Tuesday, February 12, 2013

It's called "talking to potential constituents," not "wasting your time."

A few days ago I happened to meet an elected official from another community. I mentioned my campaign and he asked if I'd acquired a list of likely voters from my district yet. I haven't, and I'm not planning on it. I don't really need the list because I'm planning on talking to everyone, not just "likely voters."

This strategy isn't exactly common practice, and my new friend was incensed by it. He told me I'm going to "waste my time" talking to people who don't usually vote, and that if I "wanted to win" I'd forget about them and pursue the low-hanging fruit of people who typically vote.

That strategy is pretty common practice in electoral politics, but there's a very simple problem with it for me: I'm running for alderman to represent my entire district, not just the likely voters.

This isn't the first time I've caught someone by surprise with the fact that my plan to get elected doesn't involve taking the shortest possible path. I'd like to represent everyone as a member of the council and I'm planning on talking to everyone that will listen about it, whether they vote in every election or they've never voted before. I'm hoping a sideeffect of my campaign will be a significant collection of new Appleton voters, people who have never been asked to vote in a city race before but are joining the conversation about the city's future for the first time.

There's a significant difference between taking the easiest path to get elected and running to lead. I'm committed to the latter, and I wish more elected officials would follow suit.

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