Last night, the missus and I made it over to the East End Club just after 8:30 to catch the tail end of Ryan Berard's fundraiser for his City Council bid.
We were greeted at the door by some of his campaign managers/advisors who we've gotten to know (as well as the candidate himself) at the UML Community Discussions Series and at a couple of LDNA meetings. With an offering up of the suggested $15 donation, I made my first-ever contribution to a political campaign. I thought about that as I handed the check over, and realized that: a) in my adult life until now, I've never lived in the same Congressional District -- or even the same city -- for two or more consecutive election cycles; and b) never owned property anywhere. That does not a good recipe for political involvement make. Of course, I still haven't lived here for two cycles (or even one, really) but because I plan to stay here indefinitely, and own a piece of real estate, there's incentive to move "interest" in politics towards actual involvement.
So I'm very glad to have done it. I've got nine votes to give, and I've made no secret here of telling anyone who cares to listen that one of them will be for Ryan. Hopefully, that relatively small amount of money will have an impact on something tangible -- flyers, bumper stickers, t-shirts, or whatever..
One interesting aspect for us last night was the chance to meet the candidate's parents. When we grabbed an open table and sat down to go through the brochures we picked up, Ken and Kelly Berard both went out of their way to introduce themselves and give us some insight into the door-to-door "retail politics" aspect of the campaign and the state of affairs in the city itself, to include opinions on Tuesday night's Council meeting. I think we successfully convinced Kelly to come to an LDNA meeting (4th Monday, 7 p.m. @ Revolving, but no meeting this month).
For what it's worth, I know Downtown hasn't been a traditional hotbed of voter turnout, but I hope this year's candidates can capitalize on the high sense of frustration that many are feeling with things right now and find a way to get more of the folks here mobilized. I think one of the (many) lessons of President Obama's successful primary and general bids from last year is that going after new voters is sometimes a more fruitful strategy than just assuming only those who have already voted in the past will vote again, and others are worthy only of ignoring.