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Shell Shocked: The candidate regrets

By Staff | Feb 4, 2015

When last we spoke I had made a historic decision to run for the Sanibel City Council on a platform about 20 inches high. My goal was to transform Sanibel from a sleepy little town into a thriving metropolis. I envisioned skyscrapers, a mass transit subway system and a Major League arena to house our six professional sports teams.

Alas, it was not to be. It’s not that I couldn’t raise the funds or attract supporters. It’s not that demonstrations in support of my candidacy were unruly. And it’s not even because my campaign slogan changed from “the new frontier” to “LT on toast, hold the mayo.” It’s because of the maze of bureaucracy that even Albert Einstein wouldn’t be able to figure out. The theory of relativity was child’s play compared to what I had to go through.

First I needed to obtain 38 signatures of bona fide Sanibel voters. I went to a BIG ARTS drawing-for-dummies class to create an eye-fetching petition and shortly after placed my 20-inch platform to the side of the Sanibel Cinema box office. The 4:30 show was about to start and crowds of people began to line up. I stood up on my campaign platform and began to shout that I was running for office and needed signatures.

The movie must have been compelling, because not a single person bothered to stop. They raced to the box office, cutting each other off in line and asked for senior citizen discounts. This was also true of a 16-year-old boy.

I then changed my location and placed myself in front of Bailey’s. Again I shouted that I was running for the City Council and needed signatures. Three or four people handed me pocket change. They must have misunderstood my intentions.

I begged, cried and even did some tap dancing to attract attention. I finally got my 38 signatures and proceeded to the next step. The next step was to submit the signed petition, lay out 10 cents per signature and fill out File Form DS-DE0, along with a cashier’s check.

Next, I needed to obtain the official seal of consent to run from the Lee County Supervisor of Elections. I was to be issued a notice of Certification of Candidates Petition Signatures.

But before this certificate could be issued, I needed to get the document notarized. Have you ever tried to locate a notary public in the middle of the night? True, I had spaced this process out a little too tightly and found myself needing to deliver the notarized certificate by 9 a.m. the following morning. So I looked through the Sanibel yellow pages to find a notary public who wouldn’t mind being awakened in the middle of the night. My intentions were honorable but my strategy sucked.

I dialed the first number. It rang about thirteen times before a sleepy voice answered and said, “This better be good.”

I hung up. After the first four failures I found a notary who was up watching “Sergeant Bilko” reruns. I said as gently as I possibly could, “Sir, you’re the last hope I have. I’m running for the Sanibel City Council and need to have a petition notarized.”

“Go, Bilko. Show that Georgia redneck who’s boss. Oh, sorry. A petition notarized? It is a bit late but I guess I can accommodate you. What did you say the petition is for?”

I told him that the petition contained 38 signatures of Sanibel voters and he needed to notarize it to verify that the form was filled out correctly and to the letter of the law.

He said: “Well, that means I’ll need to make stops at the homes of all 38 signers to verify their signatures. Do you have their addresses?”

“Are you serious? I thought that all you needed to do is take a look at the signatures and place your stamp on the document.”

“Oh, no, that’s not how the system works. I need to see proof of Sanibel citizenship before I can bless it with my notary stamp. Do you think these 38 people are sufficiently excited about your candidacy that they wouldn’t mind being awakened at three in the morning?” the notary asked.

I thought about it a moment. If I were awakened by a pounding at the door at three in the morning, I would either send a shotgun blast through the front door, send my deadly cocker spaniel out for the kill or ring up 911 and wake up the Sanibel police.

That wouldn’t get my political campaign off to a flying start, even with my 20-inch platform. I apologized to the notary for calling so late and thanked him for his time. I pictured him immediately plotzing on the couch at Sergeant Bilko’s next punch line.

As for me, with all my hopes now dashed, I simply made my next and final campaign promise.

“Wait until next year,” I said out loud before lying my head on the pillow.

Art Stevens is a long-time columnist for The Islander. His tongue-in-cheek humor is always offered with a smile.