Saturday, November 17, 2007

Small Town Politics Are Big News And Technology Was There To Help!

In my New York Experience, I wrote on how my Mom made it her priority to vote for various candidates in our town board elections. These small town elections are more important sometimes than the Governor or Presidential election because they affect the voters directly. To give you an idea of how important these elections are, in the town of Schodack (pronounced sko-dak not show-dak - the second prnounciation always made my Dad laugh) the race for Schodack's town supervisor is still up in the air after an unprecedented write-in campaign from a challenger.

The Rensselaer County Board of Elections says it's never seen a write in campaign like this before -- more than 1,600 voters writing in the name of a single candidate. In fact, write-in candidate Ray Lemka took a 14-vote lead over incumbent Supervisor Beth Secor Thursday after the Rensselaer County Board of Elections re-canvassed voting machines in the town. Lemka, who had been trailing by more than 70 votes, now leads Secor by a count of 1,657 to 1,643, according to returns tabulated Thursday by the elections board in the historic campaign. Lemka says, "The people in our town are not happy and I'm doing it for them."

But on election day Lemka had no official party support. In fact, he wasn't even on the ballot. Lemka found himself in this situation after a judge ruled that the caucus in which Democrats selected him was invalid. He was thrown off the Democratic line and, he said, he was willing to give up. But he couldn't. Still - more than a thousand people entered the polls and wrote in his name. Actually, people wrote all over the inside of the voting booths because they couldn't find where to write in on the paper.

Even in small towns, the internet has incredible power. Part of the reason is that Lemka and his supporters set up a website. It gave voters step by step instructions on how to submit a write-in vote, even showing them to write his entire name out. "About three or four weeks ago we could see the ground swell. We knew we we're going to make history. If we win we're going to make even more history," Lemka said. "It was just an unbelievable effort. That many people, it was almost as if people went in with a stamp. It was that good of a job," he said.

In small towns such as this, these are not the seasoned politicians that we have out here in California. In fact, many of them have real jobs. One of the people in my hometowns board election is a local handyman who does painting for my Mom! These are ordinary people who care about their community and actually have some power. they decide taxes, roads and road maintenance, zoning and construction, service such as gas and cable TV and much more. And if you've got an issue, you just pick up the phone and give them a call. In most cases they answer. Try that in California!

I have no idea where he stands on the issues as it doesn't affect my hometown. But it does show thie importance of local politics. Lemka had spent weeks going door to door asking his neighbors to vote for him. People would open the door and say "you don't have to drop off any literature, we're going to vote for you."

Ray Lemka is proof, perhaps, that you can indeed teach an old dog new tricks. Now that's how life goes in the country!