In this space I’ve written about the house party and the “time” as building blocks of a political campaign. Another staple of any campaign is the “stand out.” Some people call this “holding signs,” and the insiders refer to this activity as “viz” or “doing a visibility.” The stand out may or may not involve the candidate. Sometimes an overly excited bunch of volunteers will mob a major intersection and wave and yell like crazy for an hour, feeding off every horn beep and thumb’s up from drivers. Some campaigns are fierce believers in viz, convinced that it proves to voters that a candidate is working hard or that the volunteer bench is deep. I’ve always liked this form of campaigning because you encounter a lot of people in a short time.
I was walking Ringo the dog tonight at about 6 p.m., when I saw city councilor Marty Lorrey and his lovely wife, Lila, hailing cars on the South Common at the corner of Thorndike and Highland streets. This is a great corner for viz at rush hour. Constant cars. I’ve stood out at that corner many times for candidates/office holders, two of them being Matt Donahue and Paul Tsongas in the 1990s.
Councilor Lorrey was drawing a great response from the commuters coming home from work. His signs with the stamp-edge design are my favorite design of the season. First, it’s a great shorthand identification for the former postal worker. Second, there’s a subtle patriotic message in the stamp motif without going red-white-and-blue. I think people appreciate seeing the candidate out in the chilly air making an effort to connect with voters. Any sign-holder gets his or her share of boo-birds, but mostly you see respect in the eyes of the people who make contact. Lots of them buzz right by. At that intersection, I was always surprised to see how many vehicles with New Hampshire license plates zipped past on their way across the river and through the woods to Pelham and environs. While I was chatting with the councilor a mail truck gave a wicked blast of its horn, and we laughed. He was sharing with me ideas he has for improving the Common and surrounding area, including bringing some music to the park next summer. He has a strong interest in history and often makes the connection with the community’s heritage when he is talking about a particular place. One of the big challenges at that spot is the redevelopment of the Comfort Furniture building. The location oozes potential, with the train station next door, plans for a trolley extension, more construction coming in the Hamilton Canal District, promised upgrade of the Common, and growth of Cambodia Town on the other side of the overpass.