Monday, May 09, 2005

So how about those local elections?

This just in, by guest blogger Bernie, on behalf of our local Dallas DFA Meetup. We just got done with some interesting municipal elections here in and want to get a dialog going with everyone!

So, another election has come and gone and we want to hear from you. Now is the chance for everyone to start a dialog on the candidates, local issues, media coverage, etc. Are you an experienced campaigner, activist or amateur strategist? Post your feedback and ideas on how to improve a candidate or campaign. Your feedback will be compiled by Dallas DFA and used to improve how candidates are recruited and how campaigns are run in the future.

Here are some ideas to get you thinking:

Did a candidate's message turn you on to them or off of them and why?
My candidate was great, but got no help from activists, where were ya'll?
Why did the Blackwood amendment go down in flames?
How well did the media do?
How did you pick your candidate?
Was it me or did all the candidates sound the same?
Did anyone read all that direct mail or push cards?
Grassroots campaigning doesn't work and here's why...
Did your candidate end up being a wacko like mine?
Was your candidate's yard sign pretty - mine wasn't....
Voter turnout in Dallas was low because...
I volunteered, we worked hard, but we still lost ... here's why
Here are my ideas for a better candidate and campaign:

When you post to the blog, post either as "Other" - using your name only or as “Anonymous”

Don't be shy....tell us everything!


Anonymous Crispin said...

Ok, and here's my own comment:

I am really thrilled to see Prop. #1 go down. The DMN article on it was quite interesting; they pretty much said that it was because of South Dallas and that folks there perceived it as being very anti-civil rights.

I was against it because when I researched it I found that it was the strongest of the strong mayor proposals. I was also concerned about the legal issues, and about the motivations of the individuals involved. One of my coworkers thought the same. One of my friends was against it because he dislikes Laura Miller and couldn't stand to see her be the first Strong Mayor.

As far as other races go, my city council district didn't have a strong opponent so there wasn't that much to be interested in there.

I was surprised to see so many of the races go on to a runoff. That will make for another interesting month, I think, especially the Lipscomb - Fantroy race.

3:20 PM  
Anonymous Bernie said...

So this was my first city council election and I am not surprised by the outcome. Most incumbents won, and of course why shouldn't they....they already have an established voter base. All they have to do is get them to the polls and maybe pick up a few more.

A challenger has to come in and create a base of voters from scratch. With little money, and even less manpower, that's pretty damn I completely understand why most candidates wait for an open seat. Unfortunately, 3 years is a long time to let a bad councilperson write bad laws and the use the public's checkbook to buy reelection.

We have to figure out how to win these kinds of elections!

As I am writing this, I am looking over dozens of different push cards and they all say the same thing: crime is a problems, city services are not responsive, we need more development and beautification in the district, I will keep property taxes low. All this leaves we with is making a choice on either party identification if I can find out, voting against the other person or voting on personality.

No wonder voter turnout it low..

Hopefully in the future, candidates will be able to further distinguish themselves from their opponents, excite the electorate and bring new voters into the process...

6:44 PM  
Anonymous JR said...

I found it quite interesting that despite the number of people who bitch about City Council, virtually all the incumbents were re-elected. Even in the one incumbent runoff, it's still a former councilperson (Lipscomb) against the incumbent, Fantroy.

"If you don't vote, don't gripe." I'd like to see that on a bumpersticker.

I was delighted to see the Strong Mayor defeated. Some of the largest donors behind Strong Mayor were also associated with Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and the Heritage Alliance, a far-right group.

I think the success or failure of individual campaigns here followed much of the same principles you would expect in bigger elections:

1. You needed either a)lots of money or b) lots of volunteers to make a showing. Ideally, both.
Those candidates who were likeable or able to motivate people naturally gathered more volunteers and that was a bonus for them.

2. While money can buy you a lot of nice printed pieces and ads, there is no substitute for meeting folks in person. Precinct walks and appearances at forums/meetings are essential.

3. You need a website, and a good one. Many candidates in this election did not have a website.

4. It was hard to dislodge an incumbent, even when the challenger was the superior candidate. I believe this to be even more true in these local elections than statewide/nat'l; since the turnout is so low, it's hard to swing the momentum the other way.

