(This is the message I sent to our volunteers after the election – I’ve been asked to post it on the campaign Web site.)
Asheville heard you loud and clear!
You are amazing. Over 750 strong, you just participated in the largest grassroots campaign in Asheville City Council history.
Because of your work knocking on doors, printing signs, making phone calls, donating and raising money, preparing food, creating and donating art work or services, telling your friends and finally standing at the polls, we have changed Asheville’s government in important ways. The primary election finishers ranked from 1-5 were in descending order from liberal to conservative.
The order shifted somewhat in the general election following a smear campaign that cost at least thousands and quite probably more than $10,000. The strength and resilience of our grassroots effort withstood the kind of attack that stopped progressive/liberal candidates in 2007.
On an election day which saw slippage of Democratic candidates in Virginia and New Jersey, we maintained the grassroots, populist energy that delivered North Carolina for Obama in 2008, and together we can continue to effect real change. It won’t be as intense as the campaign, but I hope I can count on you to stay active. When important issues come before Council, the best we can do is stick together, make phone calls, write letters and e-mails and let other Council members know that our campaign is alive and well and engaged. It is about us, not about me.
I am sincere about public financing of local elections and am already in touch with activists in Chapel Hill to learn how their new system worked this year. While I am enormously grateful for the 550+ donors who made this campaign work, I would much prefer to eliminate fundraising, to eliminate the influence of big money, and to return to the kind of populist, participatory democracy that existed before the Supreme Court decided that money was a form of speech.
Last of all, you are invited to the swearing-in ceremony on December 8, at 5 p.m. at City Hall.
Thank you, and thank each other. It took all of us working together to make this campaign a success and I am enormously grateful to you for your participation.
As Chris Smither, composer of my early campaign theme “Can’t do it alone” sang in another of his great songs, “I could take the credit, but it’s thanks to you.”
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