I live in Ohio now, but when I lived in West Virginia, you declare your party affiliation when you register to vote. The first time I registered to vote in Charleston, the Board of Elections employee asked me for my party affiliation. I said “Independent” and she rolled her eyes. I thought it was funny and didn’t think much more about it, but I still remember it all these years later.
It becomes increasingly clear to me, as politics on a national and state level becomes even more bitterly divided, that most folks aren’t toeing the party lines, not really. Not in their beliefs or how they live their lives. Most Americans agree on quite a lot, when you spend time talking to them and get down to brass tacks.
When I started paying attention to local government, I discovered that the “in club” mentality we see on a national level has leeched into local politics. Unwritten rules of engagement. A lot of “that’s just not how it’s done” or “you have to wait your turn.” Obscenely little discussion of the issues that REALLY matter on a local level and those we have the power to actually change. Why weren’t local parties and their elected officials talking about the 26% poverty rate in Marietta? The fact that our population is in freefall? The lack of public transportation and accessibility? The dilapidated state of our roads and sidewalks? The empty storefronts, shuttered businesses? I’m not saying Americans shouldn’t care about national issues, but the endless hand wringing is exhausting, especially when there are changes we can make right here at home that better our city. Change that affects the lives of our residents starts on a local level, not a state or national level. If we want to improve the quality of life for residents of our city, it starts with us, right now, at 301 Putnam Street. Not Columbus. Not Washington.
It became clear that it’s time for independent candidates, folks who aren’t beholden to big agendas or the machinations of party leaders. I think Marietta deserves a different kind of leader. Someone who isn’t in the good ol’ boys club.
I’m not in the club. I’m not trying to be in the club. The benefit of an independent candidate is clear. I don’t care about making sure other politicians like me. I don’t have to give favors to members of my party or answer to a party chair or executive committee. I work for one body - the taxpayers. Most registered voters in Marietta are like me, they don’t affiliate with a party. Am I breaking the rules by running as an independent? You bet. Marietta has never had an independent mayor. In 2024, let’s change that.