How I Almost Ran for the State Legislature

How I Almost Ran for the State Legislature

A recent post on Presidential campaigning prompted several fun replies that jogged an amusing memory.

I have been a president. Twice.

I was elected president of my 7th grade class. Deephaven Junior High had two feeder elementary schools, so roughly half of the electorate did not know one of the two candidates.  The election was near the start of school. After my victory, I was told that many of the students from the other school did not like their candidate, feeling that he was stuck up, and so voted for me, the guy they did not know.

Jerry was not stuck up at all and became a good friend. He was also the MVP of the state basketball tournament my school won, on a team I was cut from, so it all worked out for him rather well. The best memory of my term in office was being sent to a student leadership conference where I met famed Olympian Jesse Owens.

In 1976 I became president again, this time of LWEA, my district teacher association. It was a tumultuous time in education, as teachers had finally been awarded the right to bargain for a master contract. I ran unopposed for a second term in 1977 and received 93% of the vote. My ego had grown to such an extent that I wondered who those 7% were. 

In those two years teacher salaries went up by over 20%, but inflation ate most of that, We also had the first strike vote in district history, and then the first strike, and then the 2nd strike just as I was leaving office, where I served as the LWEA spokesperson, although I think that term had yet to be invented.  And then there was dealing with the school that burned to the ground and a run of three Superintendents in the span of the two years. 

It was an interesting time.

Thorough all of this I gained a dollop of notoriety, with a guest spot on a radio call-in show about teachers on strike, some TV sound bites, and frequent appearances in the newspaper.

Side story I cannot let go by. When I was on the radio show, the host was trying to be as provocative as he could, asking me “tough” questions while smiling at me over a cup of coffee.  I was well prepared for this and was doing well. Then he had a call from a listener. This woman went off on a several minute long rant about the value of a strong public education system, starting with the Greeks, and summing up with the statement that all teachers were underpaid and should be given massive raises. The she asked a question.

After a pause, I started with “First of all, I’d like to thank Mom for calling in this morning…”   The host doubled over in trying the stifle his laughter, and pretty much had coffee coming out of his nose. A great moment!

Over time I was given credit for a lot of accomplishments that were not really mine.  A lot of tremendous things were done by an inspired crew of hard working volunteers who wished to remain anonymous for various reasons.  A lot of people thought that I did a great deal more than I did.

Among other perks, this gained me a lunch with a prominent local attorney, who was interested in having me join his firm as a law clerk. He explained that in this state you could “clerk to the bar.” If you worked as a law clerk for 6 years and then passed the bar exam you would be an attorney – no law degree required. The reason for the lunch was that he had read the contract we had just negotiated. He thought I had written in. When I explained that I had merely signed the contract which contractually bound all of the teachers in the district and not actually read it, the lunch ended rather quickly.  I will never forget the look on his face when I told him I had signed the contract but not read it. My explanation that I did not need to read it because several others had did not impress him in the slightest.

Now that I have set the stage, we move forward to the fall of 1978. I was returning to the classroom, but at the same time I was contacted by the Democrats of the 45th district with a request that I run for the state legislature as a representative. This was astonishing, but they were quite clear in their reasoning. Democrats NEVER won in the 45th district at the time, but in the previous two elections people who were “interesting” had run, labeling themselves as Democrats. The party leaders were tired of folks running under their label that listened to aliens or wore tin foil hats so they would not receive such communications. They wanted a candidate who would be “reasonable” and run a small campaign before losing, without embarrassing the party.  Made sense to me.

It seemed to me to be a tremendous honor, even as stated. How many people ever have such an opportunity?  I consulted several people I’d come to know and respect in the political community and decided I should do this.

Susan was horrified and utterly opposed. She pointed out that if I were elected I’d need a long term sub for the duration of the legislative session and would be away from our two young children for extended periods of time.

“But,” I pointed out, “there’s no way I could win. This is a chance to have fun during the campaign, learn a great deal, and lose with dignity.”

“Oh no,” she replied.  “I know you. You’ll figure out a way to win, and then where will we be?”

What a great line!  I had no response, since I was secretly already planning ways that I could win. Fortunately, and belatedly, I had a vague memory of a re-districting. We had moved to our current house and few months before, and sure enough, we no longer lived in the 45th district.

Thus my political career ended before it began.

All for the best, I’m quite sure.

 

 

Copyright 2015            David Preston

 

About david

I am a 69 year old motorsports nut who lives in Bothell, Washington. After a 31 year career as an English teacher, I segued into a self-created job in the motorsports business. Now retired, I was involved in customer relations for Ride West BMW in Seattle, after almost 10 years of similar work for the Cycle Barn MotorSports Group. I have been married forever and have two grown children. I own, at the current time, a Triumph Bonneville T 120 , a Triumph Thruxton, a Fiat 500S and a VW Tiguan. What else would you like to know?
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