small town politics 101 (read: how my dad won a selectman seat while my mom was busy almost getting arrested)
So, I think a few of you knew that my Dad was running for Selectman in my hometown of Medway, MA. Medway is a small town (13,000 people, two three traffic lights) about 40 mins SW of Boston. Instead of a mayor, the town has five "Selectman" seats (think: city council) and my Dad was running for one of those seats.
Why? Apparently Medway's finances are pretty messed up - so messed up that there was talk about the state having to come in and take back control over the town's budget. This election was all about trying to get some of the old blood out of the Selectman crew (two seats were open; five candidates ran) in an effort to clean up the town's financial woes. The election was yesterday. I decided to come home to help out and hold some signs.
So, I caught a ride home on Sunday night (thanks Genja!), got home about 2am, slept for a few hours and then surprised my Dad ("What are YOU doing here??" style) up at Medway Middle School where the voting takes place. Poll open at 8am, close at 8pm = 12 hours of non-stop sign holding action!
And that's pretty much it. You know, I think this is the most politially active thing I've ever done. ("this" = drank 4 hot chocolates and said a bunch of hellos). Weather was okay (no rain), though the wind was making holding my 9 foot tall sign a challenge ("Mom, my arms hurt!").
ps: this pic makes the scene look really crowded and intense...
... but in reality, it's just 20 people hanging out at the Middle School holding signs. The morning was slow (... but just you hold on - foreshadowing!)
I spent a lot of time in the sign-fixin' workshop, repairing damage caused by the 40mph winds.
At one point, I went to ventue inside to take some photos, though me + my Heely's are apparently Not Welcome. (I snuck in anyway...)
... and took a blurry photo of the ballot. Five choices, two incumbants, two votes per person.
Okay, so just when you think this story is getting boring, let me introduce the two wildcards:
#1. The Blog. So, when I got up on Monday morning my Mom was all "have you been reading the blog???" (and of course I'm all, "er, I'd like my real Mom back please. Thanks."). Anyway, so this is a pretty high-profile election (er, in Medway) with a lot on the line (laid off teachers! higher taxes! budget cuts!) and the residents of little 'ol Medway Mass have been discussing the whole thing online. (I'll post the URL one of these days.)
Now, a blog. So what? The kids love `em. But *this* blog is full of townies talking shit about one another. And it's awesome.
While we were hanging around, Mr. Foresto broke out his EVDO laptop (sweet!) and we started digging through it. Here's what we found...
Anonynous blogger #1: "CROWLEY IS NOTHING BUT AN EMPTY SUIT!"
Response: Big Dig = 196 lbs = I can assure you otherwise, my little blogger friend.
Anonymous blogger #2: "CROWLEY AND DUNN ARE ACCOSTING PEOPLE IN THE PARKING LOT WITH HANDSHAKES! I SAW CROWLEY JUMP FROM BEHIND THE BUSHES AND AMBUSH SOMEONE."
Response: I took this pic while hiding behind the bushes, and huh, no Big Dig. Blogger #2, you too are filled with lies!
Okay, so back to the election day wildcards...
Wildcard Item #2: Some Lady Called The Cops on My Mom. Now, this is crazy. Picture the lineup of people holding signs above. Now, picture an elderly woman walking back from the polls having just voted. Now, picture a woman backing up her minivan a-little-bit-too-fast and nearly *running the old lady over*!
So what happens next? The 20 of us standing around are all, "Oh my God, look out!". The elderly woman does a shuffle step and just barely makes it out of the way. The minivan ends up half-parked on the grass and the 20 of us are waiting for the minivan woman to get out of the car and apologize to the woman she nearly just ran over. Instead, the woman in the mini van *flips the old woman the finger* (!!!). For reals!
I'm pretty sure we were all standing there with our mouths wide open, but apparently my Mom must have had her very bestest scowl face on... because when the miniwan woman gets out of the car (with her four year old!), she looks at my mom and yells, "Hey lady, you got a problem with me?"
And my Mom (no joke), drops her sign (!!) and says to her "Yeah, I got a problem!" and starts telling her (across the parking lot) how wrong she was to (a) back up so quickly, (b) almost run over an old lady only to then (c) flip the bird to the elderly woman, (d) all in front of her four year old daughter! So, they talk for a minute or so, before the minivan woman goes inside to vote (leaving Mom just hanging out at Camp Crowley).
