For more than a decade, I’ve enjoyed being an observer of California politics, reading history books and interviewing legislators. During that time, I never thought I’d run for political office.
For me, it was hard enough to watch brutal elections where candidates gambled everything; missing anniversary dinners, kids birthdays, and even mortgaging their houses to fill campaign accounts.
On Monday, August 15th, I crossed over the line and became a candidate for a little over two days. This is the story of my 53 hours and 56 minute campaign.
Last week, a neighbor mentioned that by the close of the nomination period on August 12th, no candidates had filed to run for the board of our local recreation and park district. Like many special districts in California, the Arcade Creek Park and Recreation District is governed by a five-member elected board. The board is elected to four-year terms, with roughly half being elected every two years.
This year, three of the five seats were up for election and for a variety of reasons, the three incumbents had decided not to run for reelection. Because of this, the nomination period (when a candidate can file the paperwork to run) was extended until August 17th.
I’ve always been a fan of our local parks, and the board has been doing a lot of good work (modernizing playgrounds, increasing security patrols, and preparing to build a bridge that will finally provide a safe way to access the nature trail from the local community college). After some thought, I decided to run.
On Monday morning, my daughter and I drove down to the Sacramento County elections office where I was able to complete my paperwork in just a few minutes. I turned in my paperwork, took an oath of office (without reservation or purpose of evasion) and was out the door by 11:04 am. I was a candidate!
That evening, I checked the list of Qualified Candidates on the Sacramento County website. The time stamp on the PDF showed that as of 3:45:02PM on August 15th, I was the only name listed.
The next night, I wondered if I should check in again. It seemed that it might be excessive to check in on the candidate filing status daily. Then again, when your campaign is likely to only last 54 hours, checking in every 24 is probably the least you can do. Following the link again on Tuesday, I found that I remained the only candidate listed for the three seats.
The dawn brought Wednesday, the final day of my hard-fought campaign. At five in the afternoon, as I drove home from work in light traffic, the extended filing period ended at and (I was still the only one candidate on the ballot) I was declared elected.
My 54 hours as a candidate had ended.