Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Voting and hope

I am back from voting, and I feel a little dirty. I walked over to Hedgepeth-Williams for the third time in about a month, and the school grounds were filthier than the previous two times, combined. No condom boxes or dead birds this time, though, at least. But it looked like the front office for a landfill on a windy day, for sure.

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!


Captain Har said...

I made the trek myself today. This time I was number 43 instead of 3 like last week. My NO vote was recorded. Manny got the nod, because I don't think Mack can balance his checkbook let alone a city budget, this opinion comes from his past financial transgressions.

I was a little pissed to see a vote yes sticker on the front of my Times newspaper this morning, they sold out for a few thousand dollars of advertising revenue.

I wonder if the reefer plant grew by itself or someone was dumb enough to plant it on their front lawn.

Chrissy Ott said...

I was so close to voting for Manny, but my finger more or less pressed the Mack button. I'd feel lousy, either way. I don't get a clear sense that Manny is really FOR Trenton, and Mack, for all of his money woes, at least pledged to bring on reputable help, like George Dougherty, and he's firmly on the NO side of the water deal. The water deal will have repercussions long past the term/s of the next mayor, so I felt good about that, at least.

The mayoral election is lose-lose I think, and it depresses me.

I agree with you about The Times. They more or less closed their office here a couple of years ago, and are now totally irrelevant to this city; that sticker proves it.

It is a reefer plant, isn't it?! I'm not a druggie, but am pretty good with plant IDs, and I did a Google Image search before I posted my blog, and sure enough, it looks like pot to me! But, I have a Japanese maple with similarly shaped leaves, though the color is TOTALLY different! I just wish I got a better picture. I might go back with my real camera later.

Anonymous said...

It could also be cleome, which looks and smells like pot, but has really cool flowers. Here's hoping!

Mister Clean said...

We, too, took a lovely stroll to our South Ward polling place. I felt so fucking VIOLATED on the way to the polls, realizing the wretched choice that awaited us.

It's like someone comes up to you and says "Would you like to die of AIDS, or would you like to die of cancer?" or "Would you like your left eye poked out, or your right eye poked out?" That's how it felt.

I wouldn't be surprised if the combined "family" Mayor vote was a wash, and neither one of use could be bothered to select a third At-Large Councilthing. Gone was the write-in option, so "PALMER IS A TWAT" didn't get my vote.

On the way home, I was revolted anew, at just how horrible my 'hood has gotten. Nine out of ever ten properties, I wouldn't let an animal live there. That doesn't stop animals from occupying them, but I digress. You miss a lot when you only see your streets from a car window.

Fuck Manny, Fuck Mack, and Fuck YES.

Chrissy Ott said...

I'm wondering if there will be any voting irregularities?? I've been watching the results come in on the county page, and can plainly see "personal choice" was allowed in the mail-in ballots, and also some of the polls may have had the option as well. The write in side was definitely taped over in my booth in East 6. I'm really not sure that it will matter in the end, but still, what a load of crap.

Clean, I hope we all feel better tomorrow. I mean, at least the crimes we committed against our dignity will be in the past.

Anon: I just "google imaged" cleome, and wow! It sure does look a lot like pot -- at least the leaves. I might walk back over to Olden tomorrow and get a better look at that plant!

Captain Har said...

As someone that came of age in the 60's I can say beyond all doubt that what you photographed is known as "Cannabis Sativa".

How about that Tony Mack, almost causing a riot because he didn't pay his street people their street money.

Anonymous said...

Well....I voted NO on the water deal, chose my Council faves but skipped the Mayoral vote.

I could not vote for either of the presented idiots and feel good about myself afterwards. Choosing the best of the worst is not a way to choose a leader.

Perhaps in 4 years someone will step up who DESERVES my vote.

Neither Mack or Segura have done anything for Trenton to deserve my support.

Each has had more than enough time to make a difference but neither has.

Chrissy Ott said...

Hey Anon 2, I've been thinking about your comment for the last week, and I wish I had done what you did: just not voted for that particular contest. I feel violated, but like I deserved it, you know?


At the same time, I hope that within each of us, even the pretty big morons and self-serving pricks, that maybe, MAYBE, there are also a few redeeming qualities. Perhaps with the right set of circumstances, surrounded by the right people, our new mayor can do right by Trenton. Yesterday's news of the massive layoffs -- particularly among the cops and fire personnel -- does not give me too much hope. But we'll see, I guess.