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Running for Town Office

Running for Town Office
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Jud’s New England Journal
For September 2010

Welcome to the September 2010 edition of
“Jud’s New England Journal,” the rather
curious monthly musings of Judson Hale,
editor-in-chief of Yankee Magazine,
published since 1935 in Dublin, New Hampshire.

Running for Town Office

The late Vrest Orton, founder of the Vermont Country Store, had two words of advice: “Go slowly.”

“I wish that some of the newcomers from metropolitan centers who just love our rural ways,” Vrest said to me years ago, warming up to the subject, “would, if they arrive on Monday, wait until at least Friday before they start running for office and telling us how to run the town.”

My own feeling is that it’s impossible to explain this adequately to a newcomer if said newcomer doesn’t have the natural instinct to feel it.

“But I’m only running for the Board of Selectmen because I want to show my new neighbors that this town means something to me. I know I can improve things for everyone. Why does it matter how long I’ve been here?”

Those were pretty much the exact words of a capable, hard-working friend of mine who had just moved down the street from me from a city in New York State. And despite my urgent appeals that he be patient and wait a few years before running for the town’s top job, he continued campaigning – sending out letters to every resident in which he explained his opinions and made suggestions for town improvements, printing and handing out bumper stickers, buying space in the local paper, and calling upon each and every voter in town. He received a friendly reception wherever he went, and the night before the election, he told me he was confident he was going to win.

“I’ve been through every name on the checklist,” he said, “and my ‘definite yeses’ alone will put me over the top – even without some of the ‘maybes.’ “

On election day, I believe he received three votes. Maybe it was four. Even I didn’t vote for him. His opponent, not incidentally, had done absolutely nothing during the campaign except to sign his name, verifying that he would serve if elected.

Go slowly. Good advice.

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Running for Town Office

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