This week, the Latah County Democrats held their campaign kick off party. It was a rah rah event for those of us uncontested in our primary races, and a celebration for the statewide candidates that won theirs. There was food, donated drinks, a threatening storm, and good music. It was a chance to practice our 2 minute (with a timer) stump speeches in front of a friendly crowd and to get to know those folks who will be running alongside of us for the next 6 months. It also marked for me when I needed to switch from learning what a county commissioner does, to sharing what I know, and embarking on my campaign plan.
Back in the cold of winter, I went to a couple of candidate trainings. We learned how to write 2 minute stump speeches, compose print materials, and how to share our thoughts and events in social media. The focus was on brevity. "Keep it short," "make it pop," "have a catchy slogan." In my first forum, I had 30 seconds to introduce myself, and 1 minute to answer questions regarding issues the audience was passionate about. As I embark on this season of parades and door knocking, the brevity becomes even more important. 15 seconds for a parade introduction. Maximum of 3 minutes at a house IF you can door knock 50 homes in the 2.5 hours between work and bedtime for most families. In order to win my race for county commissioner in the underdog party, I need to have meaningful face to face conversations with at least 5000 registered voters in Latah County and convince them to vote for me. Brief is good when you are trying to engage a large number of people with a limited amount of time.
Brief is NOT good when it comes to talking about political issues that folks are passionate about. In my 30 + years as a pediatric physical therapist, I have spent countless hours helping families and school teams solve complex problems. Those problems don't get solved in 2 minutes, in a 1 hour meeting, or even in the duration of 3 years of early intervention. Sometimes there is no exact solution, but a compromise arrived at after years of gathering knowledge, and trying things, and failing. It takes engaged listening, time for thought, and a willingness to throw out any preconceived agenda.
My brief campaign slogan is "Listening to Latah." I mean that. I WANT to encourage open communication, engagement, and involvement in the political process. I want in depth conversations about issues such as land use, economic development, partisan politics, poverty, education, community safety, and quality health care. I know they are complex issues. I know I can't solve them by myself. I know they will take time. I know there is always something new to learn. I also know that if we work together as a team we may arrive at a compromise or solution that most of us can live and thrive with.
So, if I see you on the campaign trail, I promise to keep it brief. I'll stay within my timelines for stump speeches and parade introductions. I will not let your dinner get cold if I knock on your door, and I won't be offended if you close the curtains and ignore the doorbell. I’m embarking on this blog so we don't have to be brief. I will share my thoughts about complex issues. I want to hear from you so we can start the dialogue that will last for the duration of my role as your county commissioner.