I was recently asked by a close observer of the local political scene what I thought of the power of incumbency.

I mentioned the rather obvious. Watching the incumbents appear at gatherings “bearing gifts”. The several months of the election cycle the incumbents appear, in their official capacity, regularly before the public reminding folks of “gifts” yet to be given. The near impossibility for new candidates, like Penny and Matt, to get a column inch (for me, merely difficult). The incumbents’ meanderings – part of the ongoing story – inserted freely.

That’s why Jim Ward’s complaint, that I ran over 19 seconds on one of my answers at the League of Women Voters forum this evening, seemed a trifling stingy. I didn’t mean to go over, Jim (heck, I even apologized) but you are an incumbent and already bring so many advantages of incumbency to the table! Why begrudge me a few extra seconds to try to complete my thought.

[flashvideo width=”320″ height=”240″ filename=”http://citizenwill.org/campaign/video/NineteenSecondsTooLong_320x240.flv” /]

Funny thing. Ater giving me a bit of “what for”, Jim spent 44 seconds, a full 14 seconds more than he was supposed to, just 5 seconds short of my trespass, answering the same question. Another advantage of incumbency – that moderators defer to already elected folk and will let them plow on – I learned of the hard way in 2005.

[flashvideo width=”320″ height=”240″ filename=”http://citizenwill.org/campaign/video/JimWardsComplaint_320x240.flv” /]

Thanks Matt for offering up your time.

And even though we have very few remaining opportunities to talk to the public during this election cycle, I’ll continue to practice brevity so I won’t have to take you up on your kind offer. Maybe by Nov. 6th I’ll be able to compress my message down to a length suitable for even the most discerning of the incumbents.

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