Often rewarding experiences come from chance encounters.
This happened to me at a labor union meeting when I learned about Linda Averill's bid for city council Position 4. After reviewing this 40-something Metro driver's political platform (included expanding health care, raising the minimum wage and establishing an elected civilian police review board), I felt inspired to become a campaign volunteer.
My motivation to participate in politics has evolved from my teenage years in Syracuse, N.Y., 27 years ago. Back then, I was a John Travolta wannabe passing out buttons and putting campaign literature on doors for the Democratic mayoral candidate.
There was an unwritten understanding that if my candidate won I would be rewarded with a "cushy" summer patronage job. Now as a middle-aged electorate, my self-serving incentive has been replaced by a genuine desire to help this University of Washington journalism and political science graduate become a Seattle City Council member.
Unexpectedly, my weekly, two-hour visits to Averill's campaign headquarters in Columbia City's New Freeway Hall have been quite gratifying. Canvassing, stuffing envelopes, putting up yard signs, putting together a float-size wooden bus and cutting veggies for a fund raising dinner have been some of my duties. Although the work sometimes is tedious, my reward is working with "Team Linda" to help this born-and-raised Seattleite get elected.
Equally fulfilling has been the opportunity to work with a group of selfless, interesting and dedicated volunteers. This cast of characters includes a librarian, maintenance worker, retired legal secretary, retired teacher, social service worker and Social Security recipient. Despite our varied ages and life experiences, we share similar views on the plight of the homeless and uninsured, our environment's precarious state, and the Iraq quagmire. Furthermore, we unanimously believe this progressive leader is part of the solution.
Unfortunately, as a working class candidate without name recognition or prodigious funding, Averill has impediments to overcome. Notwithstanding, her association with the "S" word poses a formidable barrier since Socialists are routinely dismissed as quirky, sideshow candidates.
Socialism, for some, conjures up images of Stalin's gulags. This is as illogical as equating Capitalism with the savings-and-loan and Enron debacles. Both are deviations from their respected ideologies. Nonetheless, from my experience, Socialists tend to shun materialism, entrust government and help the poor. In contrast, Capitalist's generally embrace materialism, distrust government and neglect the poor.
When there is a diversity of perspectives, a responsive, effective and respected city council can thrive. As a feminist union bus driver, Linda would complement the wealthy, male-professional class that disproportionately holds most political offices while simultaneously advocating for the disenfranchised.
Observing how she leads through example while inspiring a committed cadre of volunteers, demonstrates that satisfaction and meaning can be derived absent of material gain through service to others. Win or lose, Linda Averill's campaign represents a grassroots movement to expand the current, entrenched monolithic two-party system.
Please send South End resident Joe Kadushin your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.[[In-content Ad]]