By Mel Callan
Running for ofﬁce can be terrifying and exciting; exhausting and enjoyable; frustrating and educational; mixed emotions that wax and wane from moment to moment and day to day. But in the long run, it is well worth the experience and rewarding beyond expectations.
I ran for county legislature and state senate. Each election was an uphill battle in a Republican dominated town government, but, that did not sway me in the least. First, if we had never tried we would not have made the gains we have made thus far.
The numbers of registered Democrats is increasing while the number of registered Republicans is decreasing. There continues to be a sizable number of registered blanks (registered to vote without any party afﬁliation). We are slowly, but surely, gaining in interest and membership in our Penﬁeld Democratic Committee. We have extended a hand to local groups that experienced challenges in their interactions with the town government. Examples of that would be the Shadow Pines land sale and usage, and the surrounding neighborhood of Baker Commodities. We have raised issues during public participation at town board meetings, holding our elected ofﬁcials accountable. Second, in a democratic environment, it is essential that we provide choices of candidates for each ofﬁce so voters can fulﬁll their civic responsibility in educating themselves about the candidates and their platforms, and then, vote. Third, in these days of becoming more isolated with reliance on electronic communication, running for ofﬁce is an opportunity to become acquainted with neighbors and neighborhoods. Learn, laugh, agree and disagree; but, listen and then listen some more. Engaging with our fellow human beings that surround us on a daily basis, is a privileged reward. Fourth and ﬁnally, we owe our continued involvement to our children, grandchildren and all future generations. If they see us sit back and become unfeeling, uncaring and uninvolved, it can only contribute to the rising of power by those on the extreme fringes of society.
Running for ofﬁce costs money, and raising funds is the most distasteful, but necessary task. The good news is that friends and family can help, and often do. It requires passion and patience to go with the passion; also a willingness to listen and learn. Learn about all aspects of the constituency rather than just one issue. Running for ofﬁce takes time; usually months prior to election day. Immediate family support is essential. I was fortunate to have a husband and children who were encouraging, supportive (and a bit self reliant). It takes energy, emotional and physical – the good news here is you get a lot of exercise. Running for ofﬁce takes an organized team, some of whom have had campaign experience.
Win or lose, you gain so much more in friendships, knowledge, conﬁdence, awareness and ability to rest at night feeling good that you contributed to the Democracy we hold near and dear.