I, too, found that many of the candidates' platforms were repetitive, but probably because most everyone agreed that crime, code enforcement and economic development were our top problems. Still, a few creative people could have come up with some unique solutions here to differentiate Candidate A from Candidate B. This is one area where a few sharp volunteers could make a real difference, if we were called in to work on a whole campaign - to brainstorm ideas, not just make calls or put out flyers. Those are important tasks, too, but I believe we can do more, if asked.

10:36 AM  
Anonymous MB said...

I'll be honest, it was kind of hard for me to switch from the Us (Democrats/Progressives) vs. Them (Republicans) mentality and really take an honest look at all the candidates.

And I agree with what Crispin says, many of the candidates sounded the same.

I don't know maybe it was just too hard for people (including myself) to get really excited about "non-partisan" races after such a contentious general election.

I did read the candidates' direct mail. As a matter of fact, that's how I decided who to vote for in the Irving Mayor's race. I attended the Irving Candidate Forum and really wasn't blown away by anyone (all sounded the same). I received a mail piece from Herbert Gears listing his accomplishments, and I liked the fact that he lead the charge to stop using gas as a means of destroying unwanted animals at the Irving Animal Shelter. Herbert Gears and Marvin Randle will have a runoff on June 11.

7:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am 30 years old and November was the first time I had ever voted. I was uneducated about the process, although I have very strong opinions and have been a democrat all of my life, including being very active in political groups in college. I worked for six months prior to the Nov. election doing voter registration and trying to get-out-the-vote. I had never voted before because when I was in college out of state, I was uneducated about getting an absentee ballot, then when I moved to Texas, I moved around so much, including from Tarrant to Dallas county, that every time it came time to vote, my voter registration card was never current. I did not know I could still vote in my old precinct, and I never knew about early voting.

This election, I never received any direct-mail or push-cards, so I didn't know a lot about any of the candidates. I am so busy most of the time, working several jobs and going to school, that I just didn't take the time to go vote, and totally forgot on Saturday the 7th. I thought I would see some signs reminding me to go vote but I didn't see anything, then I realized on Monday that I probably missed my chance.

Voting is not hard, the polling places are close by and most people can take the five minutes, but people forget or they aren't even aware of their rights. I am very close to graduating with a Master's degree and I was still uneducated about the voting process. I didn't know anything about my rights as a voter until I started volunteering to do voter registration. I think the most important thing is for people to try to educate their friends and neighbors, then remind them to vote. Democrats especially are so busy trying to make ends meet that it's hard for us to think about the larger picture when we are just trying to pay the bills. I think it should be the city's responsibility to educate the voters, use television news and maybe even send out an educational flyer as to where voting locations are, who the candidates are, and how to get more information. If this is not the city or the state's responsibility, then it should be our precinct chair's. However, my precinct chair never does ANYTHING to get people in our precinct to vote, including me. I live right next door to Susan Hays, the chair of the Dallas Democratic Party [until last month], for two years, and she has never asked me to vote. If we don't ask our neighbors and remind them, who will? If our precinct chair doesn't care about getting out the vote in our precinct who will? I worked on it this summer, but lately, I haven't had the time. We need to do what Move-on is doing and try to organize within our precincts or neighborhoods, then from there call or block-walk, find more like-minded people, and when our own precinct is organized, we can help others who don't have a precinct chair or an organized group. We've got to start at the ground up and motivate our friends and neighbors. I sent out an email reminding people to early-vote, but never went, then forgot myself! But, no one reminded me either. I am not trying to blame others, I am just trying to make the suggestion that we need to talk about it more and get organized locally.

10:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I liked both Linda Koop and Danny Harrison, but it was the strong mayor proposal that made up my mind. I voted for Linda because she opposed it.

I bet Danny Harrison lost because more voters went to the polls to oppose strong mayor and anyone who supported it.

Laura Millers political career is over.

10:12 AM  
Anonymous Crispin said...

"Laura Miller's political career is over." You are SO right, and I'm really beginning to wonder, in light of the fact that Blackwood didn't even show up to her own victory party, if this little proposition wasn't organized as a win/win political coup for the Park Cities Cabal. It passes -- they get a strong mayor. It loses-- they take down Mayor Miller. Hmmmm.....

11:24 AM  

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