Election Day campaigning in Avon
AVON ” Like the vampire who can’t enter a church, Avon Town Council candidate Pete Buckley couldn’t go within 100 feet of a polling place while campaigning.
So on Election Day, Buckley parked himself right on the 100-foot line outside the Avon Town Hall, armed with a “Vote for Buckley” sign and a cooler full of Hershey Kisses and Butterfingers he doled out to voters.
“They only get their treat on their way out after they vote,” Buckley said.
Just hours before the votes were counted, Buckley said he felt confident.
“Asking Pete Buckley what his chances are in the Avon election is like asking if Notre Dame knows how to play football,” Buckley said.
Buckley’s opponents and fellow candidates took their positions farther from town hall but in spots with more visibility along Benchmark Road. Arriving at their posts at 7 a.m. ” when the polls opened ” the candidates braved the cold, windy early morning weather and were grateful when the day warmed up, shedding layers of clothing.
Perched atop the large wooden Avon Town Hall sign, candidate Dave Dantas waved his sign and tried to avoid knocking candidate Karri Willemssen’s over. Willemssen’s dad had left her sign propped up against Dantas’ perch, and Dantas couldn’t seem to stop kicking it, though he quickly righted the sign each time.
Dantas said he felt good about his chances at a win, but win or lose, the experience of campaigning was worth it.
“I’m glad I did it,” he said. “I got to meet so many people and talk to people that I haven’t talked to in a long time. I learned that most people just want someone who’s reasonable in town. There’s a few groups that are kind of on the far ends that are pushing their agendas, but most people are somewhere in the middle.”
From across the street, candidate Rich Carroll seconded the motion.
One by one, the candidates stole away to vote. Carroll opted for a paper ballot to speed the process, so he could get back out to the side of the road. Later in the afternoon, Carroll’s 5-year-old twins joined their father to wave more signs. Carroll acknowledged his daughters have been more excited about roadside campaigning than he ” they’ve just got more energy than their dad.
Election Day was the first time all the candidates gathered informally, and, for the most part, it was fun, Willemssen said. And although Buckley called the two groups of campaigners the Hatfields and McCoys, several candidates walked between groups.
“The whole process has been very educational,” Willemssen said, adding she never expected to encounter so many different points of views as she campaigned. “The negativity was disappointing, but I’m glad I wasn’t personally a part of it.”
Down the street, current Avon Mayor and candidate Ron Wolfe echoed disapproval for the election season that included negative postcards, phone polls and advertisements.
“It’s been very different in prior years,” Wolfe said. “It’s been harder on all candidates … We’ve drifted way far away from the real issues, which is sad.”
Wolfe said he’s had to spend more time and money to overcome the negativity, and he blamed the local Republican party, of which he’s a member, for the misrepresentations. Whether he gets another term on council or not, Wolfe said he will work to give a voice to more moderate Republicans in the future.
A target of negative postcards, Councilman and candidate Brian Sipes, said he wanted to put the campaign behind him and focus on the final hours of campaigning. He blasted music from his car and even brought in his parents from St. Louis to help him campaign.
“We were out Friday night waving signs when Brian was at work,” Sipes mother, Carol, said. “We didn’t get anything negative. It’s been fun. It seems like the candidates respect each other, for the most part.”
Staff Writer Nicole Frey can be reached at 748-2927 or firstname.lastname@example.org.