No race - but just think of the great campaign slogans

Friday, September 7, 2001

Didn't we just have an election?

You know, the one where we didn't know who would be president for weeks after we voted?

But here we are talking about another election.

Not for president of the United States.

The talk now is about city councilmembers and term limits and wards and who will be mayor.

Some Speak Out callers have suggested, based on what they've read in the newspaper recently, that I should run for mayor.

As flattering as the suggestion might be, I hereby declare that I am not now, nor do I intend to be, a candidate for mayor, nor will I be arm-twisted into seeking public office.

And let me make it perfectly clear to all who read these words: The mayor we've got is a darn fine mayor. If he was a terrible mayor, do you think I'd be taking friendly potshots? Heck no. I'd be making A-bomb preparations.

If Hizzonner could run for mayor again, he'd get my vote. Hands down.

So don't mistake what you've read in this newspaper as some sort of feud. It's not.

What we have is differing perspectives on an issue that is rapidly evolving into something positive: smooth streets. Who's against smooth streets?

Throw away those yard signs. Ditch those campaign slogans. Can the commercials.

I'm not running.

Shoot. I don't even walk all that fast.

Not that I don't have a little election experience under my belt.

In my Kelo Valley days, I successfully sought election as secretary of the Greenwood 4-H Club. And won, too, after a well-run campaign that had its high moments, including the bonus of not being opposed.

In high school in my favorite hometown in the Ozarks west of here, I waged another winning bid to become class treasurer one year. As it turned out, the class had no money. I can't remember why we needed a treasurer.

A few years ago, we had an employee contest here at the newspaper to see who could make the best meatloaf. There was a lot of good meatloaf that day. I know. I tasted all of the contenders. When the votes were tallied (no one was supposed to know who made which meatloaf), mine was the winner.

With all modesty, I do make a heckuva meatloaf. I'll tell you the secret if you won't spread it around: Italian herbs.

But I eat all meatloaf, regardless of the chef, the same way: I dump ketchup all over it. Frankly, all ketchup tastes pretty much the same.

Several years ago, when we lived in Maryville, Mo., Mark Watkins suggested that I run for a city council seat. Mark was a good friend and owned one of the town's hardware stores. He was a clear-headed, good-hearted young man. I thought he would make a good councilman.

So I told Mark I'd file -- but only if he would too.

Imagine my consternation when he said he would think about it overnight and let me know the next day.

In the end, neither of us had the guts to put our names on the ballot. I've always had special admiration for folks who become candidates, even if they don't win. Being a candidate, it seems to me, is tougher than being an officeholder.

This week my wife and I paid a visit to the county health department to get hepatitis-A shots as recommended by a doctor who heard about a trip we're taking. Either fortunately or unfortunately, my reputation for being afraid of needles is well-known at the health department.

The nurse giving the shots noticed that I stepped out into the hall while my wife got her shot. When it was my turn, I immediately took a seat in the folding chair. "The bigger they are, the harder they fall," the nurse said to my wife. I chimed in: "If there was a gurney in this room, I'd be on it right now."

The nurse wondered aloud if I had ever been hurt when I got my flu shots at the health department. No, I quickly replied. Never. And it's the truth. It isn't the pain I fear. It's the idea of a needle going into my arm.

Sure enough, the hepatitis shot didn't hurt at all. But I must have flinched.

"You can take shots at Hizzonner," said the nurse, "but you can't take a little shot yourself?"

Well, there you have it. The whole Editor vs. Hizzonner thing in a nutshell.

The nurse said she got a chuckle out of my recent columns about street repairs. As a member of the Jackson school board, she said, she could certainly understand Hizzonner's sensitivity, having been on the receiving end herself.

"You don't always know who your friends are," she said.

Exactly. Which is why I am not a former Maryville city councilman.

Sometime you go to places with needles because it's good for you. Sometimes you come away with something to think about.

R. Joe Sullivan is the editor of the Southeast Missourian.

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