Campaign etiquette in a small town

By Bill Colvard -
Bill Colvard News Reporter -

Does anyone know the official etiquette regarding political campaign yard signs? I can’t say that I do, and I need to find out.

I’m not talking about state and national campaigns. Most folks, myself included, seem to have a pretty definite idea on where they stand in those races these days. I’m talking about the local races where it’s entirely possible you may know one or more of the candidates personally.

If a friend is running for office, is it expected that you put a sign in your yard? If the husband of a friend or co-worker is running for office, is it expected that you put a sign in your yard? What about another relative of a friend or co-worker? And where does it end?

Does the Southern penchant for politeness demand acquiescing to any and all sign-hosting requests? This is not a rhetorical question. I really want to know.

Alright, I’m just going to spit it out and admit I have a sign in my yard for a candidate running for mayor in my town, and I haven’t yet decided for whom I’m going to vote. I don’t even know who all is running. I’m afraid to check, because for all I know, my best friend from fourth grade is running against the person whose sign is in my front yard, and then I’ll need to put up one of his signs too, and then it’s going to get confusing for everybody, especially me.

I live in a small town. A quick Google search says the population of Jonesville is 2,247 people, down from 2,285 in the 2010 census. A few people have apparently died, and my friend Bryan and his wife and their half-dozen kids did move away, so there aren’t as many of us as there once were.

And once you subtract out the children, non-citizens and felons, factor in expected low mid-term turnouts, and this mayoral election is starting to feel about the size of an election for class officers in a mid-size high school. Yes, that’s exactly what it feels like.

At some point between now and Election Day, I’ll do some research and decide who I’m going to vote for. But for now, I’m an undecided campaigner.

For the top-of-the-ticket campaigns where I make up my mind early and decisively, I may decide at some point to put a little money where my mouth is, or do a little campaign work. I have, in the past, hosted a party for a candidate with whom I was particularly enamored. But that comes way down the line, after I have fully committed to a candidate and his or her ideas.

But putting out signs before deciding how I’m going to vote is brand new. And it seems a decidedly small-town maneuver. I kind of like that part of it. I might even be able to congratulate myself for reaching across the aisle and behaving in a bi-partisan manner, as everybody keeps yammering that everybody else needs to do, while not doing it themselves.

But I don’t even know if Jonesville’s mayoral race is a partisan race. But I volunteered my lawn as a site for a sign. Let’s be clear about that. I volunteered. I wasn’t asked.

I especially want the fact of my volunteering to be clear should the candidate of my sign win and become “hizzoner” of my town. Because then, I will feel free to ring up at any hour of the day or night with whatever cockamamie request is on my mind at any particular moment.

First up, and I’ll just throw this one out there right now. We need to change the town slogan. “Heart of the Yadkin Valley” is a real snooze. What does it even mean really?

Much better is another slogan I have been proposing since moving to town 15 years ago, but to no avail, because before now, I did not have the ear of Town Hall. How do you like the ring of “Jonesville: The Other Left Bank”©?

It would serve Elkin right. They think they’re all that with their 4,000 people, but we’ve got the south side of the river, and that makes us the Left Bank. They are the stodgy old Right Bank. I haven’t the vaguest idea why the South bank is the left one, but it is. Go to Paris, and stand on the Seine with a compass if you don’t believe me.

Of course, our Left Bank doesn’t have all those artsy artists like the one in Paris has, because clearly, “Heart of the Yadkin Valley” hasn’t been very effective in luring them here. But once they know we’re “The Other Left Bank”©, I’m sure they will flock to town in droves and bring hipster prosperity with them, heaven help us.

That’s how it works for us special interest groups, isn’t it? We get what we want — after carefully staking claim to a copyright and a cut of the proceeds, of course. I’ve never been a special interest group before, and I must say, I’m kind of looking forward to it.

Unless my best friend from fourth grade is running, and he wins. That’s going to be all kinds of awkward.

Bill Colvard News Reporter Colvard News Reporter

By Bill Colvard

Reach Bill at 415-4699.

Reach Bill at 415-4699.