Lessons learned from the political season | Editorial

The 2011 political season is one I will not soon forget. It ranks up there as one of the most interesting I have been involved in for several years.

The 2011 political season is one I will not soon forget.

It ranks up there as one of the most interesting I have been involved in for several years.

I recall thinking around May how the races looked a little quiet compared to recent years.  I could not have been more wrong.

When the votes were tallied Nov. 8 star reporter Kris Hill said she should write a boom-kick musical comedy about this one.

It was different.

This year I was covering five cites — each with city council races. Covington was the only one without a contentious race or issue boiling either under the surface or over the top of the pot.

Black Diamond ended up with the widest percentage margins with both incumbents losing by more than 40 percent.

The YarrowBay master planned developments has created a ground war in that city and the next couple of years are going to be well worth watching for all the surrounding city officials, residents and potential developers.

The Athenians learned a long time ago your friends can be much more dangerous than enemies. They fought the Persians, but their empire was brought down by their neighbors, the Spartans.

Maple Valley was a classic case of political miscalculation. If you have a seriously damaging political issue in your past like a bankruptcy don’t wait for a newspaper, or me, to find it. It’s always hard to play catchup.

The most important adage that came out of that town is when it comes to politics, don’t listen to your friends, or people carrying a political ax. Those axes have a way of swinging both ways.

The candidate who can tell himself the truth, win or lose, is far ahead (and rare) at the end of the race.

The Kent races helped me learn about the city at a much deeper level.

The most interesting story I have ever done in the midst of a campaign was with Michael Sealfon. It was not a story I initially wanted to write, but I ended up learning more from him about the heart of a political race and how it effects a candidate – especially from the losing side.

Sealfon’s case was a classic example of a story everyone would expect should go one way. The paper gets anonymous letters concerning his lifestyle choice of dressing up as a woman and he decides to talk about it as truthfully and frankly as anyone I have ever sat and interviewed. If truth is the measure, Sealfon stood the test.

In another city I misjudged one race because I wasn’t paying attention like I should have been. I have always believed the trick to covering politics at any level is simply paying attention, listening and watching for that certain look that shows the heart of the matter.

It is there, it just takes patience and time. The problem is time can be what we have the least of in the newspaper business.

The clarion call from this election, and nearly all I have covered, is for candidates to first tell themselves the truth, and then it becomes much easier to tell it to others.

The other is beware of candidates who think they can fool or outwit voters. It happens, but, not very often. The fall can be very long and hard.

Finally, winning can be more deceiving than losing. Winning tea leaves are very hard to read.

Also, a candidate who loses and returns is often a most dangerous opponent.

The good thing about political races is they are like horse races, there will be another trifecta to play and chance to lose, right around the corner.

[flipp]

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