Channeling my inner Nancy Pelosi
I’ve been flattered of late, in a way not experienced before. Two years ago I moved to the Hudson Valley town of its namesake river. To Hudson, New York. A lighthouse sits right off the city’s shoreline; the Catskill Mountains rise to the west.
It’s a heady time with a complicated civic picture.
I’ve been recruited to run for alderperson (in the old days, it was alderMAN; I just can’t squeak that one out). I would represent my neighborhood, known in political parlance as a ward. I’m deeply honored to consider the role.
If I accept this nomination I will run on the Democratic line. Much has to be done before the New York State primary on June 25, so the decision time is short. The list of considerations is long. But there are some clear sight lines.
Politics has never been my thing.
I’ve never, ever been involved in politics. Yes, I’ve voted at every opportunity since coming of age, and supported local and national candidates with small donations. But I have never campaigned for candidates nor rallied for issues, even though I might have held a strong opinion.
I’m not sure why other than it seemed extremely time-consuming. I didn’t want to spend what free time I had in the political arena. I’ll confess to a bit of the “free rider” syndrome as far as politics goes. Let somebody else pick up the cause and do the work. I’ll support it (or not) with my vote. Just don’t ask me to get involved.
On the other hand, I’ve often been involved in local governance. I’ve served on town boards and the like. I jumped into civic life soon after arrival in Hudson. As so often happens in a small town, I got to know a broad swath of the active citizenry pretty quickly.
Age isn’t a drawback.
We know the Boomer generation makes for fearless political players. Maybe it’s decades of adult life experience that gives one a certain equanimity, not to mention self-confidence, about making big stake decisions.
I have the energy, can make the time, and have a keen interest. I’m probably no better prepared than now, at this time in my life, to take this on.
Relative lack of experience isn’t a drawback.
My relative newcomer status is not considered a negative. In fact, some (we all have our cheerleaders) see my candidacy as fresh eyes on the challenges and opportunities before Hudson. Unencumbered by the “we’ve always done it this way” bias. Also, ten “aldermen” make up the city’s Common Council. It would be difficult to overstep the limits of authority and get away with it.
I bring a strong work ethic, a thoroughness, to everything I do. It isn’t to humblebrag, but I know myself. I like to get things done. I work well with others. I can learn what I need to know. I know when to seek the advice of those with longer institutional memory and a broader perspective.
Here is the drawback. Actually, several drawbacks cloud my decision.
First of all, I wasn’t expecting this so there is a big element of surprise. The opportunity has come out of the blue. It is very flattering but I need to be true to myself. Not get tangled up in the compliment to my leadership skills and perceived value to my community.
I have specific goals that are important to me (Medium figures largely in this goal matrix). I want to develop as a writer. I’m taking on a limited role in an international business venture.
I travel regularly to see my children and grandchildren. I like to travel with friends and family a couple of times a year. I spend a lot of time reading all year and gardening in season. It could all be managed with organized schedules and careful planning, but I’m not looking for more stress. I’m okay with unstructured time. More than okay with unstructured time. I’ve come to luxuriate in it.
So, do I have the bandwidth? The commitment to do this and do it well?
On the other hand.
This opportunity isn’t going to roll my way again. It’s an interesting time for my small city and a chance to be part of its next chapter. I have personal goals, yes, but maybe this can be part of the larger picture. The experience can actually broaden my writing, give me more fodder for the longer-range goal of the short story writing. Maybe not tomorrow but someday. In life, you play the long game.
Further, nothing that we do is a waste. Even when things that turn out to be less than gratifying they point to larger truths. Experience does that.
One caveat: if I decide to go for it, I will have to hang the “No Vacancy” sign on my capacity-o-meter. It will be full-up. I’ll let you know.