“IF GOD HAD MEANT FOR US TO HAVE ELECTIONS, HE WOULD BE SENDING US SOME CANDIDATES.” – Will Rogers

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This is going to be about the gentle art of persuasion through the VOTING process.

BUT FIRST – A WORD FROM MY HOUSE-MATE : If you are in or near San Francisco in December, you MUST NOT MISS: Lee Brady’s Country/Western Musical –

“SOUTHERN LIGHTS,” which returns after several years.

“Southern Lights” was first performed in the Bay Area a few years ago and won just about every award from the Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle (BATCC), including best musical, best actor and actress in a musical and best song (“Southern Lights,” which was written by Julie Jackson, Lee’s niece.)

“Southern Lights” previews on December 5th and runs from December 7 th through December 22d – evenings, with Saturday and Sunday matinees.

TICKETS are available at: 3girlstheatre.org.

VOTE EARLY AND OFTEN

Voted early – took my dog we peed on every poll and log never sought out crowds of ten mostly tart and brazen men who followed us with ballot boxes citing news they got from foxes. We did not go to mark their X’s their swollen pride and sober plexus we wished to be (my dog and me) just freely there – A Canine pair – We peed again and scurried home- just cannot leave shy pups alone.

* Charles Brady

With our recent hotly contested mid-term elections behind us, I’d like to share a few tales about the gentle practice of VOTING. It’s not as simple as it sounds….it is not simply a raising of hands and counting.

For my choice as Supervisor for my San Francisco District, I chose (and she won, of course) the candidate who knocked on my door, introduced herself and TALKED WITH ME. We took to each other and she insisted that her companion take her photo with me. She is cute and I am not, but I have ignored the second part of this sentence for many years.

But I am away from the point.

As soon as I was old enough, and that was twenty-one in those days, I registered and have voted in every election since. And that means I voted in many foreign places like Stuttgart, Germany, Saigon, Vietnam, and Fort Polk, Louisiana. But before I was old enough to vote, I was helping to “get out” the vote. Here’s how:

In rural Georgia of the 1940s, not everyone back in the country had access to information on the many state and national candidates. Oh, we knew who was running for Sheriff, but limited radio and newspaper coverage meant the candidates spent their money on getting VOTES and not on INFORMING Voters!.

Franklin, my high school friend, had access to a truck in his tiny dirtroad community. His mother owned the local general store and a truck used for replenishing goods.

For every election, local candidates would hire my friend Franklin to haul around and plaster every wall and pole with signs saying “VOTE FOR. BILLY BOB” (for example)” That’s it – nothing more than: Vote for BILLY BOB!

The strategy was simple: Voters would see and remember that one name only, or would see that name more often, and the candidate buying the largest posters and hiring distributors like my friend Franklin was counting on “bigger is better.”

A saying would always be heard in area honkytonks: “Vote early and vote often!.”

The only relative of mine ever to have been elected to public office was my Great Uncle Robert “Bob” Brady of Clinch County, Georgia. He and my Great Grandfather, Thomas Asa Brady, and their three other brothers – all poor tenant farmers – had enlisted in the Confederate Army on the same day in March of 1862.

In 1865, my Great Grandfather returned and settled in Florida, just south of the Georgia line on a pension of $5 per month for his three wounds.

But great Uncle Bob returned home and ran for and was elected Sheriff of Clinch County (Homerville). My research shows that newspapers of the time seemed to think he was

doing a good job. However, he had gone south to pick up a bad man and bring him to Justice in Homerville. That guy’s family and friends took offense, surrounded Uncle Bob’s house, called him to the porch and shot and killed him and his brother Edward.

What happened to Uncle Bob Brady may have scared off the rest of the family from wanting to run for office and from volunteering.

There was also a story, probably untrue, about the candidate for Mayor of Hahira, Georgia. He ran and received only about a dozen votes, after which he placed an ad in the town weekly thanking his few supporters but adding that he had applied for a pistol permit because, “A man with only a dozen friends in a town this size had better be ready to defend himself.”

In 1976, while Principal of the Zuni Indian School in New Mexico, I was chosen by my Party to be a McKinley County Delegate to the State Convention in Albuquerque. We got to know each other at our meetings and had already divided into two groups before showing up in Albuquerque. There we met and ultimately our County Caucus split about even – half for Jimmy Carter and half for Mo Udall.

A “Jerry Brown For President” group was present and, I kid you not, they were passing out Brownies at a folding table. In case you forgot, Jerry placed second in popular votes in the Democratic Primary, winning three states, and George Wallace won three states, securing more popular votes than Mo Udall or Frank Church.

That year was the only one in which my party knew I was alive. Too bad – I kind of miss that gathering into groups and arguing…without calling each other vile names

And now, I’d like to share a story that pleased me at the time and continues to please me when I think of it.

Even though there was high interest in the Mid Terms just completed, and both major parties worked hard to get every eligible voter to the polls, according to surveys, only 47 Percent of all eligible voters actually voted this month!

Back in the 1980’s, almost on a whim, I signed up with the City to work at one of our polling places. I took the few hours of training and on the day, went out to my assigned place, a garage in the Avenues, and worked. It was a pretty active day, but the highlight was when two Russian Immigrant couples came in, dressed formally – men in suits and ties and hats and their wives in their Sunday best. In their sixties or seventies, they proudly told me that this was the FIRST TIME in their lives that they had ever voted or had been expected to vote!

They were obviously PROUD to be American Citizens and they were PROUD to have the privilege of VOTING! Because it was for them an extra special occasion, they took their time, asked questions and took pains to follow every direction.

I am certain that when THOSE Americans got home, they celebrated!

In the recent election, I hope your favorite candidates and options won or made a decent showing. As for me, I won some and lost some and that is the way it should be. Hard to

believe, but it is just possible that I may not be right all the time!

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