Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The First Forum

Reflecting on the Reservoir
Armed with my newly gained knowledge about the issues I thought were pertinent to the community, I was not completely terrified of the approaching candidate forum.  The time allotted for each candidate to speak was so small that I didn’t expect to get into too much trouble.

Where I arrived at the auditorium where the forum was taking place, I immediately saw that there were more candidates attending than people from the neighborhood.  I wasn’t surprised.  I’d seen the attendance at the Neighborhood Council meetings.  These were the same people I’d seen there.  We were given 30 seconds to introduce ourselves.  I told them who I was and how long I’d lived in the neighborhood and a brief summary of what I do.  I then told them that the entire concept of the Neighborhood Council ought to be re-envisioned to create a resource for communication and volunteerism, rather than the added layer of city government which it currently was.

There were to be two questions asked of all the candidates.  Each of us was given forty seconds to answer each question.  As the first question, we were asked what we thought was the single most important issue facing the community.  Fortunately, I was not the first to be called on to answer the question, so I was able to get an idea by what the other candidates said as to what I wanted to tell the people in the room.  I decided to spend my forty seconds talking about communication.  It wasn’t bad for an adlibbed speech.  I told them I thought our biggest problem was that we didn’t really talk to our neighbors very much anymore and that the way to build a community was through communication.  Forty seconds is a very small amount of time to say anything very meaningful, but I did the best I could.  Some of the other candidates were very good at articulating their favorite issue; others just rambled and quickly ran out of time before they said anything meaningful.  I was beginning to be grateful for the forty second limit on speechifying.

The second thing the moderator wanted us to address was what we thought the best way to reach out to the community might be.  Again, I was not the first to be called, so I had some time to decide what to talk about.  I chose the Neighborhood Watch program as an effective way to get people talking and working together for a common goal.  With the right group of people, a Neighborhood Watch can really be a great community builder, so I talked about that.  I thought I did well.  I again emphasized that people needed to look to each other for solutions to problems and not wait around for some government agency to figure it out.  I don’t suppose it was what anyone wanted to hear, but I do believe it to be true.  Government is really only good at stopping things or trying to stop things.  Actions are performed by individuals.  Ideas come from individuals.  Of course, it can be good to have lots of help putting those ideas into practice, but somebody has to be in charge.  Decisions are best made by individuals.  Groups generally arrive at lowest common denominator type solutions which are rarely, if ever, as effective as those solutions decided by well-informed individuals.

I survived the first forum with my dignity mostly intact.  The handful of people attending now had some idea where I stood on some basic issues.  Whether that made them more inclined to vote for me, I knew not.  Probably not, I guessed, since there seem to be a lot of people in California who thing government at all levels has the answers to all of their problems.  The next event was a candidate meet-and-greet that was taking place at a private residence in two days.  I had no idea what to expect, having never been to a meet-and-greet.  I suspected that I would not enjoy it, but that’s another story.

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