So, Fro, you’ve gone to all of this trouble to grab a domain and start writing about your campaign and all, and you’re not even on the ballot?
Yeah, that’s right.
Here’s how it goes. First step is to run down to the Knoxville Election Commission and pull a Candidate Qualifying Petition. You should probably have filled out the Appointment of Political Treasurer Form ahead of time and take it with you because you need to submit that as well. I did this on November 25, 2019. The people were super nice and helpful. They got me in and out of there really quickly. And when I walked out of their office I had the Candidate Qualifying Petition all filled out and ready to get signatures.
Yeah, signatures. It’s a petition, after all.
Turns out you need to get at least 25 signatures of registered voters from your district to sign your petition and turn it back in by noon (and not a minute later) on December 12, 2019. Even though only 25 signatures are required, they suggest you get 50-60 signatures. Seems the folks at the Election Commission are sticklers for all of the right info being included with these signatures and it’s not uncommon for something not to be included. And sometimes people will sign your petition and they’re not really in your district or a registered voter.
Well, Mr. Candidate (or so you say), how many signatures do you have so far?
Five. Five signatures. Not enough by a long shot, amirite? But, in my defense, this has been Thanksgiving weekend. And the weather hasn’t been super. Still, no excuses will be tolerated. I pledge to give regular (maybe even daily) updates, right here at this location, of my progress in getting the requisite number of petition signatures. You, dear reader, will be the first to know where I stand. Right after Susan, of course. I’m sure I’ll tell her first. And she’s going to be helping me get signatures, too, so there’s that.
Anyway, that’s it for today’s update. See you back here tomorrow.
For a big chunk of my adult life, I voted only by absentee ballot. I was in the military from 1986 to 1994 and then again from 1999 to 2012. While I may have missed some local elections, I never missed the federal elections every two years. So, for the most part, I never experienced a lot of races where candidates were running unopposed. Or maybe it just didn’t jump out at me if it did happen.
But since I’ve settled down in Knoxville, I’ve noticed multiple races where the candidates (almost always a Republican) would run without a Democratic or even an Independent opponent. I started down this path by just writing my own name into the spot where the Democratic candidate would go. And the ballot machines don’t make it easy to do that, believe me. I remember coming home after voting a few times and doing this write-in thing and remarking to my wife – Susan – that I should just go ahead and run in one of those races. I mean, if they were going to be blank anyway, a second name would give the voters some choice.
It took me until this summer to start to consider seriously doing something about it.
At this point in the story, a little background is in order. I have thought for a long time that women and minorities are underrepresented in politics. Since I was voting absentee for much of my adult life and since much of that time was pre-internet, I got into the habit of voting, if I knew nothing else about the race, for the woman over the man. Since politics has moved online in the last decade, I have tried to research the candidates before going to the polls, but if I didn’t get around to it or couldn’t find anything, my rule of thumb was to choose the woman over the man, all else being equal. While this rule generally ends up with a vote for the Democrat, there has been a time or two when I’ve voted for the Republican female candidate over the male Democratic candidate.
So, now I’ve got a son who’s a freshman at UT and a stepdaughter who’s in 5th grade (at Blue Grass Elementary). I think there’s a lesson in this for my son as he has just become old enough to vote (although he won’t be voting for me since he’ll be voting absentee in the Viriginia elections). But my stepdaughter lives with me and hears me talk about politics all the time. I think it’s important that she doesn’t just hear about the process of getting involved. Or about running for office if you think it’s important. It’s important that she sees it as well. Elizabeth Warren meets a lot of little girls on the campaign trail. And she always tells them that she’s running for President because that’s what girls do. I couldn’t agree more. So, another reason I’m running for political office is to show my kids (but especially my stepdaughter) that running for office is something that all people can do.
CHOICE – I’ve been in Knoxville for over 4 years. On past election days, I’ve been disappointed to see how many races include a candidate running unopposed. I decided I should do something about that.
MONEY – At the national level and even at the local level, politics is awash with money. It skews things in terrible ways. It makes it seem like only the wealthy or well off can have a say and be able to run for office. My campaign is not going to be focused on money or fundraising or big spending and I will call out my opponent at every opportunity for bringing big money into the campaign.
SERVICE – Public service is an unalloyed good. After 20 years in the military and traveling all over this country and all over the world, I’ve found the place I’m going to call home for the rest of my life. I’m running to try and serve the people of Knox County and make their lives better in whatever way I can.