Greg Habermann, my campaign manager, had a brilliant idea.. as he often does.
He thought it would be cool to blog my journey of becoming Mayor of Akron. He also thought that other people in our town might find this journey interesting. That future people whom might want to run for office might find this enlightening as well. Perhaps we could bring more new people into our electoral system and they could learn from my experiences.
This is the political journey of someone who knew next to nothing about the Akron electoral process going into it. I was just like most of you: I showed up on voting day to my assigned spot, stood in line, and cast the most educated vote that I could. Maybe this will help future candidates know how to proceed. Perhaps it will help you head off a few mistakes. Or maybe this will help the average everyday person in Akron understand what it means to run for city council, mayor, or beyond.
First, you should know that we decided to start this process on Tuesday at noon. It was a day and a half before our our petitions for mayor needed filed. We had absolutely no idea how this all works. With the quick departure of "the Don" (Mayor Don Plusquelic) and his fill-in, Moneypenny, we were forced to decide how to proceed with all of this in very short fashion.
A friend of mine said to look at the Summit County Board of Elections Website to find out when the filing deadline was and how many signatures I needed on my petitions.
She might have as well been speaking Latin to me. I guess I did know what a signature was. But that was about it.
We went to the Website to find out what we needed to know but the filing deadline section was blank. We looked and looked and looked but couldn't find anything online.
The only thing that was left was their phone number. I asked her if they were going to be mean to me. And if they'd think I was a moron for asking stupid questions. She said, "Probably."
That could not have been more wrong.
I called and they said I needed between 50-150 signatures to get on the ballot. The only catch was that they were closing at 4:30 today. It was 4:05. And the signatures needed to be in by 4:00 sharp the next day.
We went. My friend videoed it. It felt important. I was embarrassed.
Two guys stood across the desk with me and slowly, carefully explained the process to me. The greatest part was they made me feel like what I was doing was rational and legitimate.
That was day 1. The lesson of that day was anyone can and has the total right to run for political office. It is not for the elite, the rich, the well healed. America was created on the optimistic principle that the people are very capable of governing themselves. We don't need a monarch to rule us. That was a completely radical philosophy. Monarchies were the way things were when America began.
We continue to get people who try to convince us that there are only certain people who can run the government. That's old Europe thinking.
You can run for any damn office you want! Political "experience" is just code for them keeping the positions in the family. They don't want outsiders running. They want to keep control of the control.
Experience really means cronyism. And they try really hard to get the public to believe it.