Vote for me and I’ll set you free! Rap on, brother, rap on.
— The Temptations
In case there are others in the area who, like me, try to squeeze in a few more winks of sleep while driving to work and thus are not exactly the most attentive folks in the world, all those new signs that are taking up space on lawns throughout the region are not an indication that local housing is in its own about-to-bust bubble.
No, today’s politician has been convinced — no doubt by yard sign manufacturers everywhere — that he or she cannot win an election without the benefit of as many well-placed — and relatively high-priced — signs strategically located along local thoroughfares as possible.
And thus, along with all the “For Sale by Owner,” “Garage Sale” and various real estate company signs that have become commonplace pieces of the landscape, election signs are approaching ever-present status. Certainly they’re no match for the multimillion-dollar TV ad wars being waged by the men who would buy the presidency, but local politicians swear by the 2-by-3-foot markers that bear their names.
Whether you believe the signs are indicative of true political support or not, no one can deny that they’re a harbinger of another political season.
The more energetic of the politicians who would fill local, state and national seats up for grabs will be trekking across their various districts and territories in the coming weeks, preparing for July 31 primaries and Nov. 6 general elections that will determine various key leadership positions. However, not even the most ardent go-getter will be able to meet and shake hands with all of his or her constituents.
Some will hold meet-and-greet events — kiss a few babies, grill a few hotdogs, answer a few questions — and others will make speeches at various forums. Some will offer a few quick sound bites for the TV cameras, buy some newspaper ads, reach out via the various social media and canvas neighborhoods, knocking on doors and taking their platforms directly to the voters.
The Albany Herald has made a commitment during this important campaign season to provide the area with the best local political coverage possible. While none of the candidates is going to be able to directly interact with all of the voters who will determine their political fate, The Herald plans to bring the candidates to the voters.
Herald staff writers will showcase most of the political races in the metro area, taking the time to talk with the candidates about their plans and the issues that are most important to them. Our hope is that even the voters who are unable to attend a single political function or who, by fate or choice, never engage in a one-on-one with a candidate will still have an opportunity to “get to know” the people they’re being asked to vote for.
So often voters in this country elect candidates without ever knowing anything about them, without even a clue as to what is important to them. We’ll vote for incumbents or we’ll vote against incumbents or we’ll vote for the candidate of this party or that party ... heck, we’ll even vote for the cutest or most handsome candidate, or the one who is the “right” color, or the one who has the most signs in our neighborhood.
Which kind of negates that whole thing about a democracy being of, by and for the people.
So if you want to know who you’re voting for this year — if you want to know why you should or shouldn’t vote for them — look for the stories starting soon in this newspaper. Sure, this might seem like shameless self-promotion, but the fact is that we have made a commitment to provide readers of this paper with the best campaign coverage in the region.
If we don’t, I feel certain you, the readers, will tell us so. And while I can speak only for myself, if I fail in this regard, I’ll deserve any criticism that might be forthcoming.
Email Carlton Fletcher at firstname.lastname@example.org.