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The Campaign Continues…

February 19, 2013
The three week campaign leading up to the bond levy vote for a new high school had to be planned so that day by day the momentum would build, reaching a peak the last week before the voters went to the polls.  The first two weeks the slide program would be presented first to school employees followed by showings to other community groups.  The slide program promoting a yes vote would continue to be shown in the final week right up to election day.  During the last week most of our budget would be spent on media advertising.  Since there were two newspapers, we had to purchase two full page ads, one for each paper.  Each page would have a simple design.  The center of the page would contain the basic facts, the amount of the levy, the number of years needed to pay off money borrowed, the cost of the property tax increase for the average homeowner represented by a picture of a half a gallon of ice cream and the words per week, and a few facts about the facilities in the new school, including energy savings by using a berm on the outside walls of much of the structure.  On the border of each full page ad, I had taken a large selection of photos of teenagers’ smiling faces to line the four edges of both pages.

There was one AM and one FM radio station.  We bought as many 30 second ads as we could to be aired on each station.  We had these spots read by well know citizens of the county.  These highly respected people being heard endorsing a “yes” vote would have a very effective impact on all who heard them. The 30 second ads would play on both radio stations the last week of the campaign right up to election day.

Another critical need was to have both newspaper editors give their endorsement of a “yes” vote on the bond issue for a new high school.  On the Opinion Page of each newspaper the two editors would write their editorials either favoring or opposing the bond issue.  With some fear and trembling I met with each editor to answer questions and to assure them that I would certainly respect their decision either for or against the issue.  At the end of each meeting, both editors told me they would take my input into their decision making process, meaning I would not find out where they stood until May 22, the Wednesday before the following Tuesday, election day, May 28.

The slide program seemed to be well received and there were no more negative happenings.  I still realized that there were plenty of negative votes ready to be registered on May 28.  It was going to be close and probably depend on turnout of voters.  The Teton County Clerk told me that the larger the voter turnout, the better chance of a “yes” vote. She said the “no” voters always came to cast their votes. I had learned this to be true in the three successful votes that I saw Phillip Runkel pass in ultra conservative Grand Rapids, Michigan.  All three times voter turnout was heavy. Knowing we needed every vote we could get, the last weekend before the election I went to the local laundromat and showed the slide program to people who waited for their clothing to be cleaned.

With election day fast approaching, I was pleased to a wonderful invitation to show the slide program to some of Teton County’s finest, The Cowbells.  The Cowbells were ranchers’ wives who met once a month for socializing.  I was told the meeting would be just a few days before the election and that the Cowbells’ husbands would be present.  It would be a special meeting, an evening dinner in the meeting room of the Jackson State Bank.  It ended up being a great evening, and the slide show was well received.  The Q and A time was up beat, and some of the parents of my eighth grade students who were there thanked me for being at the Middle School for their children.  This meeting gave me a boost and new hope that a “yes” vote was still a possibility.  Being a newcomer in Teton County made me feel very uneasy.  I could not be sure of anything.  Only the next few days would tell.  Next time, Election Day, May 28, begins with a real shocker that could have ruined everything.

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