As I set out to seek a seat on Township council, my previous experience was – none. In the past I had held positions of leadership, but these were never sought. This time was different. This was an actual competition. Or was it?
It felt more like camaraderie than a competition. This surprised me. As we candidates attended functions during the campaign, a strange bond was formed. Like veterans who experience the same battles, we were the only ones who really knew what it felt like: to answer questions, on complex issues, without warning, in 90 seconds or less, with a timer ticking.
We listened to each other’s opening pitch numerous times. Near the end of the campaign, we joked that we could likely give each other’s speeches. In fact, at one event I had to leave early, so I gave another candidate permission to give my closing remarks. She did. I wasn’t there to hear it, but I’m sure she knew what to say on my behalf.
Forming relationships with fellow candidates was one pleasant surprise of the campaign. Another was the response of complete strangers wherever I met them. These encounters were a great joy. Each conversation was interesting and exhilarating. Each person (well, almost each one) was pleasant and receptive.
Langley residents constantly showed how eager they were to meet me and share their thoughts with me. I have lasting memories of warm conversations in coffee shops, quick questions on the street, personal and sometimes sorrowful stories on doorsteps, and groups of guys in garages solving the world’s serious problems. My only regret was that I ran out of time to engage with more people.
So I resolved to do more of this. To meet strangers wherever I can, not now as a wannabe politician, but simply as a concerned human connecting with other people and trying to learn from other perspectives.
Before the campaign, I was told by a few veteran campaigners, “Yes, do run for office! Win or lose, it will be a great experience.” Really, I thought? A great experience – win or lose? I didn’t get it. I get it now.
Phyllis Heppner, Langley