Thoughts from a first-time Oregon City candidate
Now that the election is over, I'd like to share my thoughts as a first-time candidate for public office.
First, thank you to everyone who supported me, encouraged me and voted for me. I appreciate it very much.
Second, congratulations to Rachel Lyles Smith on her victory; I thank her for the professional way she handled her campaign. The first time we met, Rachel and I agreed to avoid personal comments or attacks, to stay positive, and to focus on the issues and our hopes for Oregon City. I think we both lived up to that fully. I wish that some of the other campaigns had done the same.
Third, thank you to Tom Geil. Between the Oregon City Raw Facebook page that he set up and the candidate interviews that he conducted for Willamette Falls Media Center, he did more to try to educate voters than anyone else. Unfortunately, the OC Raw page often turned petty and personal, as social media will often do, and the candidate interviews were viewed by very few people (more on that later).
The best aspect of running for office was the opportunity it gave me to get to know new people (and hear their concerns about our city), and the opportunity to deepen friendships with those who supported me. The worst thing? Trying to figure out how to get my message in front of voters.
1. All of the candidates participated in several candidate forums, but I would estimate that the total audience for all of those events numbered fewer than 300 people. Some evenings we had more candidates present than audience members.
2. I had a Facebook page and a website, but those platforms reached only a couple of hundred people at best. I suspect that Rachel's and the other candidates' social media results were similar.
3. Tom Geil's interviews on the WFMC channel were even-handed and well done, but the videos had few viewers. Damon Mabee's interview was viewed 900 times, but all of the others had fewer than 500 views. Even the mayoral debate was viewed only 314 times.
When the available free media platforms generate such small contact numbers, is it any surprise that candidates wanting to get their messages out feel the temptation to resort to "big money" media like direct mail pieces, billboards or more lawn signs?
Throughout the campaign, I said that this was a great time to live in Oregon City, and I still believe that. We have accomplished a great deal, but we still have huge opportunities and challenges in our future. It's my hope that we can put the personal animosities of campaign season behind us and work together respectfully to build the Oregon City that we all want. We're going to have disagreements, but let's disagree over policies, not personalities.
In the end what we all want is a better Oregon City. I look forward to being a part of the process.
Mike Mitchell is an Oregon City resident.