Friday, May 22, 2009

HeraldTrib Today, May 22, 2009

How to reach voters in apartments…

One distinct difference between owning a single-family home and a garden-style townhouse, I’ve found, is the number of times people knock on my door politicking for something.

I lost count of the number of times someone tried to get me to vote for Obama. And three of the five candidates for the House of Delegates race for the 47th have made their appearance, though I was only home for one of them (Alan Howze). Andres Tobar has not made it, as far as I know, and Adam Parkhomenko told me after the ACDC debate that he skipped my house because he knew I was Patrick Hope’s friend, and he did not want to take time talking with someone he was sure wouldn’t vote for him anyway.

When I lived in the Arlington Oaks townhouse, Josh Ruebner the Green Party candidate running for County Board at the time, was the only candidate in 10 years to show up at my door, as far as I recall. I wasn't home, so he left a flier.

All that got me thinking a month ago, so I started sending out emails to people I know living in apartments, and those people have had largely the same experience that I had—no one came calling.

In a recent interview, Miles Grant, who is one of the five running for the House of Delegates' 47th seat, said that he did not get any serious contact from Obamites in the run-up to last year’s primary though, as a member of Arlington Young Democrats, he was a likely primary voter!

Miles lives in Historic Ballston Park (near the Eastern Carry-Out), and swung by my house about a month ago.

Alexandra Morrow, of Arlington Oaks, wrote me an email about a month ago:

“I have not had anyone and personally am thankful I have not. After a long day, I really don't want to contend with people buzzing and trying to gain access to the units. They may avoid us because you do have to gain access not only to the units but then to the doors, and no one wants to be that one person who let's them in!

“I never had anyone knock on my door for the presidential election either, nor did I see anyone around the neighborhood. My guess is they know their time is better spent on communities where they don't have to work as hard just to get to the front door.”

It’s interesting to me, given that it shows off two of the concerns the candidates expressed to me: they don’t want to appear pushy or as though they are somehow invading privacy, and they don’t want to spend time just trying to get through the main door only to find hostile people at the apartment door.

People at the Buckingham Outreach Center, on the Gates of Ballston property, said they had not heard of candidates canvassing there. Writer, HeraldTrib columnist, and Chatham resident Vic Socotra said no one had knocked on his door, ever.

The only person in a complex who said they did get activity was Tom Lauria, in Hyde Park Condominium. They are a rather politically active bunch (I went to a meeting with Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple there a couple years back). The way the meetings were described, however, was that someone invited the candidate in to the community room, and people came from apartments to meet that person.

That fits more with what the candidates say they do. They tell me they find friends in the different places and ask those friends to set-up meet-and-greets of different sorts, breakfasts, happy hours, and such.

For instance, Pat Hope had a “Latinos for Hope” rally at the Buckingham Community Center.

Miles Grant said he gives fliers to supporters in apartment complexes and asks that they distribute them to a list of likely voters who also live at that place. He said he has a volunteer who coordinates that activity.

If that doesn’t work, he joked, “What we’re doing is renting fire engines with ladders that will go up to about the 10th floor and [we’re] just sticking our fliers to the outside of people’s windows.”

The group experience has a different feel than that of someone knocking on your door.

When Alan Howze stopped by, I told him that I write this blog and that I’m a friend of Pat Hope’s and have every intention of voting for him. Alan looked at me with a kind of curious smile and said, “Let’s get coffee.” It was a face that said, “I can change your mind.” I was happy for the opportunity.

He and I have had coffee; in fact, coffee with him made me think of asking the other candidates the same. I have met with four of the five candidates (Adam Parkhomenko’s campaign said they didn’t have time in his schedule). Transcripts of those taped interviews will be out next week.

While we’re on politics…

Nick Benton, the Editor/Publisher of the Falls Church News Press, gave $200 to Adam Parkhomenko’s campaign at some point during the first three months of this year. Just letting you know.
Along those lines, Pat Hope asked me if I’d put a lawn sign in my yard, and, citing my role here at the HeraldTrib, I said no. Pat asked if Cathy, my wife, would be willing to do it, and I said he would have to ask here.

We have a lawn sign.

I’m a journalist, but I don’t see why my wife must give up her right to free speech. (I know this will rub some of you the wrong way, but at least I’m up front about these matters.)

Don't stereotype tent caterpillars...

The naturalist and TV persona, David Mizejewski, (featured in a story, below) told me that the eastern tent caterpillar is not invasive, nor is it harmful to the environment and backyard (it leaves behind a few holey leaves).

These are the good ones.(Click to enlarge the image.)

What I didn’t write was that he and I (we’re about the same age) remember the late 1970s in the northeast when the gypsy moths came in and defoliated entire forests. Since the gypsy moth is also a tent-builder, many people (I’ll include myself here) believe all tent caterpillars are bad.

They’re not, and you can fairly easily tell them apart. Gypsy moth caterpillars have a series of blue and red spots along their bodies, whereas the eastern tent caterpillars have a golden squiggle, with blue stripes.

Here’s a couple images to help:

  • Gypsy moth caterpillar
  • Eastern tent caterpillar

  • I missed the BCCA meeting last week...

    I was sick. It has been some combination of head cold and allergies that has been laying me low for about two weeks. (That is part of why the Police Notes, below, are so delayed.)

    Anyway, if someone was at the meeting and can give a nice emailed round-up, I'd sure appreciate it. I know American Service Center detailed their redevelopment plans, and apparently someone else was coming, but I do not have details, though I'd love them!

    Have a good holiday weekend...

    And remember that Rolling Thunder will be rolling and thundering down Arlington Blvd this weekend, with campers no doubt already filling the Assembly of God field. Look for pictures next week. (The police traffic alert is here.)

    Bill Francis at the Arlington Assembly of God, last year.

    The Week’s Headlines…
    As always, you can scroll down to see all the recent stories, or simply click the links below (if the link doesn't work, scroll down to find the story, and email to tell me what's busted: --Steve Thurston).

    Today's Headlines:

  • Man held (but not charged) in incident with Swanson students (Police Notes May 5 - 21)

  • Headlines from Earlier in the Week:

  • County and Telesis Prep for June Meeting. (Buckingham Village 3 update.)
  • ASC Switches to Water-based Paint (but a neighbor is not sure that will pass the smell test.)
  • From Animal Planet to Lubber Run (TV personality checks out the neighborhood's "backyard.")
  • Whipple and Brink Endorse Patrick Hope
  • Road Work Started on Thomas/Henderson Intersection
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