I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Sixteen Months Part 3

"Shark-fin" Billboard on the campaign mobile

Running for office is an unusual experience—that’s probably why more people don’t do it.  It has its ups and downs, and it takes a lot of effort to be successful.  It takes a lot of effort even for those who are not successful.  It is a huge sacrifice for a candidate and his/her family.  Suddenly everything revolves around the race once one is an announced candidate.  It is stressful, it is lonely at times, and it is all-consuming.

But there are a lot of things to like as well.

One of the things I like about campaigning for office is the fact that it takes creative thinking.  It takes intelligent strategy combined with experience, a message, and hopefully a good bit of money.  And creativity is important.  Designing a mailer, designing a palm card, deciding what to put on a 

campaign website, deciding which pictures to use in which media.  Much of the campaign requires creativity—and I think this is one of the things I like most about running for office in general and this race in particular.

For the last fourteen months I have been running for the position of County Commissioner in District 1.  I know this district well, as I have represented this district as their school board member for nearly a decade.  Some might perceive this school board experience as a plus, while others look at me like I’m some sort of “career politician.”  I can assure you-I’m not that. 

But I do know the district well, so when I decided to put my name in the hat and run for county commissioner, I knew which neighborhoods I wanted to walk first, and I knew I had to raise a lot of money in addition to pounding the pavement to meet voters.

Within the first several months of this campaign, I managed to amass about $35,000 dollars in contributions—which surprised even me.  In previous elections, I never had to raise even half of this amount.  By November, four months removed from my announcement that I would be a candidate for the race, not only had I amassed a sizable campaign account—but I had also personally visited over 2,000 houses door to door.

Part of the creative strategy I used for this race involved working with a team.  I teamed up with fellow candidates that were running for different offices in District 1 and we worked together.  We campaigned together, we worked neighborhoods together, we placed signs together, and we created a force multiplier by working as a team.  This strategy was powerful:  by mid-December, we had 50 large signs placed throughout district 1 and I had nearly 500 yard signs planted at district 1 houses.   For our large signs, we developed large signs that would have the campaign signs for all three candidates on both sides of the sign. 
Trifecta sign

  We named this design the “trifecta.”  When we drove through neighborhoods and around district 1, we used a SUV that had a billboard type sign on the top.   We called this the “Shark fin.”  It is and was an unusual way to campaign.   I had many people tell me I was crazy to campaign along with other candidates.  I had professional political types tell me it would cost me my election.  “What if they don’t like the people you’re teaming up with—you will lose votes!” several people said.  I believed then, and I’m more convinced now, that the benefits of working together with other candidates outweighed the negatives for me in this election.  I suppose I’ll know for sure on November 8th.  

But I know this:  There is no way I would have been able to place so many signs in so many yards so quickly were it not for the team I campaigned with.  So while it may have been somewhat unconventional,  working as a team in and of itself put each of us in a class all by ourselves;  all of the sudden, we were “those guys who are working together in their campaigns”  Yes it was a bit unusual, but it was also very effective.

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