bunch of people worked like crazy well before election day.) I wouldn't exactly say we were organized to an extreme measure, but we had a big team of grass roots supporters; Team Deena was not going to lose for a lack of hustle....

It was tense sitting in as a watcher while we waited for the judge of elections to report the results. At the first machine, Deena was ahead by six votes. The absentee ballots split 4-3. Then the second machine was called. She'd taken her own precinct by almost 50 votes. Obviously, this was good, but the second precinct awaited, and it was twice as large. We drove down the road to the other site. There it was on the door: Lever A-13 had an advantage over lever B-13 of nearly 60 votes.

Final tally: Beard (D) 399; Hackett (R) 290.

I had thought we might win in the final days, but we thought it would be a squeaker. (Mind you, there is about a 5:2 ration of registered Republicans to Democrats in this ward.) A 16-point spread was outside the realm of my comprehension. I had to read the poster a couple times. We both flew home quickly to share the moment with our families. It was only when we arrived at the Democratic gathering afterwards that we found out something that I'm not sure we'd ever even thought about...

Board majority.

When the evening started, the Nether Providence Board had a 5-2 Republican majority. When it ended, it was a 4-3 advantage for the Democrats. Sallie Anderson had successfully defended Sara Petrosky's vacant 2nd Ward seat, as expected. But Lin Floyd had also taken the 4th Ward seat against the incumbent.

I'm so proud of my friends, and honored to have been able to help. But it's not just about the victory. Victories are milestones, but once you pass the milestone, the road is still in front of you. I'd been really concerned about the attitudes and directions the board has been taking the last few years...I'd never paid much attention to local politics, but now that I'm a property owner and parent, I'm paying more attention. That's why I chose to get active on the local level. (That, and my sense of responsibility after getting on my high horse with a really snarky letter to the local party chairman--sorry David!) I intend to live here a long time, and I want to make sure that my community is as good as it can be.

What I like most about this gang is that I believe they plan to work hard for the residents of Nether Providence. There is no county machine to curry favor with. This isn't much of a stepping stone to bigger things. They're a thoughtful and capable group. I expect them to serve their constituents well, just because that's what they signed up to do. They've got a lot of work ahead, and I wish them all well.

There's another part of this story that has to do with Bryan Lentz, who is running for Congress in the PA-7 next year against Weldon. More on that later.


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