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What I Have Learned

Nov. 5 has come and gone. Municipal elections are over. We get to take a little breather before we steam ahead into the 2020 election year.

I wanted to take a moment to let everyone know what I learned this year.

But first, some results: Union-endorsed candidates had a 69% win rate this year.

One more time: Union-endorsed candidates had a 69% win rate this year.

Like many union members I've volunteered each year for political candidates whom I believe in, but this year was different for me.

For those who do not know, this year I put my name on a ballot. I ran for town council in my town (Plainville).

I didn't do this on a whim. I thought about it, long and hard. I did some research.

I took the Connecticut AFL-CIO Path to Power course. That course taught me how to look at the analytics when running for office. For those who've never door knocked, it taught you how to step up and talk to people.

I've never had a problem talking to union members. We have a common bond, and hopefully a common goal. We are hopefully coming from the same place or headed in the same direction.

This year I did step out of my comfort zone. I tried to talk to the other side of the aisle. I was hung up on. I had doors slammed in my face.

While I was not one of the union-endorsed winners, I was proud of the effort I put in. I was excited for those who volunteered and came out to help me.

Some of the research I was able to look at was past elections, vote counts, and target numbers.

Two years ago the lowest vote total to get on the town council in Plainville was 1,500. I received 1,600 votes this year. I had a target number, I hit that number. (Apparently I set that bar to low.)

I was interviewed multiple times by print newspapers, asking about my plans. Each time I said I wanted to get more people involved. In my opinion, voter turnout is abysmal in Plainville.

in 2015 and 2017, for municipal elections we had 22% and 23% respectively. This year, Plainville reached 29% voter turnout. That is an increase of more than 25% over the last election. It wasn't I alone, but I'd say we got more people involved. We also ran as a slate, the Plainville Dems: five people for town council, four people for board of education, constables, and a library trustee. We worked together. I knocked doors every weekend in Plainville this year. I had union friends come help. And our whole team worked together.

Election night was bittersweet, I found out quickly I did not win a seat on the town council. That was the first thing we learned, the council stayed as is, all seven incumbents won, and the council stayed in Republican hands 4-3. Everyone at HQ was a little quiet not knowing how to react.

We all went out for a drink after all that hard work. People were guarded when coming over to talk with me. I laughed (really), I said we lost nothing here. We did not gain any seats on the town council. But we also did not lose any. We did however sweep every other race on the ballot. The board of education is now a 6-3 Democrat majority.

The only other thing that surprise me this year was simple dishonesty of people. I can handle getting yelled at or having a door slammed in my face. Everyone can have a bad day, but when you have someone say to you, "I vote in every election" and you are looking at the numbers, looking over past elections, seeing they are lying to you? You can't ask why; you want to, but you can't. Is this person saying this because they think it's what I want to hear? Or is this person just trying to end the conversation quickly? Or maybe they are ashamed that they haven't voted and don't know you can tell? I don't know...

Our right to vote is possibly our most important right of all, to have a say in the leadership of your union, town, state, or country. People have died for that right. Exercise your right.

Rest assured, next year I will be out door knocking for our state and national elections. I hope to see you out there.

—In solidarity, Bill Garrity

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