#188 – Dick Bernard: Meeting the Mayor

Last evening I was invited to one of the frequent “meet the candidate” events that represent a common and important part of the American political process.
I parked on the street at the home where the event was to take place, and as it happened, at the same time I was walking up the driveway, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak joined me: he had arrived at the same time I had, just another citizen, but with a different role, that of “candidate”. He is one of many candidates for Minnesota Governor in 2010.
I’d never met the Mayor before. There was the usual small talk on the driveway, and soon we were among 20 or so citizens who were there, like I was, to meet the candidate.
I have been to many of these events over the years and they are all basically the same. Someone hosts the gathering, the candidate comes and gives his or her pitch, there are questions and answers, and we all go home.
Rybak devoted most of his time to questions and answers and was very impressive. I’m not a delegate to the state DFL (Democratic Party) Convention this weekend, so I won’t have an opportunity to get in on the formal process of deciding who the Democrats finally endorse. (I had an opportunity to run for delegate, but I declined.)
Rybak is a strong possibility as DFL endorsee, but exactly who gets the nod on Saturday is still uncertain…and following that is a Primary Election in August. There are many candidates still in the running, and all of them bring energy and commitment to their quest. It is at meetings like this that bolster my faith in the American political process. Ordinary citizens showing up, committed to make a difference.
There is plenty of time between now and the election to get to know the candidates beyond the often ridiculous rhetoric involved in attempting to destroy the competition.
Every potential candidate these days has a website, and as soon a the candidate field is decided by the political conventions, it will be a good time to visit those websites, and become an active and engaged citizen, neither blindly supporting nor rejecting one candidate or the other.
The meeting over, I walked down the same driveway, got in my car and went home. So did Mayor Rybak. Today, doubtless, he was doing the same after-hours work as he was yesterday.
Mayor Rybak knows, as do all of his fellow candidates, that politics is a tough and demanding job.
I for one respect those who care enough to want to represent me. And I hope to do what I can for the person I ultimately support, including financially.