Election Day is less than a week away, Tuesday, November 21. I’ve been candid in my evaluations of candidates and their views (here, here, here, here, here, and here). But this is not about that. For a few minutes, let’s step back from issues and from debating which candidates will be best for American Fork. Let’s talk about candidates as people — because I’m fairly certain all five city council candidates are human, not holograms or deep fakes or Cylons or whatever.

(This post is more opinion than information, but it doesn’t take sides. It might be comfortable for information-only readers.)

Candidates, we thank you! It’s not easy, this thing you’re doing. A lot of it isn’t fun. And in the final days before Election Day, whatever that means anymore, it’s even less fun.

No Candidate Should Run Unopposed

Even candidates I don’t support say things I enthusiastically endorse. Here’s something one of them has said at least twice in my hearing: No candidate should run unopposed.

Two years ago, I strongly supported Mayor Brad Frost’s reelection. His victory was never seriously in doubt. But I was pleased he wasn’t running unopposed in the general election. The candidate who ran against him — more or less a sacrificial candidate — wasn’t ready, and I said so. But he was a candidate, and because he was in the race, we discussed things we might not have discussed otherwise. (That candidate spent the next two years getting himself ready and is now a credible candidate for city council, but that too is beside today’s point.)

We owe a debt of gratitude to the men and women who enter races, so other candidates don’t run unopposed — even if they don’t win or never expected to win.

I’ve managed some campaigns, staffed others, and informally advised candidates for various offices over the years. I’ve seen the campaign ordeal second-hand, to be sure, but I’ve seen it up close. Many good people are uncomfortable promoting themselves door after door, day after day. Most candidates struggle to weather with equanimity the subtle and not-so-subtle barbs that come from opponents.

The Days Get Darker

The last week is often the most difficult. Candidates are exhausted physically, intellectually, and emotionally. They’re usually (and wisely) uncertain of the outcome, even if they’re likely to win. Or they’re sure they’ll be shellacked, and they might be right.

(It’s possible that I view candidates through my own introvert-colored glasses, but I’ve seen this a lot.)

Often they just want it to be over already. For a lot of candidates it gets pretty dark near the end. They’re so tired and frazzled that the slightest misfortune or delay can seem like an ill omen. The slightest disagreement, hesitation, or lack of enthusiasm from a trusted confidant or loved one can feel like a betrayal. The slightest good fortune for an opponent’s campaign can feel like the end of the world.

They’re not like this ordinarily, and they don’t want to be, and they’ll get over it sometime after the results are in. In the meantime, we can help a little.

If You See a Candidate

If you see one of our candidates between now and a week from now, say something cheerful and encouraging, besides just thanks.

Here are some things you could say to any of them — Tim Holley, Ernie John, Jeff Shorter, Ken Sumsion, or Clark Taylor. Thanks for engaging us in the debates and discussions we need to have about local issues. Thanks for putting on hold whatever parts of your lives you had to put on hold for this campaign. And take heart. Win or lose, it’s really not the end of the world.

Obviously, we ought to thank candidates’ families too. It’s not a total picnic for them either. That I know first-hand.

And here’s the part where I say . . . thanks for reading.

Image credit: DALLE-E with prompt “line and watercolor drawing of a bouquet of flowers with a thank you note attached”