The conversation begins with a question “so, when do you start your new job?” or “how’s the new job going?”
“Well,” I respond “I have to get through another election first.” I see a brief look of confusion get replaced by the realization that what I won in May was a primary election. A mental shift occurs, recalling how elections work. Since I’m the only Bloomington municipal candidate with a general election opponent, there is not much chatter about the November election. I am in direct competition with the one Republican trying for a municipal position and regardless of Bloomington’s record of electing Democrats to city government, I can’t take this election for granted. It’s a strange feeling, to be putting up Hopi Stosberg for City Council signs on a politically blank landscape, but it must happen. My first order of business is respecting the democratic process. Despite my strong success in May, that I am still humbled by, I can’t assume District 3 will choose me again. I need to earn it. I need to knock on doors, remind people who I am, and share my qualifications, my commitments, and my philosophies related to community, government, and representation.
My job hasn't changed. I have to campaign.
However . . .
I also have to be prepared to govern in January. The numbers tell me it is likely that District 3 will choose me again. The ballot tells me that the other ten Democratic nominees will be serving terms for Bloomington and between now and January they are preparing for those positions. Preparing to represent, to lead, to bring ideas to the table. I have to prepare for that too. Both campaigning AND governing. All of the above. That means that in between placing yard signs, designing walk lit, and planning days of action, I’m learning. I’m learning as much as I can. About everything. Which sounds like an overstatement, but as I sit writing this in a hotel room in St. Louis where I’m attending a conference on progressive local government “everything” may be the most accurate summary I can make. I’m meeting one-on-one with community members, local leaders, and city staff. I’m attending meetings - common council, budget hearings, local groups and boards. I’m engaging in specific learning opportunities, like the Resident’s Academy and the Local Progress National Convention that brought me to St. Louis. It’s no secret, or at least it shouldn’t be, that this is my first foray into an elected position and while I think of myself as an involved, engaged human, that does not mean that I already know all the things. In fact, I know just enough to know that I need to know more. A lot more. Governing well requires this growth. So I grow.
That is what I am up to between now and November. Between now and January. Again I ask District 3 to support my candidacy, to get out and vote, to tolerate my knocking on their door and mailing them campaign literature. I prepare myself to serve and represent the residents well, to learn what I can about the systems currently set in Bloomington, how other municipalities are set up, limitations due to state preemption, and how Bloomington is both succeeding and failing to thrive along a number of lines. This is both a professional and personal journey, which is overwhelming and amazing and through the mental and physical exhaustion, I’m valuing every minute of it.