Home / Al’s Campaign Notebook: Brookville Meet the Candidate’s night, 9-30-2004

Al’s Campaign Notebook: Brookville Meet the Candidate’s night, 9-30-2004

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Playing ball is more fun than watching it. Thus, I was pleased to spend Thursday evening at a candidate forum here close at the local county seat in Brookville rather than watching the little faux “debate” with Kerry and Bush. Ours was scheduled first, and I certainly rate it more important.

Meet the Candidates was sponsored by the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with the Democrat and Republican women’s groups. We probably had 100 people in attendance, by my guessing, largely candidates’ families. It was held at the Schilling Center, right next to the remains of our old grandstand that was recently placed in the historic registry, and burned down just the day before. That’s a danged shame.

Old home politics in Brookville always feels just a little bit warm and cozy. I’m not sure quite what all the neighbors think of that third party guy up on the hill, but some of them have known me and/or the family for all my life.

Indeed, the event was being run by Lois Clark. I hadn’t seen her in many years, but she remembers feeding me lollipops as a wee lad.

Others naturally asked about my father, Howard Barger. After 40 years in business, the old man’s a pretty popular fellow about town. That’s a pretty good association for my benefit.

On the other hand, I might also inherit the karma of my delightfully cranky late uncle Helmuth Fields. Let’s just say that Slick Fields was the bane of local Democrat politicians- and not necessarily that popular with some of the Republicans. Uncle Bud was something of a role model for me. Now he’s gone to that great county commissioner’s meeting in the sky.

Anyway, this event was open for every candidate who is on a Franklin County ballot. Turns out that I was the only federal candidate who showed up, so that definitely put me first at the podium.

This was interesting, because there were no guidelines given. I had no clue how long I was supposed to speak. They just pretty much called me up, and handed me the mic. I was aiming for not over five minutes, as there’s a room full of candidates. I’m guessing at that though, and they starting to wave at me from the back after what I’m guessing was three minutes or so. I ranted for a minute about Congress ripping off Social Security money. I sat down.

What’s nice is that Franklin County politics are friendly and civil enough that we can work in a loose manner like this in a co-operative way. I hear about these schmucks running for president that need a 30+ page debate agreement just to get together and talk in front of cameras for a minute. I know it’s bigger stakes, but still.

Family friend and former electoral opponent State Senator Bob Jackman was in attendance, seeking election (42nd district) to his third term. Turns out that the Democrat opponent Barry Welsh is the preacher at the Presbyterian church not 5 miles away in Laurel.

I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention county commissioner Tom Wilson, who is popular with the Barger family and seeking re-election.

I was personally particularly pleased to see Rebecca Oglesby. I had needled her a bit publicly a couple of years ago when she was the outgoing clerk. She’s running now for county treasurer. She may be a danged ol’ Republican, but she’s very charming. Plus, she’s running against a retired IRS agent. In theory, I know that this would probably be a good technical qualification for the job, but you can’t ask me to vote for a revenuer. You just can’t.

As part of our civic instruction, the current clerk was showing off our fancy new optical scan ballots and machines. This fall will be our first crack with these new machines. They seemed okay, and they do certainly have a paper trail, as we’re physically marking ballots.

Having had formal issues earlier in the year about my attempted presidential primary write-in vote, our long suffering clerk was not surprised that I had a write-in vote on my sample ballot. I wrote in Ayn Rand for “Best Writer.” This was actually useful, in demonstrating how the scanner detects and separates ballots with write-in votes.

The Republican women brought in bunches of Laura Bush’s Oatmeal-chocolate Chunk cookies. They were of course a homebaked delight.

The Democrat women brought in Teresa Heinz Kerry’s Pumpkin Spice cookies. In theory, I’m all about chocolate, but I have to say these were pretty good. Also, Franklin County Democrat women get extra points with me for their restraint in not rising to my bait as I teased them about ‘Teresa Heinz’ butler’s cookie recipe.’

There’s no place like home.

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  • Hey, Al, have you thought about campaigning with pie.

    Oh, but Ayn Rand pie probably tastes like crap, and is probably made out of it.

    But what a refreshing portrayal of how politics should work, instead of the sham you get on teevee.

    You go al!

  • Thanks, Jim. Local campaigning like this tends to re-humanize the thing. Sure, I like to give Democrats hell, but it’s hard to work up a good fit of indignation when they’re feeding me home baked cookies.

    Ayn was apparently a fairly decent cook, though. It was some kind of feminine pride that had her cooking dinner for her husband night after night even when she slaving 12+ hour days over writing and editing Atlas.