General Flash Fiction posted April 5, 2016


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School board candidate seeks one man's vote.

The Candidate

by RodG


I was reseeding some bare spots in the lawn when he shuffled up the drive-way and stopped.

"Throw on a handful of mushroom mulch if you want strong roots."

I glowered. "If you're a landscaper looking for my business, you're outa luck. Do everything myself."

"Nope," he chuckled. "I'm a candidate looking for your vote."

I let my eyes wander over the thin-haired fellow who looked about my age but carried far less bulk around the belt-line. Soft brown eyes peered through wire-framed glasses riding a long nose. His thin lips smiled.

"Don't look like a politician," I declared. "Whatcha running for?"

"The school board."

"Hmmph. Read that the superintendent just quit."

"His contract expired."

I smirked. "If you were already a board member, would you have voted to renew it?"

"Nope. He proved he couldn't do the job."

"How would you know that?"

He glanced at the sun above us. "Getting too hot to talk out here. Can we take refuge on your porch?"

I nodded, led him there, and pointed to two Adirondacks.

"Take your pick, Mr. . . . uh?"

"Grayson. Hugh Grayson." He shook my hand. "And you, sir?"

"Allen Berke."

After we both were seated, I repeated my question.

"I live in Oakdale and taught at OHS thirty-four years. I'm retired, but I stay in touch with faculty, students, and parents. For a number of reasons, the man was not popular. I think we can choose a worthy replacement, and . . . if I'm elected, we will."

"That Grayson," I said, grinning.

He lifted an eyebrow.

"The biology teacher."

He nodded.

"My daughter Stephanie had you."

"Stephanie . . . Berke. Yes. Long brown hair which she often wore in pig-tails. A bit of a rebel, that one. Struggled." His smile flickered, but not his steady gaze. "What is she doing now?"

I showed him lots of teeth. "Married a big-time scientist, an astral-physicist. They live in California where she home schools my grandson Billy. He's almost seven."

"Good . . . good for her," he said. His smile had moved into his eyes.

"The man's sincere," I thought.

"Got some ice tea made. Want some?"

"No, Mr. Berke. I should be moving on."

"Okay, but tell me why you're any better than those guys." I pointed at a campaign sign in my neighbor's yard.

"Well . . . to some extent they're all qualified. One's an incumbent and an accountant quite familiar with the district finances; another's a lawyer very familiar with school law; and the third . . . a housewife/activist whose three kids went to OHS."

I laughed. "Seems you're talking yourself out of a vote, Mr. Grayson, since I can only vote for three."

His smile faded, but his eyes shone. "This community deserves better, Mr. Berke. The incumbent and his colleagues wasted your tax money on legal fees and excessively-priced school improvements. The district has high-priced lawyers on retainer, so why's this one necessary? And there are two housewives and a father already on the board. Do we need another?"

He leaned toward me. "But do they have anyone who really has a background in education? Who knows the staff intimately, who understands our students' needs, and who can intelligently address any of the hot issues like common-core curriculum, standardized testing, and teacher contracts? No!"

"But isn't the job of a superintendent and his assistants, all seasoned educators, to know all that?" I heard my voice rising. "I thought school boards merely heed their advice and vote when necessary."

"Yes, it is their job to know all that, Mr. Berke, but this board has hired two superintendents since the last election four years ago. Neither stayed long enough to learn his role. What this district needs most is continuity, and I can give them that. I'll gladly work with any administrator, help him any way I can, and stay on the job till my term expires. I guarantee that."

I smiled. "You talk like a man with true conviction."

He rose and shook his head. "I get a little heated sometimes, I guess." A slow grin wrinkled his lips. "In the classroom I--I'd go off like this every day it seems. Ask your daughter. She'll remember."

"Will do," I said, shaking his hand.

We shared a smile, and he departed. When he was half-way across the lawn, I yelled, "Wait! Those three are caucus-endorsed. Who's behind you?"

"I'm hoping the community, Mr. Berke." He pointed at my lawn's bare spots. "Mine's an old-fashioned grass-roots, door-to-door campaign."

I laughed. "If you got any signs, drop one by. I"ll stick it in my lawn."

I voted for him. So did my wife and most of my neighbors.

He won, and so did we.


Political Flash Fiction contest entry

Recognized


The clipart is courtesy of Google images.

This is totally fiction, but I have met candidates like this.

With all the hoopla about the presidential campaign, many people have forgotten that there are local elections on the same ballot next November. School board races are often overlooked; people often don't take the time to meet the candidates or understand the key issues. But these elections can ultimately affect your children's education. Please take them seriously and elect the right candidate(s).

A caucus is a small group of village leaders commonly used in a small community like mine to screen candidates and endorse the best. Unfortunately, very well-qualified candidates like Grayson are often overlooked.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.


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