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Claude-Emile Schuffenecker:
Study for "Landscape with Figure and Houses" (c. 1891)

" … precisely what she's so confidently projected …"

The Muse figures that, based upon remaining ballots and her win rate so far, once the final ballot count finishes, she will have garnered 8,126 votes, precisely the number she projected she'd need to win before she even began her campaign.

In April, The Muse roused me from whatever more critical activity I was doing to sequester me in the largely unused front upstairs room.
We covered one wall with butcher paper and drew a crude timeline ending on November 7, seven months from then.

We divided that timeline into segments using Systems Thinking techniques we'd employed for decades.

We produced a first draft plan that remarkably served as the backbone of the whole campaign, changing little from beginning to end.

We labeled the first part "Introducing The Candidate" and set about announcing intentions. Filing was just the first of innumerable audacious acts. There would be many to come.

The Introducing portion of the campaign would end on the Fourth of July when The Muse and I would erect a tent in the park, and she would call out to passersby, handing out fliers and making friends. It was like she was fly fishing for votes, casting and reeling them in. One observer remarked that anyone who spoke with her would feel compelled to vote for her. Her's was the most remarkable retail politicking performance I'd ever witnessed.

She mustered a team before she even filed, gathering them around the kitchen table to seek their advice and counsel, asking if she should run and for their support. I voted against.

She attended every Port meeting scheduled from before the start of her campaign, behaving as if she belonged there even when she felt she didn't. Her opponent, whom she refused to refer to as her opponent, attended a few meetings but never asked any interesting questions. She was the most remarkably invisible candidate, thank Heavens.

She maintained a weekly campaign team meeting, even when nothing particular was happening. She relied upon her team's advice, even the advice she wisely ignored, and they were remarkable for the connections they brought to that table. She stayed at most about two degrees of separation from everyone she needed to know to get elected. That meeting provided the rhythm for the whole campaign.

She conscripted me as her campaign manager. I thought that the worst decision she made during the whole campaign, though I did help maintain the rhythm and create the meeting agendas. I promised to follow up on more than I ever followed up on, though.

The turning point we'd recognized in that initial planning came at the end of August, The Fair and Parade, where the campaign planned a significant presence with a booth in the main pavilion and a contingent marching with a banner up Main Street. The Gods smiled down upon us, positioning us in perhaps the most visible booth in the whole building. Others were placed next to graphic displays of aborted fetuses and such or hidden in suffocating corners. We were a motley marching unit, but effective, spread out almost a block at some points as our candidate stopped to shake hands and chat.

We had somebody in that booth every minute that fair was open, from ten every morning until eleven at night, five days running. We lived on turkey legs and aspiration.

When canvassing time came, I reluctantly volunteered without knowing it would become my delight and obsession. I loved walking neighborhoods, snooping on people's porches, dropping literature, and sharing stories. I encountered no uncivil citizen in the seventy-some miles I trudged.

The night the votes came in, The Muse and I invited those who'd volunteered so much toward the campaign's success for a stand-up supper. We gathered in The Villa's expansive living room, lightly lubricated, waiting for the votes to come. When the first count came in, the candidate sat center stage with her laptop open to the county auditor's page. It spelled win, and not an insignificant one, at sixty-some percent of the ballots counted. The room erupted!

We retreated from the drama to spend a few days just as far away as we could muster in New York City. We returned to find Autumn fully engaged and the next to-final count finally posting. That's when our candidate, now Port Commissioner Elect, confidently predicted that her vote count would be precisely what she'd so confidently projected during that first planning session last April: 8,126.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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