In which NaNoWrimo reveals my true thoughts about elections
November 12th, 2010 Skookum Tribune issue number whatever, volume whatever
“It’s all Okay”
Meet the Vitriolic Candidates
By Annabeth Spencer
Senate candidates Jack deKost and Dick Olson have been adversaries for a long time.
deKost was a star football player at Skookum High in 1977. Olson led the Skookum basketball team to the State Championships that year.
In college, they both played baseball: deKost played for the WSU Cougars, and Olson pitched for the arch-rival UW Huskies.
For the last decade, they have opposed each other as County Councilmen, and as local businessmen.
This year, the two adversaries faced each other once again: in an election bid for the Senate.
deKost, a Republican, thinks that incombent Olson spends too much time in “the other Washington” and spends too much money on frivolous projects that local constituents don’t support.
Olson, a Democrat, thinks that deKost wants to supports big business to the detriment of local people, and thinks that people who make a lot of money should pay some taxes on it.
Nation-wide, advertisements and press conferences leading up to the recent election have been full of the worst sort the vitriol and mud-slinging, but in the race between these two longtime local antagonists, the rhetoric has been especially cutthroat. The thick forest of campaign signs dueling out on the main highway indicates the high level of commitment each candidate has to “beat the other guy.”
The struggle between the two candidates has been so intensely personal that many constituents feel that both men sometimes completely ignore both the voters and the political issues that the race really should address.
Now, the election is over, but neither side has gained a clear victory yet. With fewer than 60 votes separating deKost from Olson, the auditor’s office is currently undertaking a mandatory recount, which is proceeding slowly but steadily. The results should be available next week…and in the meantime, the bitter rhetoric between the red and blue camps continues.
High-ranking campaign workers from both sides appear daily on local radio and television, as well as holding forth for hours at a time at various times during the day at the Red Robin Café, accusing the other of trying to rush the elections office in order to “steal” votes.
Local voters are tired of the feuding and fussing, and the letters to this newspaper reflect this weariness. “Find a way to settle your hot tempers while we all wait for the results,” our readers advised the candidates, “because you both make us sorry we have to choose either of you.”
With this in mind, the Skookum Tribune, sKOOK radio’s morning host Dave Owens “Your Buddy Dave”, and the Skookum School District held a unprecedented post-election event last Saturday evening:
A water balloon fight between Jack deKost and Dick Olson.
“Theoretically, this is a fundraiser for the Skookum PTA,” Dave Owens told the capacity crowd at the Skookum High School gymnasium. “But we know what we’re really here to see, don’t we?”
The crowd roared in agreement, waving signs and flags to support their candidate. Negative campaign signs were disallowed from the event—a large banner above the gym door stated the rule clearly: “If you can’t say something nice, you should have run for the office yourself.”
Instead, handmade placards said things like, “Just Go Do the Job” and “The election is over, and the public won.” One sign, which event moderator Owens read aloud to the audience, said “I don’t know either of these guys so I drew a bunny.”
As people entered the gym building, they could stop at a booth in the lobby to purchase water balloons for the candidates to throw. The cost was a dollar per water balloon, or twenty-five balloons for twenty dollars. Special balloons filled with red or blue Jello were available at a cost of fifty bucks each, with every cent of the money going into the district PTA coffers. Officers of the elementary school PTA took the money, and local boy- and girl-scout troops filled and stacked the buckets of wobbly bombs.
At precisely seven o’clock, balloon sales ended, Dave Owens called the crowd to order, and the two candidates, dressed in sober business suits were brought to a center-court platform built especially for the event by school district parents and teachers.
“The rules are simple,” the moderator told deKost and Olson. “You must stay within your own boundary box to throw your balloons, and you may not throw balloons at your opponent when he’s out of his box. You may make a ten-second political statement every time you come out of your box to re-load your buckets, using the microphone in this specially-built protective shower stall. If you talk longer than ten seconds, we will unplug your microphone for the duration of the event. If you are out of the box for more than 30 seconds, you forfeit a bucket of balloons. Volunteers are standing by with stop watches to keep you on task. Do you understand?”
The candidates nodded, shook hands, and waved to the crowd as they took their places on the platform and then for nearly two hours they raced between stage and microphone for light-hearted, messy, fun, more reminiscent of a comedy television show than an election event.
As the organizers had hoped, the balloon bash was a huge success. The voters and the candidates had a good laugh and all for a good cause: the Skookum PTA raised more than five thousand dollars from the sale of water balloons and Jello.