The campaign workers inside the school were awake today (most of them were asleep last week, and looked annoyed that I disturbed their paid naps when I entered the gym to cast my vote). I entered the booth and opted to do the easy stuff first: the No on the referendum question, and then worked up from there. I had been toying with writing in someone else for mayor, but apparently that is not possible in a runoff, as the write-in side was taped over. As much as that sucks (and may contribute to some election irregularities, since, I'm told the absentee ballots had the option for write ins), it makes enough sense; otherwise we'll be voting every month for the rest of our lives, unable to get a victor at that 50%+1 required by our form of government here in Trenton. I stared at my options: Manny Segura and Tony Mack, for what seemed like several minutes. I thought about the arguments in favor of each of them. There weren't many. I thought about the abundant arguments against each of them. I thought about the burden of voting; writing someone else's name in would not be helpful, even if I could. It frigging sucks to have to ponder two candidates and decide which is least offensive. It's not a matter of party differences, or disagreement on issues with this election, as is the case in many other contests. If only! Trenton has two egregiously flawed candidates for mayor; the only positive aspect of this is that we get to slam the door on an inept mayor and an inept council who drove this city into ruins. There's a good chance the new team can't do any worse, even though I have seen, firsthand, that when you hit rock bottom, as soon as you brush yourself off and begin your climb, you can easily fall back to the bottom again. I hope that doesn't happen here. But it probably will. Please prove me wrong.
I cast my vote, and headed out. I had to kick some trash out of the way on the cement steps, leading to Olden Avenue, so my toddler wouldn't trip. Even the litter all over the place couldn't utterly ruin this beautiful day, so I decided to take Matty to Dunkin Donuts for some Munchkins. On our way up Olden, I admired many front yard gardens: a lot of people are working to improve this section of street. There were flowers everywhere, pretty baskets, and urns with flora spilling out. It never ceases to amaze me that we humans are capable of feeling so many complex and often conflicting emotions at once. Seconds ago, a short list of names left me feeling hopeless. Here, in front of some homes in an edgy part of town, hope returned. We the people are the ones who will turn this place around; some of us already are.
In one yard, I noticed some young, newly planted portulaca nestled in a bed of mulch. Growing out of the plant in the center was, I'm quite sure, a small marijuana plant. Right out in the open on Olden Avenue. "Where else does that happen?" I asked Matthew. "Nowhere," I answered for him.
Marijuana and portulaca on Olden Avenue.
The lady at the doughnut shop gave Matty his own glazed Munchkin, and my happy boy and I began our walk home. We took Hamilton Avenue, and I noticed a basic, but effective "Kesner Dufresne for East Ward Council" sign in front of the tax joint. My unease about the election morphed into sorrow about Kesner. Just a few weeks ago, Kesner had potent dreams to serve the city; proof of his desire was stuck firmly in the earth, though now, Kesner himself is gone.
I pondered the mysteries of the universe, and looked down at Matty's sticky face. We rounded the corner, and encountered a skinny, focused woman with a pile of literature. "Vote for Tony Mack," she said, and offered me a flier.
"I just did," I told her. But I'm not sure why, I said under my breath to my little boy, even though he was getting tired, and doesn't care about politics yet, anyway.
"Good!" she said. "And, oh yeah! I hope you voted NO on the referendum!" she said to me.
"Done!" I called back to her.
"That's right! We need to keep our jobs here," she said.
Hope returned again.
Most of the people in the city don't give a crap about the emotional roller coaster ride I've had this morning, and they don't care about whether or not American Water is told, officially, to beat it. This lopsidedness in caring among my fellow Trentonians is distressing to me, but it is what it is right now. If things go the way they should, the engaged minority will see plenty of victories tonight: we'll defeat the referendum, and a new group of our neighbors will be sworn in to serve, and hopefully, inspire, not only those of us who are active in civic affairs, but those who are disenfranchised as well.
I'm looking forward to watching the numbers come in tonight, and eating some Munchkins. Good luck Trenton!