« Home

John Nephew

Maplewood City Council Policy & Politics


Campaign Lit: "New Day"

The last of our campaign literature has begun arriving in mailboxes. We received our copy in Saturday's mail, and as I was out talking to voters this weekend I heard from folks from north to south who had also received it.

Throughout this campaign, I've used this guiding principle for my campaign's literature: Don't try to convince voters of something new; remind them of what they already know to be true. The purpose of the literature is not to change anyone's view of the world, but to inspire them to take action, to give them confidence that their vote can fix the problems that are plain for all of us to see.

In my first piece, the door-knocking palm card, I laid out my three campaign themes: fiscal responsibility (anyone who got a property tax bill for 2007, while seeing the elimination of the parks department, can understand this one); good government (anyone who had doubts about this can see Erik Hjelle spending our tax dollars to promote reeelection of his ally, Rebecca Cave, in the latest city newsletter that was rushed out just in time for the election); and pride in Maplewood, which is really the call to action -- persuading voters that we can restore our pride in Maplewood by using the ballot box to choose a better future for our city.

Before the primary, we created "Puzzled" as a metaphor for the divided and fractured city that we all have come to see, and to suggest me as a candidate who can solve it.

In "Shortchanged," we reprinted a number of headlines and quotes about the 2007 budget and reorganization and its fallout, reminding voters of the mess we've all watched unfold over the past two years. "Bad Apple" was a humorous spin on the feelings expressed to me by many voters all over the city, who felt angry and frustrated, even if they had voted for some or all in the council's current majority. We wanted to acknowledge those feelings, but turn them to a positive end of bringing needed change.

Coming into the home stretch, Will and I were again producing joint pieces. "Lightbulbs" further developed the motif of light and darkness from Will's mailer "Dutch Boy" (which compared him to Hans Brinker holding his finger in the dike through a long, cold night to hold back the flood while waiting for help to arrive). This council majority talks a good line about openness, but they have been surrounded by controversy over alleged violations of the open meeting law, and actions such as the 2 AM permanent appointment of Mr. Copeland as city manager "in the dark of night."

And this of course brings us to this last mailer, "New Day." It took a lot of crisp autumn mornings for me to get the right photograph of a beautiful Maplewood sunrise (that long rainy stretch in October wasn't helping!). We wanted something simple, positive, and inspirational -- as we've found throughout this campaign, the voters know what needs to be done. We just want to nudge more of them into the voting booth. (And to bring their neighbors!)

We've worked hard to keep our literature positive. While we have legitimately criticized the official actions and methods of this council majority (which includes one of my opponents), to remind voters why change is needed, we have avoided personal attacks on our opponents, and taken great care to comply with campaign laws. I believe that a victory built upon personal attacks, smears, threats, and lies is no victory for Maplewood; it deepens the divisions in the community, provokes resentment, and makes it hard to govern effectively (as the last two years demonstrate). If winning this race requires the use of such methods, I would rather not win.

I believe voters appreciate the difference. Take a look at the literature of my campaign and Will's, put it next to the literature that has come from the other candidates and their supporters (including those anonymous attacks and the use of our taxpayer-funded city newsletter for campaigning). Which campaigns have displayed the methods, attitude, and regard for the law that you would like to see speaking for you and your community in City Hall?

The answer should be as clear as day.

Labels: ,

Post a Comment

Newer Posts Older Posts

Posts by Date

Powered by Blogger & Blogger Templates. Customized by Michelle Nephew.
Contact me at