The friends, music and food of Campaigning

It was another night of campaigning for Mike Arcuri tonight and again I end the day tired, but a good, well-earned tired.

Like most Democrats, I need to work. Something's gotta pay the bill and I'm lucky that I have a job that I enjoy.

So after the work day, I changed into my new campaign shirt (and was pleased to see that my sewing skills had not vanished. Pretty neat to turn a Large sized shirt into a Small. But definitely a LOT easier than going the other way!) and headed to the Utica Jazz Fest on Bank Place to help the volunteers set up.

Now, going to the Jazz Fest isn't work. There were many Wednesday's last summer that I met friends down there for food, drinks, and good music. The bonus was running into other people I knew. Last week's cancellation due to the weather was a disappointment. Unfortunately, there was a good chance that I'd miss most of it this week too.

Once they were set, I popped back into my car and went back to MVCC. This time, I wasn't wearing a blue shirt of our union, but instead the same blue, but with the campaign logo. I met up with Mike there and we spent some time meeting the people who were attending the Boilermaker Block Party that celebrated East Utica's most enthusiastic crowd for the runners. It was so nice to see the quad filled with people. There's something sad about empty educational settings and even though we run classes over the summer, it's just not the same. And it was wonderful to see so many neighbors of the college stop by for a BBQ.

But, we left there and made our way to New York Mills where Mike went door-to-door. Granted, I need to take 2 for each of his steps, but the drive and energy he has for getting out there and meeting voters astounds me. Not just that he's an elected official and he knows the benefits of meeting people face to face, but that he enjoys it and genuinely likes people. And though of course we'll cross paths with the few that already decided that they wouldn't vote for him, most people are very positive and encouraging to him. Most all of them recognized him and several commented on his most recent press conference.

Between houses, we got into a conversation about why we do this, walking house to house, knocking on the doors of strangers and talking with them. Because it might make a difference and a difference has to be made. Things are going frighteningly wrong. Infidelity is a high crime and misdemeanors, oil companies are establishing national energy policies, no-child-left-behind is letting the rest of the world better educate their students, and just because it's said often enough and loud enough, lies are truth.

We do it because there is:
A duty to try to FIX something that is broken.
A duty to try to RIGHT what is wrong.
A duty to try to MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

I got chills when Mike said those words in his announcement. As a counselor and someone who's worked with kids, I've often reinforced the link between rights and responsibilities. But since the greed-first era of Reagan, as a nation we've put a great deal more importance on what "my rights are" instead of balancing it with "my responsibilities are."

Is it any wonder that Enron officials stole from the very people who helped them live the lives they had? Should we be surprised that we're paying a fortune at the gas station while New Orleans drowns and the oil companies are making more profit that ever before? And it's a good thing that Ray Meier,
"as a Co-Chair of the Senate bipartisan Task Force on Medicaid Reform, he helped enact a
cap on the local cost of the Medicaid program as part of the 2005-06 New York State budget, saving localities and taxpayers millions of dollars."

After all, we who live in Oneida County needed those dollars to pay for the additional cost that came with having the highest sales tax in the state at 9.75%. (Dollar stores became the dollar-ten stores). County legislators said that the tax had to go up to cover the additional costs for Medicaid. When the cost didn't go up as much as they thought it would, the highest sales tax in the state (and I remember hearing that it was also the highest in the country) was dropped. It was dropped a whole whopping quarter of a penny to 9.5%. They're still the dollar ten stores.

OK, back to this beautiful evening. We finally finished the houses on the street and I headed back to the Jazz Fest and dinner, good company and good music.

It was a wonderful way to end a good day.

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