Why should I vote for you?

Jeff vonKaenel

The filing date for the June primary election is only weeks away. I am not running. Not just because I would not get elected. No, it looks like too much work. Unpleasant, hard work. Asking for campaign donations cannot be fun. Nor do I see any joy in going door to door, meeting voters who do not want to meet me. And then there's the math—more people lose than win.

And even if you do win, elected office does not seem that pleasurable. I have attended numerous public meetings, and believe me, I have been grateful for my freedom to leave. Yet the work is critical. I appreciate anyone who is willing to spend the time and money to run for office, whether I agree with his or her politics or not.

As a newspaper publisher, I go to many events where I meet politicians and would-be politicians. After a prospective candidate introduces themselves, it would seem rude to say, “So, do you think it will rain soon?” Or, “What about the Giants’ pitching?” Or, “Can you believe what Kim Kardashian wore to the Emmy Awards?” No, these questions are not appropriate.

So I used to ask, “How is the campaign going?” Big mistake. The campaign is always “going well.” There are as many campaigns going well as there are cute babies. Often I know how their campaign is actually going. So, my natural follow-up question would be: “Are you lying to me, or are you just out of touch with reality?” A bit awkward.

Now I ask candidates about the important issues of the campaign. I thought this was a respectful, nonthreatening question that every candidate would jump at. Boy, was I wrong.

Many candidates cannot or will not answer this question. Some look puzzled. A few say, “I just want to give back.” Others: “I want to get rid of wasteful spending.” When I ask for specifics, I get a blank look. I have even had candidates tell me that I can’t trick them into talking about the issues.

I am not joking.

Then, there are candidates that jump at the chance to talk about issues. These candidates have real opinions and great insight, but they want to talk “off the record.” I am supposed to support them for opinions that they won’t address publicly and certainly never in their campaign materials. For, you see, their campaign materials are controlled by their highly paid political operatives who have no use for explaining political issues. Why bother when attack ads and slogans are so effective?

Without issues to cover, the media is left covering campaigns, donations and advertising messages. This is about as interesting as the Giants’ pitching rotation or as Kim Kardashian’s dress “controversy.”

So, if you are thinking of running for office and don’t have any issues to run on, I would like to make a suggestion:

Do not run.

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About the Author

Jeff vonKaenel
Jeff vonKaenel is the president, CEO and majority owner of the News & Review newspapers in Sacramento, Chico and Reno.