September 12, 2017

Grains of Salt (v23): Primarily Thinking

For those of us in New York today, September 12th is primary day. Here in the city of Syracuse, Democrats had a big decision to make: we had a three-way race for mayor, which is unusual.

Regardless of today's primary outcome, there will be at least four candidates on the ballot for the general election: a Democrat, a Republican, a Green, and an Independent. It's possible the Democrat could also be on the Working Families line, but it's not guaranteed - meaning, we could have five in the general. It's a mess this year -- an interesting mess, for sure.

At the beginning of the campaign season, I believe there were seven candidates vying for the Democratic Party's designation to succeed Stephanie Miner, our current term-limited mayor. The one who ended up winning the designation had run unsuccessfully four times before, including in 2009 when he lost in a primary to Miner. The other remaining candidates are the current city auditor, and the former chief lawyer for the city.

I admit I took longer than usual to make my decision, and I'm not sharing it here, of course, but I do want to share a couple of observations.

First, I always take advantage of the opportunity to sign a petition; I've signed for people who are not my favorite, over the years, to try and ensure had a choice. This year, no Democrat petition carriers came to the house - or if they did, the didn't manage to do it when we were home - and work from home several days a week. I waited for calls, I waited for door knockers and door stuffers, and nothing.

I ended up signing a petition for the independent, exercising my right for the only person who seemed interested. And then, I never heard from him again - for weeks and weeks, I heard nothing. And, when I thought I had finally heard from him, the mail was actually for my husband, who's registered as an Independent.

I got lots of mail from the Democrats, the three that stayed in the race. (I think I got more from the candidates for City Court Judge than I did for the mayoral candidates).  I would say the volume of mail favored the former corporation counsel more than the repeat candidate. I answered polls about the race a couple of times, happily offering my honest opinion on a scale of one to seven, one being most favorable (or maybe seven was most favorable, I can't remember).

Last night, around dinner time, I answered the phone and spoke with a nice gentleman who wondered if I planned on voting today. I answered yes, and he asked me if I was going to vote for his candidate. I answered that I was not sure yet what I was going to do. He sounded surprised -- shocked, actually - - and then simply encouraged me to vote. I promised I would and almost as an afterthought, he asked if I needed a ride to the polls. I told him we were set (we usually walk) and he said "OK, remember to vote" and hung up.

I held the phone in my hand after he hung up, wondering why on earth he didn't even try to convince me to vote for his candidate. He didn't ask why I was undecided, and didn't ask if I wanted more information. He just said "Candidate A is a great person," as if that alone was enough of a reason for me to vote for A.

This afternoon, we voted. I was number 80, which is actually pretty good for a primary at my polling place. When my husband and I arrived, we joined three other people in line, and the election workers noted that we five had formed the longest line of the day.

Tonight, two hours before the polls closed, I received a robo call from the former corporation counsel, reminding me it was primary day, and offering me a number to call if I needed a ride to the polls.

And now, as I finish this post, polls are closing across the city. It's going to be interesting to see who ends up winning; whether that person will have the support of their vanquished opponents; and whether the will of the party is strong enough to quash two insurgents.

As a friend of mine has asked, haven't Democrats learned anything in the past couple of years? Are we going to splinter and faction ourselves out of City Hall?  Let's sit back and see what happens.

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