Psych! Of course I did not win nor did I expect to win the election for Town Councilmember. As many know, the write-in campaign launched just two weeks before Election Day and consisted of one letter to the local paper, some emails/social media posts, and lawn signs declaring, "Bedford deserves a choice". Talk about grassroots! Nevertheless, I do have some wins that I'm proud of which proved the statement all worthwhile:
772 Bedford voters wrote-in my name on the ballot - that's nearly 15% of all votes cast for the seat. This support came in spite of the fact that there was no campaigning or fundraising... heck, I didn't even have my name on the ballot! Truth be told, friends launching the write-in campaign hoped I'd just hit triple digits - so to receive nearly eight times that is something I'm truly honored and touched by.
I succeeded in getting the message out that people here in town don't care whether you are a Republican or Democrat at this local level. I heard from so many people - friends, neighbors and complete strangers - who messaged me over the last few weeks to tell me just that. It's refreshing and reassuring to hear these days when things seem so divisive and tribalistic. Partisans may be loud, but truly, there is no Republican or Democrat way to plow a road or chop down a tree.
Nearly 800 of us sent a message that cannot be ignored. Whether you wrote my name in as a protest to the lack of choice on the ballot, or your dissatisfaction with the one-sided, partisan, status quo here in town - I hope that the members of our Town Council feel some level of awareness and accountability going forward. There's no doubt that this write-in campaign about candidate choice (last I checked, that's kind of necessary for a democracy) caught them off guard. Case in point - an 11th hour fundraising initiative.
At the same time, there are some things that I'm not proud to have learned over these last few weeks:
The old adage is true - politics is indeed a dirty game. I suppose I was a bit naïve when assuming that I wouldn't encounter any of that at the local level, but - wow - was I wrong. Councilwoman Bobbi Bittker personally attacked me in an email sent out to her followers just hours before chumming up to me at a Town event. Mark Dembo - Chairman of the Bedford Democratic Committee - who just a few months ago emailed me these words after a lovely conversation at Tazza: "...it is good to see people getting involved locally. At the end of the day, I do truly believe that anyone who gets involved in this craziness has best intentions to make things better" ; changed his tune in a social media post shortly after my write-in campaign launched, writing: "...there are those who will proclaim that party at the local level doesn't matter. And you know who is usually spouting those specious claims? Those who know that if they really shared their real views they would never get elected." Shame on both of them: one a partisan posing as a public servant and the other a behind-the-scenes coordinator of the one-party mudsling in town. If only they adopted the words of former first lady Michelle Obama: when they go low, we go high.
There is a small contingency here in town - led seemingly by the aforementioned - who truly do view politics as a zero sum game given their messaging in the days leading up to Election Day. They fought hard to defame a newcomer like me in a write-in campaign which served as a statement about giving voters a choice. But ultimately, I have to laugh it off. Anyone so intent on maintaining town council power that they would attempt to scare or intimidate someone who challenges their stranglehold, has to have a screw loose or something. To be clear, being elected to Town Council is a serious responsibility, but it shouldn't be about power. It should be about public service to the people... all the people, including Democrats, Republicans, Independents, unaffiliated, and all stripes.
In closing, I want to thank every single one of you who wrote me in and reached out with supportive words and feedback. For those who are still curious "who is Mike Palladino and what's with those pink signs?", ping me and let's chat (contact info below). I don't know what's in store for next year but I will tell you this: I love this town and will always want what's best for all of us here. If I can accomplish that with what I'm doing today - heavy involvement in Town of Bedford committees, attending bi-weekly Town Board meetings, and relaying pertinent information to friends, neighbors and followers/subscribers - then I'm proud. And given the experience of this past election season, I promise you that I will not be bullied into staying in my lane or intimidated out of supporting my town and all our neighbors. I encourage you all to participate just the same and I will enthusiastically be there with you.