Tim Istock column: Political sign language

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 21, 2022

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By Tim Istock

This is an open letter to all local political office holders running for re-election, as well as political wannabes running for City Council, Board of Commissioners, Board of Education, or other local public offices.

Dear candidates:

Enough already with all the cute little rectangular campaign signs littering up every square inch of available yard and street corner space in town. Yeah, yeah, I realize you’ve probably doled out a sizable hunk of your hard-earned dough and blown a few endangered cortical circuits trying to conjure up what you hope will be the mother of all eye-catching designs, but the hard cold reality is that most folks pay about as much attention to the price of tea in China as they do to your yawn inspiring yard art on a stick.

So let’s get real here.

If I already happen to know you personally, chances are good I’ve also already decided — fairly or unfairly — whether I think you’d make a competent, effective public servant, in which case I may very well hang a chad for you, or, a no good bum, in which case I would vote for anybody, including Tricky Dick, before I’d cast a ballot for you. Either way, plastering your name on signs all over town is not going to change my mind one iota.

On the other hand, if I’m not personally familiar with you and I haven’t bothered to take time away from my nightly appointment with Jeopardy to research your positions on the issues — which sadly is often the case in local elections — you can bet the old campaign coffers I’m not going to learn a whole heck of a lot that would help me to make an informed decision about your potential suitability for public office by scoping out one of your woefully unimaginative campaign signs tucked in amongst the other 397 equally dull, look-alike signs cluttering up every major intersection in town like stands of cardboard kudzu, all of which read something like this:

ELECT Murray Finklebeetle
For School Board

Yeah boy, now that really gets my electoral juices flowing.

Okay, so what’s a local yokel politician to do?

Simple grasshopper.

Start off by canceling your order for the additional 10,000 slick, say nothing campaign signs you were thinking of buying from, Boring Political Signs R Us. With the money you’ll save you can spring for a couple of strategically located billboards and maybe even a few quarter page newspaper ads to boot, the result being that you actually give folks an up close and personal, behind the scenes glimpse at who you really are, rather than the bland, faceless bureaucrat you’re destined to become.

And hey, if you happen to espouse any radical or non-mainstream political views — like requiring senior citizens to work on road crews to receive their social security checks, or, insisting that graduating high school seniors actually be able to read at a 12th grade level — and you’re either gutsy enough or stupid enough to state them publicly, by all means have at it, for that kind of information will definitely set you apart from the other dull political clones in a major league hurry.

Okay, so let’s run that campaign ad again, and this time with feeling.

Hi folks, I’m Murray Finklebeetle, and I think I’d like to have a go at being a school board member.

• I’m a two pack-a-day smoker with no real plans to quit

• Bogey golfer and Panthers fan when they’re not stinking it up

• YMCA member (I’ve been twice, registration being one of them)

• I’m 47 pounds overweight — mostly due to an addiction to Big Macs and Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia. My last cholesterol reading was 247

• I have two Heinz 57 variety dogs and I don’t particularly like cats

• I’m in my second marriage — barely

• I believe Pete Rose bet on baseball but that his on-the-field accomplishments still qualify him for the Hall of Fame

• Michael Jackson was one very strange dude, I don’t care what you say

• Although it probably ain’t going to happen, I think a good paddling now and then at home or in the principal’s office would take care of a lot of the disciplinary problems we have at school

• The only other public office I’ve held was hall monitor in 10th grade, but I’m a hard worker, generally honest and polite, and if elected to the school board, I’m hoping to figure out why it is my kids can tell me everything I never wanted to know about Harry Potter or the latest iPhone apps, but can’t tell me diddly squat about the three branches of government or name the capital of Kentucky.

Now, that’s what I’m talking about!