Past elections have been swayed by party lines or town politicians being set in their ways. It used to be that you could say, "I'm running. You all know me. Vote for me," and that was enough to get you elected. The past few elections have proved that doesn't work any more. So here is my advice to all candidates for a successful campaign:
1. Start campaigning early. In the last Supervisor election the incumbent didn't visibly campaign until about two weeks before the election. No yard signs, no nothing. He lost by so few votes that you could credibly argue he would still be our supervisor if he had gotten out there sooner. The current supervisor did campaign. His signs were out there for everyone to see, and he told people what he stood for. He won. Then he did all the stuff he said he was going to do. Love him or hate him, he ran a good campaign, it paid off for him, and he followed through with his campaign platform.
2. That thing about telling people what you stand for -- it's important. If you want a fair election let voters know what you think the issues are and how you would address them. I'm not asking for a novel on the subject. But it does the Town no good service if the vote is based on what party you belong to when what you would actually do and believe in will affect people's lives so directly. If your vision for Lansing is close to mine I want to vote for you, and I don't care what party you belong to.
3. Tell us what you have done along the lines of what you are saying you would do if elected. That tells voters you might just do it again. Even if you haven't been an elected official before, tell voters what you did at work or in volunteer service, or anywhere else that shows what you will do if elected.
4. Participate in the Debate. Well, I hope there will be an actual debate, and I hope every single candidate participates, because that's a great consolidated way to get the issues out there and talk about how you would solve them. But even if there isn't there are many venues where you can reach out to voters. Last year a number of politicians including some who were running for State offices showed up at the Lansing Harbor Festival. Some had booths, some just walked around and introduced themselves to people.
5. Advertise in the Lansing Star. Yeah, yeah, I know... it's a special interest of mine. Hey, at least I don't bug people's cell phones to get the news! But seriously, the Star is Lansing's local newspaper, so it's a great place to reach out. Town Councilman Robert Cree says it's the thing to do to get elected -- he advertised when he ran, and he won. I'm not sure whether he says that with tongue in cheek, but the concept is sound. It's a way to reach voters who vote in Lansing. As with yard signs, the sooner the better.
Just saying 'I'm a good person, I've lived here forever, I'll get along with everyone and I know what Lansing needs' isn't enough any more. We all know how national candidates muck up elections with misleading attacks and sideshows that distract voters from actual issues. To me that is unpatriotic and disrespectful of the voting public. Tell me who you are, what you stand for, and what your record in office and/or in life is. Let me compare that to the resumés of your opponents. Let me decide who is the best fit for this stage of my town's development.
People in this community are smart, but they can only act on what they know. The more you help us to know about you, the better chance we have of getting the right government for people who live here now and for the future these people want. That's the American system at its best, and at least on the local level it is perfectly attainable if the candidates all agree to engage.