Best Campaign

Campaigning for office taught me that the fun is in the running.

By Max Alexander | from "Man Bites Log"

Running for Office

If you should ever wake up on a fine spring morning and discover that one of the largest road-building companies in America thinks that 56 acres of your little town would be an excellent site for a granite quarry with a rock-crushing operation and two manufacturing plants — one for concrete and one for asphalt — here is what you must do.

First, you must listen carefully to the phoebes, vireos and grosbeaks in your oak tree. You may never hear them again.

Then you must join a nonprofit opposition group. I am not a joiner by inclination, typically finding a way to distance myself even from causes that merit participation. Though I don’t consider myself antisocial, I’m perfectly happy working alone at home for days on end. I don’t say this with pride; I strive to open more doors in my life. In this case, opportunity just came knocking.

A naive back-to-the-lander, who had brought his family from New York City to rural Maine wanting nothing more than a patch of dirt to call his own, I was transformed into an unlikely activist, defender of community rights — and finally, candidate for public office. I was running for third selectman. The election was to take place on March 28, 2003, and I began campaigning in late February.

My town has roughly 1,100 registered voters. About a third of them vote. After living here four years, I figured I personally knew about 100 people. It would be hard to imagine folks in my town voting for a candidate they’d never met, so I needed to get out and knock on doors. Every Saturday I drove around town, visiting voters and distributing fliers that spelled out my platform: “A progressive candidate who favors thoughtful planning that allows for traditional land use while protecting the community and the environment from unrestrained development.

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