I received the following email from a resident on Bataan. With his permission, here is the exchange we had yesterday afternoon.
I have been a Woodson Terrace resident for 11 years. Until recently, I have only considered state and federal level elections to be of any importance. I no longer feel this way. I now see the importance having a competent group of leaders right here in our own community. It's for this reason that I've begun research for the upcoming election in Woodson Terrace. I would appreciate it if you would take the time to answer the following questions to help me make a decision.
Where on the political spectrum would you consider yourself?
What is the role of municipal government in the lives of residents?
Which of the Founding Fathers of our country is your favorite and why?
Thanks in advance for your response."
Here was my response:
"I believe that all politics start local. I applaud you for doing your homework. I’m happy to answer your questions.
On the political spectrum, I’m a moderate. I have voted for candidates from both of the major political parties. Heck, I even thought about voting for Ross Perot back in 1992! Another fun fact, my husband and I voted for opposing presidential candidates back in 2000, so you can count on me to always base my vote on the facts and the platform as I see them. Great ideas don’t come from just one idealogy. And this is a non-partisan election… filling a pot hole doesn’t matter if you’re a Republican or a Democrat, somebody do it!
I’m a big fan of Cory Booker, Mayor of Newark. We’ve been following his political career since 2002. His work is an inspiration. He’s a role model for all of us. I read everything about him that I can get my hands on. What he’s done with that city is a testament to “Yes, we can.”
To answer your second question, municipal government is the closest level of government to the people. Me and you. Your family, my family, our neighbors and friends. This is where every day life happens. This is where you keep your most prized possessions, where you eat your breakfast and dinner, and this is where you lay your head at night. The role of the municipal government affects so much of our day-to-day, and we should ask these questions. Are the streets plowed when it snows so our residents can get to work? Is the trash being picked up? Do the police have a presence and are their efforts visible? Are the streets and parks well lit? Is it safe to walk to the store? Was that pot hole fixed? Did the mayor / alderman / chief of police call that concerned resident or even go by to make a home visit? Are the houses kept up to code? Is there routine communication going on between our elected officials and the residents? This is as real as it gets.
Municipal government is not going to solve the big problems that face our entire nation, like health care, the war, illegal drugs, immigration, public education, the bailout. But the things I think are most important about municipal government are accessibility, honesty, and partnership. Sometimes you win because you're honest, sometimes you lose because you're honest. The important thing is to remember to be honest.
Your last question, hands down, Benjamin Franklin! He was a rock star! The reasons why are numerous, but off the top of my head, he was an inventor, a writer, a scientist. He thought up public libraries, the Thirteen Virtues, Poor Richard’s Almanac. He was a wealthy man, and didn’t need to get involved with the government, but he did. He was the original connector, and totally influential. This is a good reminder for me to re-read his autobiography.
Thank you for the email. Any other questions, please let me know.
And here was his reply:
"Thanks for your quick response. I appreciate you taking the time to get back to me. I know this is a non-partisan election but I know many who seek public office have an "agenda" and I like to be aware up front. I also like to make sure that my local politicians aren't out to make a bunch of new laws that are "for my own good." Those who have been elected to represent me work for me and I can't respect any representative who thinks they know what's best for me and my family. Benjamin Franklin is my favorite Founder as well and for many of the same reasons you listed. Thank you again and you may repost my email if you wish."