Editor’s Note: Phil Van Treuren, a former journalist, political consultant and soldier, is a candidate for Amherst City Council at-Large. You can visit his campaign website at www.PhilVanTreuren.com.
I’m very grateful to Dan for inviting me to write a guest post here on Buckeye RINO about my campaign for Amherst City Council at-Large. I wish I could dedicate more resources to making this a better post, but spare time is hard to come by during the final weeks of election season (as I’m sure many of you know).
The campaign itself is progressing better than I ever hoped it would. I’m a big believer in putting together a concrete plan early in the game and sticking to it, and the road map we created late last year has served us well. My hopes were to hit the whole city three times in 2009; I’m now on my fourth time around. I’ve knocked on about 4,000 doors, shaken more than 2,000 hands, made more than 1,000 phone calls, and hand-written personal cards to about 3,500 voters. That last task took me six months to complete and left me with a permanent callous on a finger, but it’s all been worth it.
I’ve spent plenty of time working on dozens of campaigns over the last decade, and here’s the most important thing I learned: nothing substitutes for hard work. The more difficult something is in a campaign, the better it works. Going door-to-door for months on end isn’t easy, but there’s no better way to introduce yourself to the voters.
Knocking on the doors of people who you know are members of a different political party might be tough, but it earns you respect. Don’t worry: the vast majority of people who disagree with you are still going to be polite. If you get a flier thrown back in your face, thank them for their time and move on to the next door.
In the end, that isn’t just a good philosophy to follow when you’re campaigning; it’s also sound advice for life in general. You’re going to come across plenty of negative people, but they don’t get to decide whether or not you have a good day. You’re the only one who determines how you’re going to react. If you get upset and let it throw you off your game, then it’s no one’s fault but your own.
Want to know another secret I learned in the campaign gutters over the years? Winners don’t always win. Some of the most successful politicians in the world had to lose several times before they were ever elected. Abraham Lincoln was one of them, I think, and there are plenty of local and national examples to find today, too. If you’ve made the decision to help people through elected office, then you’re almost certainly going to get beat at the polls someday.
Deal with it. Running for office isn’t always fun; it’s also tiring, stressful and at times heartbreaking. But if you’re really committed to helping people, you’ll get back on that horse whenever it bucks you to the ground. There’s only one characteristic that every great person has in common: determination.
As for the Amherst City Council at-Large race, I’m not making any predictions. I’ve met the other candidates, and they’re all great guys. Amherst is going to have three at-large councilmen who care about our city regardless of who wins.
Whatever the outcome is, I’m going to be very proud of what we did during this campaign. And in the end, that should be every candidate’s goal: to be proud of what you’ve done.