(Host) Commentator Edith Hunter reflects on dogs, swing-sets and campaigning door to door.
(Hunter) This year I volunteered to drive a candidate friend one afternoon a week, as he campaigned door to door. I have to confess that when we pulled up to a house, I was awfully glad that it was he and not I who had to get out and knock on the door. I ran for representative from Weathersfield one year myself, and lost overwhelmingly.
Regularly, after my friend climbed back into the car, I would eagerly ask: “How’d it go?” He had a wonderful attitude. He said that whether he wins or loses, running for office has been a great experience, especially the door to door campaigning. Sometimes he gave me verbatim the responses he had gotten. More than once it was: “I don’t vote! Never have and never will,” or “What party? Oh! I don’t vote for them,” or occasionally someone would say, “Oh, I’ve already read your leaflet and I like what you have to say. You can count on my vote.”
Several things have impressed me as I reflect back on the experience. One is how many parts of town have been developed since I campaigned. Much of the growth is “back in the woods,” out of sight. It seems to me that our town plan and zoning that seek to keep Weathersfield rural are working very well. Another phenomenon is the absence of children out playing. Often there are trampolines, swing sets, slides, but no children using them. And the number of vehicles parked outside – two cars, a truck, boat, snowmobile – is mind-boggling. We are indeed a gas-guzzling nation. The number of dogs is also amazing. The year I ran, I was urged to take along dog biscuits as pacifiers. My friend just brought along his friendly attitude, evaluated the animals, and acted accordingly. And, although the areas of town into which we have been going are very rural, I have been amazed at how few people have backyard vegetable gardens.
Like most candidates, my friend became a notary so he could sign up voters. There are a significant number of new people in town. It was a real service to them to be able to register at home. New since my day was the option of supplying voters with applications for absentee ballots. I’ve been a justice of the peace for 15 years and I’ve seen our voting list grow from 1,000 to close to 2,000. As I work at the polls on Election Day, I can’t tell of course which voters were inspired to vote because candidates visited them, but I’m willing to wager there are quite a few.
Although people bemoan the fact that participation is down, I congratulate all the candidates who went door to door to remind their fellow citizens that democracy depends on the participation of everyone of us. Be sure to do your part today and vote.
This is Edith Hunter on the Center Road.
Writer and historian Edith Hunter lives in Weathersfield Center, Vermont.