|Third Time's The Charm
Michael A. Burstein gets sworn in by Assistant Town Clerk Linda Golburgh for a third term as a Library Trustee in the town of Brookline, Massachusetts. (May 5, 2010) Photo copyright ©2010 Nomi S. Burstein. All rights reserved.
So, as I reported here on Tuesday night, I won re-election to the Board of Library Trustees in Brookline and will get to serve a third three-year term.
Now that the campaign is over, I thought I might share some thoughts about the whole thing.
First of all, the fact that we had the first contested Library Trustee race in town since 2003 was pretty much an accident. No one in the town had complained that there were problems with the libraries that needed fixing. What happened was that one of the sitting Trustees chose not to run for re-election, and two of the current Trustees each recruited a friend to run for the Board. As a result, we ended up with five candidates – three incumbents and two challengers – running for the four seats.
During the campaign, a lot of people in town told me that they didn't think I had anything to worry about, but I disagreed. Last year, an incumbent whom everyone assumed would get re-elected lost his School Committee seat because of two strong challengers. Just a short time before, an incumbent Selectman lost his seat as well. So as soon as I discovered that the race would be contested, I realized that I had to get my message out to the voters. I had to remind them of everything I had done for the libraries over the past six years, and I had to tell them my plans for promoting the libraries for the next three years.
I started with the Burstein for Brookline website, of course. I was fortunate to be able to hire friends who do freelance web design and maintenance, and they set up the site as quickly as possible. We got buttons, cards, and signs designed and printed, and I stood out in Coolidge Corner one weekend with volunteers to remind voters of my candidacy. Other volunteers went door-to-door to hand out my cards.
Getting the message out can be difficult and expensive, but fortunately both the Brookline Neighborhood Alliance and the League of Women Voters sponsored candidate events that were broadcast by Brookline Access Television. I was able to re-introduce myself to voters through those forums. The local newspaper, the Brookline TAB, also ran a few letters of support for my candidacy, and the week before the election they profiled the candidates.
Another way I got the message out was to collaborate with one of the candidates for Constable. I had endorsed a few candidates for Constable, including Tommy Vitolo, who was doing "Dear Friend" postcards. Tommy graciously allowed me to remind people of my own candidacy on the cards I filled out for him.
The night before Election Day, a friend of mine helped me get signs posted at the polling places, to remind voters yet again that I was up for re-election. One of the challengers had large signs up as well, so I was glad that I had made the effort to post the signs.
And then came Election Day.
Election day was a lot of fun. I had volunteers passing out cards at some of the polling places, and I spent a lot of time meeting voters in front of my own polling place at the Runkle School. My polling place actually accommodates two precincts, so in theory I had a chance to personally meet twice as many voters. I also called a lot of local friends, reminding them that it was Election Day and asking them to please go out and vote.
We were helped by the weather; it was a sunny day, if a little humid. Ironically, a quick-moving storm passed through the area right when people might have chosen to vote on their way home from work. In the end, Brookline got a 10.1% turnout for the local election (3548 voters), which is low but on par with recent local elections.
As for my own race, I came in second, ensuring me my seat back on the board. The final breakdown was as follows:
Roberta Winitzer (incumbent): 2101
Michael A. Burstein (incumbent): 2008
Jennifer Rees (challenger): 1871
Judith Vanderkay (incumbent): 1804
Dempsey Springfield (challenger): 741
In retrospect, the results make a lot of sense. Roberta is well-known in Brookline by many people, and three years ago she came in first when we had an uncontested race. Jennifer ran a much more active race than Dempsey did, so it's not surprising that she won. She did seem to run more of a campaign than Judith, which would explain why she managed to come in third even though Judith had the advantage of incumbency. As for Dempsey, I sincerely hope he'll consider running again next year, as he shared a lot of good ideas at the League candidate events.
As for my own standing, I owe it to the hard work of my campaign manager and treasurer, Nomi Burstein; my campaign secretary, Alexis Kaplan; and all the volunteers and donors who chose to support my re-election. Thank you all, and I look forward to serving you as a Library Trustee for the next three years, and (I hope) beyond.