Op-Ed: Takeaways from My (Brief) Foray…
On December 12, I submitted paperwork to be a candidate in the upcoming City Council election and on January 4, I withdrew my name from consideration. Both decisions were an aggregate of inspirations, hopes and fears. Simply put, I entered the race because I thought I had ideas and a problem-solving process that could be assets on the Council.
I reversed the decision for more complicated reasons, some personal, but substantially, because I was about to ask people to sacrifice time and money for a cause that did not have a great chance of success. Work became so demanding that I could not give the campaign a 100% effort; asking others to do so was no longer an option. On a personal level, it was scary and exciting to start; painful, but a relief to withdraw. I value perseverance and loyalty, and felt I was abandoning both. Our awesome little team of supporters has been kind and wise about the whole thing and, though we only just got started, I will be forever grateful to them and, frankly, amazed by how much they know and were willing to share.
If there is a record of these things, let me add to it that nobody solicited me to run. Over time, one or two individuals, none associated with the city, had told me ‘you’re such a bloviator, you should run for City Council’ but that’s the extent of it. No plots, no intrigue.
I do have a couple of takeaways from the experience that I thought could be useful:
1. It is about others and their aspirations. Not just in the job, but immediately, as a candidate. It surprised me how much and how fast that manifested. Treat that with care. Listen a lot.
2. Ranked-Choice Voting. There were four of us vying for one job, and 26% of the vote could have won it. How would the wishes of the remaining 74% be represented? RCV has proved out in high-profile contests recently in Alaska, Maine, and elsewhere to give more voice to more popular candidates in a multi-candidate race. Sounds sort of obvious, right?
Any voting system that lets the people choose their government could be called ‘democratic’ but they’re not all equal at reflecting the will of the majority. Our ‘first past the post’ process is particularly bad when there are more than two choices (imagine five or 10) and can award disproportionate power to small fringe elements (something similar is happening in US House of Reps as I write this). RCV addresses these failures with a common-sense formula. I encourage Gulfport to check it out and consider a test in future elections.