A Take On Making A Run For City Council. Lebanon, Elon, And The Ukraine.
Many of my guest writers have offered up their take on various topics including the Middle East, the bond market, the use of energy, sports journalism, the corporate events industry and many others. This week, our guest writer covers a subject that I stay away from: politics. My friend and associate J.H., with no political background or experience, made a run at a city council seat in the north Atlanta area. Here is his take on making that run for office:
In Life There Is Either a Sideline or a Field of Play
Two years ago, I chose to leave a twenty-five-year career as Chief Revenue Officer for three Fortune 500 companies. My primary role was leading national sales and customer support teams in the telecom and supply chain industries. During the first 12-18 months I polished up on my golf game, began a consistent workout regimen and adapted to the Coronavirus life style. However, all along this journey, something was missing. It became apparent to me that I was missing a PURPOSE. Finding PURPOSE for me is not easy. In fact, it is a struggle. As a result, I decided to simply step off the sidelines and search for a number of potential opportunities…What is the worst that could possibly happen?
One night at a city summer concert, I left the sidelines and stepped onto the field of play. Although having no prior relationship with our city mayor, I took the opportunity to walk up and introduce myself to him. Since he was a two-term mayor running for re-election, I offered my time/talent and treasure. As a result, I soon found myself actively participating as a member of the mayor’s campaign re-election team.
My relationship with the mayor developed rapidly, where upon he asked if I would consider running as a city council member. Not fully realizing what it would take to defeat a two-term incumbent council member running for re-election, I allowed myself 24 hours to contemplate and simply said…Yes.
That night I woke up at 2AM realizing the ramifications of my decision. I had no political experience, a limited social network, no marketing resources, limited social media presence and by the way, it would take at least $20K in funds to run a campaign of any relevance. The uncomfortable realization of stepping off the sideline and onto the field of play hit me like a ton a bricks! I was forced to get out of my comfort zone, use my God-given abilities, and quickly put a game plan together.
Since running a campaign was foreign to me, the need to find a campaign manager was essential. I needed a campaign manager willing to coach me in the field of play. After conducting three interviews…I found the coach!
Time was of the essence; we developed a game plan:
- Created a website, email, Facebook, and Instagram accounts.
- Developed campaign messaging:
a. Keep us safe
b. Preserve our neighborhoods
c. Hold the line on taxes
d. Planning our traffic wisely
- Ordering 250-yard signs with distinct colors and branding
- 3000 campaign brochures
- Text messaging
- Two campaign mailers to likely voters
- Newspaper ads and interviews
- Recruited 7 active volunteers for phone calling and neighborhood door knocking
- Garnered resident voting lists with names, addresses and phone numbers
- Solicited donations and self-funded campaign expenses.
GAME TIME (PURPOSE)
My opponent utilized his existing network and social media presence to simply ask his supporters: “Who is willing to place a campaign sign in their yard?” He did not have the need to conduct an active ground game. I on the other hand, I had no choice but to hit the streets. My strategy was to take my campaign messaging to the residents to create awareness and support. Each day, my wife would collect street names and likely voters to call on. Each day we would call on ~75 residences. My wife would drive up to a house, I would get out, usually walk a long driveway to knock on a door and voice my 30-second campaign pitch and messaging on why they should vote for me. Oh yes…I was selling. This pattern went on for weeks. In the end, together we had knocked on over 1800 doors, placed 200-yard signs and collected resident concerns. Some days the temperature was stifling. Those days were quickly overcome by meeting and having discussion with so many good people. It was not about right or left politics, it was about local, state and sometimes national issues. I found it amazing by meeting a resident for the first time and transitioning my pitch into meaningful conversations. I just wish our state and national politicians would conduct themselves accordingly.
I will never forget one memorable conversation with a local resident. It was one of those high humidity, stifling afternoons. I walked up to a large single story ranch home. An elderly woman with white cropped hair and piercing beautiful blue eyes answered the door. I estimated she was between 71-74 years old. As I completed my campaign pitch, perspiration rolled across my face. The lovely woman realized my discomfort as asked if I would like a cold drink. I thanked her, but pointed to my wife and indicated there is water in our car. She asked “How long have you been married”. I proudly responded, “forty years.” She responded, “Oh that is nothing, my husband and I have been married for 68 years.” She leaned toward me and with those piercing beautiful blue eyes and said, “Do you know the secret of our marriage?The secret is, I have never uttered the word divorce…BUT……I thought the word MURDER many times.” I nearly fell over with laughter.
FOURTH QUARTER (2 Minute Warning)
My campaign did get in the red zone on election night. But unfortunately, we did not cross the goal line. Of course, I was disappointed with the election result. But I have no regrets leaving the sidelines and stepping onto the field of play. It was an enjoyable, purpose-filled experience that I will never forget. The campaign represented a single game. As we all know life is a season of many games. As a result, I have continued the pursuit of purpose with the Wounded Warriors volunteerism, a healthcare startup company, and political action organizations.
Is now the time for you to get in the game? Come on in…the water is warm!
My Takes For The Week
- Are space flights with the likes of Blue Origin and SpaceX becoming a ho-hum event? I hope not as yesterday’s NS-19 flight and landing was fantastic. What these private space exploration entities are doing is remarkable.
- Speaking of space, here is the headline of the week: Devastating solar storm spotted in nearby star system could be a warning sign for life on Earth. No, this was not reported by the New York Post or the Drudge Report.
- What exactly is a ‘diplomatic boycott’ of the Beijing Olympics will it overshadow the actual athletic competition?
- T-minus thirteen days to Christmas and 19 days to start a New Year. 2021 was challenging but way better than 2020. Let us all hope that 2022 is great.
- Why have entities or countries not stepped up to assist Lebanon with their very serious economic crisis? Is the World Bank and International Monetary Fund not in place to assist nations in despair?
- Elon Musk says he may quit his everyday job. Yawn.
- Is there a new definition of democracy someone forgot to tell me about?
- What is the betting line on Russian troops crossing into the Ukraine?
- There is a good bit of discussion surrounding a four-day work week. Will companies in the United States adapt to this movement?
- Prayers to all who were devastated by Friday night’s tornadoes and storms. So sad. There has to be a better solution to early warning systems for tornadoes.
- I leave today’s post with something to contemplate. With all due respect: