It has often struck me, throughout the course of this campaign, that what is happening in Hainesport is a microscopic mirror of what is happening on a national scale. This is possibly true of all township elections everywhere, although perhaps it is more true here because I am a Democrat woman running against a powerful Republican machine, who has been accused of lying, and who has had lies told about her, in turn. Now, the election is almost upon us, and it is time to consider, on both a local and national scale, how we will heal our communities once it is over.
This was brought home to me last night when I read a comment by one of our opponents’ supporters on Hainesport Happenings:
Natalie Schneider, I’m going to play devil’s advocate. Suppose by some miraculous chance you win. Then what? Do you think you could honestly work side by side with the current committee. How could you even have the courage to look them in the face after all the lies and false accusations? How would you handle going into executive session without your mommy and daddy being there to hold your hand??
When I saw this my immediate reaction was to leap in and defend my running mate, but it was late and that was not the right place, so I determined instead to write this blog entry.
I did not know Natalie personally until this April, but ever since then I have been impressed by her intelligence, drive, enthusiasm and resilience. It is true that she is 25 and lives at home with her parents. Tony Porto was 26 and lived at home with his parents when he was elected, and while that has not necessarily worked out well for Hainesport, I don’t think anyone criticized him then for his age or inexperience.
I have also got to know Natalie’s parents, Diana & Rodger Schneider, both former Republicans and good people who would certainly never tear down anyone’s lawn sign! They have worked tirelessly as campaign volunteers, but they are not the force behind Natalie’s ideas or ethics, nor does she need them to hold her hand. In fact, at times when the relentless negativity and lies have got me down, it is Natalie who has offered me her hand to hold.
Healing Hainesport After the Election If We Win
I don’t know how many people in Hainesport know this, but my family has been friends with the Fitzpatricks and the Dickinsons for a long time. My daughter was best friends with Mike Fitzpatrick’s daughter in pre-school, and she then went on to take dance classes at Edge Dance Center, like many of our daughters. You also would not know that throughout the campaign I have had several civil, private conversations with both Mick Dickinson and Mike Fitzpatrick.
I am confident that Natalie and I can work with Mayor Dickinson and Committeeman Fitzpatrick if we are elected, and I am optimistic that Mayor Dickinson can control any residual negativity from the third incumbent.
I have also observed, at the township meetings I have attended since March, that the rowdiness is confined to only a few points in the meeting–controversial ordinances and public comment. The “meat & potatoes” business of the township—fire ordinances, contracts, construction, proclamations—has continued smoothly. There has never been opposition for opposition’s sake in Hainesport, nor will there ever be.
Healing Hainesport After the Election If We Lose
This is naturally more difficult, because of the immense time, effort, and emotional energy I have invested in the campaign. I will continue to attend Township Meetings and to encourage others to do so, and I will continue to promote the best interests of Hainesport. I also pledge to run again next November against Mick Dickinson & Tony Porto.
However, with no election imminent, this toxic spillover into Hainesport Happenings should disappear as quickly as the lawn signs. Residents will be able to avoid any conflict simply by not attending township meetings or reading my blog. (I will stop posting links to blog entries in the group until next election season rolls around.) Hainesport will get back to normal, and friends will forgive former friends.
Healing on a National Scale
Whichever party wins, I believe this nation can come together. All over the country, in our little towns, people like me are thinking the same things I have written about here. Most people, regardless of political affiliation, are fundamentally good people who want the best for their communities. Our party leaders just need to look at how we go about this healing in our township communities, and magnify it to a national scale.