Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,

My Yearly Brush with Democracy

It's just a one-block walk to my current polling station, which is cool. Yesterday the electricity went out as I was leaving my place and I was able to tell the election workers that the problem was not limited to their building but extended for a many-block radius and included traffic lights (causing a major accident at the corner of Portland and 31st within a minute of the power failure). We get regular power failures in my neighborhood because of the construction work on Lake Street. The Utilities people officially deny a connection, but the construction workers themselves admit to one.

Fortunately we don't yet have electronic voting machines where I live (I hope we never do) and I marked my ballot with a pen by the light of the window.

I'm not specifically involved in local politics, but this year there were personal connections galore to many of the candidates. Just two days previous I had been flirting outrageously at the Eagle with one of the candidates for the Library Board. A candidate for the Park Board is somebody I met swing dancing a couple of years ago. Another candidate is the relative of a friend of mine. I can't say I know the incumbent Minneapolis mayor to chat with, but I see him around all the time as he attends many civic functions in which I am involved (Pride Parade, Art-a-Whirl, various parades in which I march with the Police Band) and he is always friendly and accessible (not that I would have voted for him for this reason, although I admit that I enjoy the sight of him in his shorts dancing with a baton in front of the Freedom Band at Pride).

Because of redistricting, my city council ward had no incumbent and both candidates waged the most personal-contact door-knocking campaign I'd ever witnessed. Two days before election day, when I still wasn't entirely sure who I'd vote for, one of the candidates herself called me up to present her case. I was forced to admit that I'd read all the literature and for the life of me I couldn't figure out what the differences were between the candidates; they both seemed like lovely hard-working dedicated people. She stayed on the phone with me for 15 minutes. (It didn't help, in the long run, as I talked to folks with experience working with the candidates and came to my own conclusions.)

The best election news here in Minnesota may or may not have made the national news: The St. Paul mayoral race. Both candidates were Democrats, but the incumbent Mayor (Randy Kelly) had endorsed Bush in the last election, in a city in which not a single district went for Bush. He lost the election by a hugely surprising margin, even greater than the pre-election polls had predicted. My friends in St. Paul who follow these things tell me there are various reasons why he was voted out of office, mostly relating to his management style and inability to work well with the City Council, but the pollsters say that the unequivocal reason people gave for choosing his opponent was his support of Bush last year. The local newscasts use the word "punished" to note what the voters did here.

So for me it was a fairly interesting off-year election day.
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