GREENWICH, Conn. The following letter is from John Blankley, the Democratic candidate for Greenwich first selectman:
These past few months I have been out and about around the town knocking on doors and introducing myself to voters. Effectively its been a listening tour, finding out, on the ground, what people want from their local government. Im looking for votes, of course, lets not lose sight of that, so I have a highly targeted potential constituency that covers a particular selection of Democrats, Republicans and unaffiliated voters. In this traditionally Republican town I need to reach across the party divide to appeal to voters beyond my own Democratic Party.
I will confess in the early going I felt some trepidation as I rang the bell of Mr. X, aged 75, and marked on my sheets with an R! Would he be a gruff curmudgeon, a kindly gent, or totally indifferent?
Well, Ive met all of the above and I can say that kindliness or curmudgeonly behavior is not confined to any one party! A universal, however, is that almost everyone I have met has been delighted to meet a candidate for First Selectman, and I want to thank all those who have greeted me with civility and even enthusiasm. Most gratifying, however, have been the occasions when Im greeted with, Oh, I recognize you from your picture in the papers. Permit me a little conceit!
Of course, the moment I open my mouth I reveal my origins (I was sent here by my British company almost 30 years ago and decided to stay), and as often as not we get into discussions about a future constituents third cousin twice removed who used to live in London, and isnt London wonderful so why did you come here?
That answers simple: Greenwich really is special. My family and I chose this place to settle all those years ago, and in fact, we made a second choice after I left my big corporate career that we would never retire to Florida and that we would see out our days in this, our home, Greenwich.
With increasing artfulness I steer doorstep conversations back to local issues, away from British origins and also away from national politics.
Sometimes the floodgates open: Why dont we have a sidewalk here, what are you going to do about the schools, I told the town about that dead tree three months ago and they still havent removed it, I dont like my tax assessment, my trash collections now only once a week, look at these abandoned houses, what are you going to do about the traffic and I hate that new cell tower.
And sometimes I get the deer in the headlights. No issues? Seriously, none at all? So then its have a nice day and on to the next unsuspecting Mr. X.
There are many more doors to knock on between now and November 8th and I and my volunteers cant possibly reach everybody, so please go to my website ( www.blankleyforfirstselectman.com ). Id really like to hear from you because Ive found a joy in retail politics that has frankly surprised me and confirmed me in my purpose to bring new leadership to Greenwich and to make my hometown an even better place for all of us.
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