Fast forward about 15 minutes - the minivan woman emerges from the Middle School gym and my Mom is like, "You know, I'm going to give that lady a piece of my mind!", walks across the parking lot and explains to her about why she's upset about the lack of an apology to the old woman and the bad example she's setting for her daughter, etc...
(btw: Mind you that all of this is going on while my Dad is shaking hands + kissing babies in the parking lot. And Mom, I'm proud of you for being the only one to stand up to the minivan lady!)
... which is when the woman decides to *call the cops* ("You are harassing me! You're blocking my car" - neither of which were true). So, she calls the cops... and who is the first officer to show up on the scene? My old freshman football coach Coach / Officer Watson!
So, Coach Watson calms them both down and sets them on their way. And while he's taking their statements...
... three other police cruises show up! (welcome to Medway, btw.) Actually two cruisers and a K9 unit (awesome).
Meanwhile, we all photoshopped our signs real quick (FREE MY MOM!), hoping my Mom wouldn't be thrown in the clink on my Dad's big day. [bigger]
Whew... so that was good times. Of course, we got on The Blog (!!) a few hours later and found this thread:
Anonynous blogger #3: "MR. CROWLEY'S BODYGUARD (read: my mom) IS ASSAULTING PEOPLE IN THE PARKING LOT!!!!"
(followed-up by Anonymous Blogger #4 who wrote something very nice in defense of my Mom)
... which all imply that one of these anonynmous bloggers *was among us* during The Incident! (the plot thickens!!!)
Okay, so moving on. 4pm rolls around and we called in such Heavy Hitters as MF, Uncle Neil, Auntie Jean and Cousin Michelle. This is my 4th hot chocolate of the day.
My Mom was dropping campaign knowledge all day (I learned a lot) including today's word of the day: "Bullet Vote". [video]
Only two signature shots, but I couldn't decided which ws better (more signs vs. more Mom)
I shot a quick walkthrough of Camp Crowley for your enjoyment. Please revel in the whirlwind of Medway Town Election candidate options (and snack options!). Bonus exclusive interview with Big Dig! [video]
Little Man Nick (the son of Big Dig's ad hoc running mate, Dick Dunn) was a hit with the 5th / 6th grade girl votes (player, please!).
8pm. Polls closed. Ballots are being counted. And we're packing up our signs.
8:30. We make our way into the school (they are counting the votes in the same gym where I made out w/ Tara.K in 7th grade - awesome). My Dad slips on his Bullshit Protector Ears (huh?)
(not shown: cute reporter from the Milford Daily News)
The votes are tallied by machine and read off aloud, one precinct at a time (Medway = 4 precincts). My Dad made this makeshift scorecard right before they started reading off the results.
Just seconds before the final numbers are revealed!
Can you even stand the anticipation?!?
And here we go - calling out the 4th (and final) precinct! [video]
... revaling Big Dig and Dick Dunn as the two top vote getters and Medway's newest members of Team Selectmen.
Seriously, Big Dig crushed. Let's look at the numbers:
Total Medway residents: 13,000
Total registered voters: 8500 (65% of the town)
Number of votes cast: 2005 (24% voter turnout)
Number of votes for Big Dig: 1339 (67% voted for my dad)
... so, two out of three voters choose Big Dig? Take that, minivan lady!
Seriously, congrats Dad + Mr. Dunn! (Crazy, but Mr. Dunn didn't even make signs - he just introduced himself all over the place, meeting and greeting voters. As wise-man MF oncetwice 100x said: "People, signs don't vote!")
(Here = Dig getting sworn-in)
Fast forward through a free beers at Sabinas, catching up on The Blog again (!!) and a few hours of sleep and you'll find Mom driving me to the Providence Amtrak station so I can get back to NYC.
The Milford Daily News waiting for us a the end of the driveway - check out the front page!
And check out the Trump / Apprentice reference in the opening line! Well played, cute reporter girl! [full article]
And a sweet photo! (Mr. Dunn in the red)
Ah, so that ends this Medwday fieldtrip. I'm on the Amtrak now about 10 mins from Penn Station. Check out what I scored at the bagel shoppe - let the combined Crowley Cream Chese / Selectman Dynasty begin!