Thursday, March 26, 2009

Town Election Field Guide

'Tis the season for town elections in Massachusetts, the ones that will affect you tomorrow. That will decide your trash fee, pothole repair priority list, school quality, and hydrant placement. It is your patriotic duty to vote in your town election, whether you are one of 200 voters in your town, whether there are any contested offices in town.

To help with your vote, clip out this field guide to your local town election, fill in the appropriate names, and bring to the polls:

  • The Incumbent (name: __________ ) Has held current position for 5-10 years, surviving re-election 2-4 times. S/he has two children in the town school system, moved here when a child, and loves this town. S/he is a children's sport coach or dance instructor, and wears the appropriate jacket throughout campaign season. Takes credit for state largesse during a good economy, and for making "tough choices" during a bad economy. Likes to explain how neighboring towns are worse off than your town. Will retire soon because s/he is sick of answering questions from townies while trying to drop off laundry. Rumors abound of marital issues. Results: Re-elected handily.

  • The Townie (Name: ____________ ) Tries to win by out townie-ing the Incumbent. S/he was born in town, thank you very much, only back then that particular village had its own zip code...remember that? Has had four children graduate from the public school system. Owns a town business, or works for one. Is the chair of a youth sports league and wears that jacket every month except summer, at which point is organizing the Fourth of July parade. Goes to the high school football games -- home and away. Still doesn't shop in the neighboring town your high school plays on Thanksgiving. Spouse smiles gently, doesn't have much to say. Results: Loses, but will be elected when incumbent retires.

  • The Reformer (Name: ___________ ) Moved to town about 7 years ago from the area. Children have transferred into the public schools. If female, has long stylish hair; if male, has facial hair. Identified strongly with a particular issue, and often hands out leaflets advertising his/her positions at town meetings. Most organized campaigner of the field. and actually has precinct captains. Remarks and literature are laced with references to change and reform. Has several ideas on budget changes, priorities on spending, and constantly refers to other towns' experiences. Wears a collared shirt while campaigning. Results: Loses, moves out of town and joins an interest group.

  • The Nutcase (Name: _______________ ) Joined town politics due to a personal experience, and all actions are rooted in it. If he was denied a permit to build a shed, he wants to be on the Board of Selectmen and campaigns on zoning issues. If her son slacked off in school, she's running for school committee and campaigns on student support. Usually, the run for office is the capstone to a two- or three-year nutcase career which included founding a floundering organization, awkward rants at town meeting. and a series of letters to the townie paper. Often wide-eyed while speaking. Results: loses, eventually attracts police attention.

  • The Question Mark (Name: __________________ )
    Nobody is really sure why s/he is running. Gentle in personality, this candidate is from the town, but not of it. Nobody knows them by name, but can sorta identify the face from the supermarket or library. Usually seen with a slight smile, wearing sunglasses or a baseball cap. Doesn't say much and makes people nervous. During candidate night, s/he will give a quiet and very general list of reasons for running, but has few campaign signs or events. Likely unmarried. Results: loses, joins Conservation Committee.

  • The Go-getter (Name: ________________ ) Moved to town relatively recently, but thinks the schools are GREAT! Has joined the Kiwanas, Lions, Freemasons, Little League, and Friends of the Library. Arrives late to meetings due to earlier meetings, often leaves early to go to later meetings. Rather thin. Often seen flipping pancakes or serving hot dogs. Usually has a high-income job but doesn't seem to spend much time on it. Salacious rumors about "what happened to [candidate] in their old town" circulate. The only candidate who will accost you at the post office and ask which way you're leaning. Results: loses, elected as your state rep ten years later.

At least, those are candidate types native to southeastern Massachusetts. What do you see in your neck of the woods?

1 comment:

liveandletlive said...

This is hilarious, I'm going to our
"Candidate's Night" tonight. I should print this out and bring it with me.