Diary #10 in an on-going series documenting my run for City Council
Now that my daughter and son (15 and 13 respectively) are done with their school year, in the evenings (and as a family) we’ve been binge watching the NBC sitcom “Parks and Recreation” on Netflix. In fact, last night, we finished season 4 in which the main character Leslie Knope, assistant director to the fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana’s Parks & Rec department, is elected to City Council. The entire 4th season is dedicated to her campaign and the trials and tribulations thereof. If you’re politically minded or even just a little interested in local governance, the show is laugh out loud funny. I highly recommend it.
According to Wikipedia, the fictional population of Pawnee, IN is less than 81,000 which puts it at about the same size as Mountain View, CA, the city where I’m a candidate. To watch the show, you’ll notice the local election is like a mini national election, complete with daily polling, live TV interviews, and political ads on “every network,” etc. My daughter turned to me last night and said, “This isn’t like your campaign at all!” She was understating it considerably.
Locally, we have no polling data on which candidate is favored, although I’ve heard rumors that a corporation will be conducting one. Whether they decide to share that information with the rest of us is to be determined. Conducting a campaign poll is expensive. In Pawnee, they seemed to be polling constantly!
On the TV show, they actually had a live debate with the five candidates who were running, a-la what we saw during the presidential primaries. Here in Mountain View, there will be quite a few “neighborhood forums” where all the candidates sit in a row and take turns answering the same questions. Instead of being broadcast, we’ll be sitting in office buildings, churches and community centers. It’s likely that we will have 10-12 candidates for our 3 open seats, so at a 2 minute per question response time (with a 2 minute intro and a 1 minute wrap up/appeal per candidate), the entire field of questions will be at most, three! Of course they could surprise with a rapid response type question. I’ll save that discussion for a later time.
On the TV show, Candidate Knope had a campaign bus and a large campaign team devoted to nearly always be working on advancing her message. There will be no bus for the Rosenberg for Council campaign! There will also be no TV advertising, no attack ads in the paper etc. Here in Mountain View, we campaign the old fashioned way: walking door to door until your feet hurt. And then walking some more.
Last Thursday night, I held my campaign kick-off event / initial fundraiser. I held it in an audio/video store that is owned by former neighbors mine – right here in town. [I only say “right here in town” because, interestingly, one of my opponents held her kick-off event in a restaurant in a neighboring town. Odd choice, if you ask me.] Being the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Mountain View Chamber of Commerce, it was important to me to hold my event in a chamber member’s establishment. My campaign manager said that for a new candidate (i.e., someone who hasn’t run before) to expect about 30 people at the most. I had 44 people show up. Two former mayors introduced me and talked at length about the characteristics they think it takes to be not only a good candidate, but also a good council member and said I possess all of that that and more. It was flattering to say the least. Finally it was my turn. I have to say that I’ve been on the audience side of events like this for years. It is COMPLETELY different when you are the candidate. People listen to everything you say. There exists an obvious and palpable deference being paid to you. Everybody wants your time and no conversation is ever completed without being re-directed by someone or interrupted because you need to pay attention to something else. I am not used to this. And I have to learn to not talk like Citizen Ken, but to respond like Candidate Ken. I may write about that nuance in a future diary.
I’ll close my diary today by stating that even though there are presently 9 people who have filed their “intent” to run, the official window to become a candidate doesn’t open up until July 16 and closes August 8. At that point, the field will be defined and the real fun will begin. I am simultaneously excited and nervous. The candidates in this field are strong; some of them are very well financed and come with strong endorsements and thus have become formidable opponents. I think the only solace I can muster in this situation is that they think similarly of me.
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