Ever since I entered the political world, October has been a crazy month. I have been helping candidates in campaigns or running myself every year since 1992. (Plus, Barbara Keating for U.S. Senate in 1974 and Frank Garito for Mayor in 1975 as a kid). When you are in October of a campaign, your life is upside down. Any serious candidate is out there campaigning about 15 hours per day. I have accomplished some very difficult things in my life such as Marine Corps boot-camp, passing the bar exam and litigating trials, and the last month of a campaign ranks up there with those tough chores.
So first, let me remind anyone nice enough to read this post that we are very lucky to have so many committed and caring people out there working so hard to become elected officials. These candidates are a terrific tribute to our free and democratic society. The least the voters can do to honor them is to take the time to review all the candidates and vote on November 8. Throughout history around the world, millions have put their lives on the line for freedom and the right to vote, and regrettably, we will be lucky to see about 33% of the registered voters come out to vote in two weeks. If you do not vote, shame on you.
And when you vote, be open-minded. Please spend some time reviewing the campaign literature, check out the websites and vote for the best person. I am always shocked by the number of people that just vote the party line. Frankly, we can teach a child to just fill out all the boxes across a straight line. Even though I am an elected Republican official, I never vote a straight Republican ticket – I can always find at least one impressive Democrat to vote for. I believe that voting the straight ticket for your own party is a “dumbing down” of the electoral process.
Also, with two weeks to go, why don’t you call a campaign and volunteer? I guarantee it will be an interesting and rewarding experience. Contact me if you would like to volunteer.
This year, I am extremely lucky to be unopposed in my re-election campaign. I had an opponent for a couple of months, but he decided not to run. This is my 8th campaign for county legislator for District 11 in New Rochelle and Pelham. In our first legislative campaign back in 1997, we were not even sure we would win and could never have imagined that I would still be around for an 8th term.
I only survived all these elections (this is my 10th campaign!) because of the hundreds of people that worked on my campaigns. I often boast that I have the best supporters in the county because I truly believe it. Sadly, we lost my best campaign worker – my mom – a few years ago, but she is now up in heaven keeping an eye on us. My mom, my wife Jean and our friends built up an impressive campaign operation on our own, made up of Republicans, Democrats and independents. We always worked hard, always had fun and had the good fortune to win most of our races!
Unfortunately, half the candidates will not win on Election Day despite their commitment and diligence on the campaign trail. Please remember to thank both the winners and losers after the elections for making democracy work. Please also thank their families who had to put up with so much during the campaign.
Even though I am unopposed, I am still working hard to help elect several outstanding candidates that I think are currently or would be terrific public officials. One interesting thing to watch in the election returns is the composition of the Westchester Board of Legislators. There are some election analysts that believe the Republicans have a chance to take back the Board for the first time since the 1997. Since I have served on the Board for 14 years in the minority, this is an exciting opportunity, although a few of the Democratic legislators in close races are my friends, and I will miss them if they lose. However, that is our process and good people lose elections.
I believe one reason I survived so long in public life is that I always placed a priority on professional, independent and bipartisan service. I respect my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and try to work with them to govern, pass thoughtful legislation and make our county a better place to live. I certainly will continue to serve in this manner for my next two-year term. I am convinced most voters want elected officials to serve this way and are deeply troubled by the never-ending partisanship they see in Washington.
Good luck to all the candidates, their families, and the volunteers. And most importantly, get out to vote!