Over the last few days I’ve gotten very frustrated with the system, so rather than get mad I think I’m going to not let good writing go to waste. More on that in a few paragraphs, but allow me the license to tell you a few reasons why I’m in such a way these days.
Here in my Laurel School District, we have an election for the one seat available on the school board this year. The two candidates are a lady who’s seeking her third term on the board and a gentleman who I’m guessing is a political newcomer, and very possibly may have ideas that can shake up the status quo his opponent would presumably maintain considering she’s the president of the board and seeking yet another five years running our public schools.
The interesting thing, though, is that Linda Hitchens, the lady in question, has run unopposed her first two times through in 2012 and 2017; thus, there was no actual election those years. So one would think that she would be easier to contend with because she’s never run a real campaign to keep her seat – once the filing deadline in her previous two tries passed with no opponent, the seat was hers by acclamation. However, she’s amassed the campaign money to pepper the district with signs in front of houses on the east end of the district near where she lives (and by the dentist office I went to Friday – no cavities!) There’s not much on my more rural end of the district, though.
So it’s very frustrating to me that, as a first-time candidate who has no name recognition in the district, that Joe Kelley – insofar as a search of the dreadfully inefficient Delaware state campaign finance website has shown – doesn’t even have a campaign finance account set up.
(As an aside, I can’t figure out why Delaware’s campaign finance system is so difficult while Maryland’s is very straightforward, when they use the same platform.)
Even more so, when Joe has the free opportunity to expound on his platform thanks to the Delaware Independent website, he doesn’t respond. Is he going to do the same to the Laurel Star newspaper if they come calling? I may not like the status quo – and you can’t get much more status quo than the board president – but if I’m not presented with a good alternative why should I even bother to vote? At that point, just having the votes of the people with signs is massive overkill for Hitchens, since I bet I saw 5o of them in driving around.
And then we have the case of one Christopher Hill, who is supposedly running for Congress as a Republican in the same primary as perennial candidate Lee Murphy. The only reason I knew this, though, was because I stumbled across Hill’s FEC filing on their website doing research for my election sidebar, which led me to find his own campaign website that I link to. But even the state Republican Party refers to him as “Chris Hall.” (Maybe they’ll change it after they read this.)
This came to mind because of a bizarre incident. A couple weeks back I received a text that went like this: “Hi Mike, Christopher Hill here. If you have a chance, give me a call about the race. (phone number.)”
This came on a late Sunday afternoon; in fact, I was at a Shorebirds game. So I couldn’t get back to him that evening; as it turned out it took a few days. But once I got back to Christopher via text I realized it was probably a case of mistaken identity since he said, “all I need is Smith’s cell number,” which I don’t know. So he apologized. (Then again, I should ask how he got my cell number.)
But if you look at Hill’s efforts thus far, you find a off-the-shelf Wix website he occasionally updates but no social media. If he thinks he’s going to beat Lee Murphy (let alone knock off LBR in November) with a campaign run from a website, well, life doesn’t work that way. Perhaps Hill believes he can make the rounds of various festivals and fairs this summer, such as the Delaware State Fair, but the groundwork should have been laid several months ago.
Now I don’t want to sound overly critical, but I believe there are a number of people who get into politics rashly. For example, right now at the top of Hill’s website in something like 72-point font is “Day 1: Drafting an article of impeachment against Biden for allowing the states of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona to be invaded by illegal aliens.” A lot of people may agree – and, let me tell you, it’s more than those three states thanks to Joe Biden’s overnight air shuttle service – but that accounts for one day. And did he have to make this into a rant at the front of your campaign website? Is this a blog or a campaign he’s running?
In the case of Joe Kelley and our local school board, he filed for the job first but had to know that Linda would be running again. Did he plan for that likely occurrence?
Obviously, there are cases where circumstances get in the way of a campaign but there are too many times where I see people with good ideas about government crushed down by a system stacked against them. But then again, there are rules out there that all sides have to contend with so the playing field becomes more level. Somewhere in the past, all those people in the system were once neophyte candidates themselves but they figured out how to get into the clique. And that leads me to the idea of good writing not going to waste.
This was sort of a rash decision somewhat in the vein of running for office, but then again I’ve been there and done that several times in Ohio and Maryland. And if I cared to right here, I could tell you in several paragraphs about the exhaustive differences between those two situations which led me to essentially the same party office, but on a varying scale.
Long story short: after the 2020 election I hatched an idea that for awhile was going to be another book, and could yet end up being so after all once I blow the dust off of it.
I had set up five “how-to” main points, and had written out in draft form an introduction and lead-ins to a couple of these chapters. The reason I stopped was because I was in a quardry whether to write it straight up, or make it sort of a narrative that followed Joe Sixpack on his race to become mayor of his town – or did that sound too hokey? But the burning passion faded as other things took precedence so I haven’t worked on this project since the tail end of 2020.
Honestly I don’t know if this project will ever become a book, but in seeing how some of these nascent local campaigns are going I think it’s time to share what little expertise and observation I have and put up some of these ideas as blog posts. If I get enough of a positive reaction and more expert input – which was also part of the plan, but I hate asking for anything – maybe I can go forward with the project after all. (It’s not just 5:00 somewhere, there’s also an election somewhere.) Perhaps you can think of the next two to three blog posts as a lengthy book proposal, but over the next few days I’ll do some editing and drop these on you as a series of posts and see what reaction I get.
There was a reason I started writing all that back at the end of 2020, and I have to remember that everything occurs in the Lord’s time, doesn’t it?
Update 4/24: I did find a questionnaire Kelley filled out, from the League of Women Voters, so now I have a little bit of an idea where he stands. Most of my point still remains, though.