Thursday, June 10, 2010

How a Politician Gives You the Bird

A few weeks ago, a candidate for House District 31 stopped by the house. She missed us, but left a handbill with a handwritten personalize sticky note. "{phone} {email}Beautiful orange door! Sorry I missed you. AJ Jones."

I'm impressed. We are more politically active than your average family (not hard!), and John and I know firsthand how hard it is to walk the ward much less the district. So I take a look to learn more.

AJ bills herself as a "Common Sense Conservative." Um, what does that mean? Are you a democrat or a republican? In Oklahoma "Common Sense Conservative" could mean either. I keep reading.

On the next page, there is a typo that is so bad I honestly didn't understand the sentence. And the kicker: the longest bullet on the entire handbill describes her husband. Evidently, he is proof of her "values." All this tells me is that she values her husband's qualifications over her own.

Ok, so I'll go the website to see more about her. Only, there is no website. The first day I checked, there was only a hosting page that stated the domain was purchased. A week later a "Coming Soon" splash image appeared. As of this writing, the page is still coming soon.

Then this shows up downtown:

Are you kidding me? This billboard is in the historic district! I soon learned I wasn't the only one annoyed by this. I explained this to AJ in an email on May 31.

People in Guthrie are talking, but I doubt it's in a way you hoped. Everyone is intrigued by your campaign. You've been out in the neighborhoods--I know you stopped by my home--signs are starting to go up, and I've even heard Chuck introduced you to some folks at the coffee shop.

The only problem is the very, very large sign--more of a billboard, really--right smack dab in the historic district. I'm not the only person upset by this. One of our civic leaders has already spoken to the city attorney about this. It seems since you are political candidate, your sign is somehow exempt from our historic preservation regulations. So no one will force you to remove the sign on the White Rock Cafe. That is until the sign ordinance our city council has been working on for more than a year passes this summer.

Our beautiful Victorian downtown is our number one attraction and we are heading into tourism season. If you would like to impress the people of Guthrie, please have some respect for the integrity of our historic regulations and the community itself.

Bonnie Ann Cain, APR (registered Republican)

I received no automated response. The next day, nothing. The next week, nothing. Maybe Team AJ is as good at checking email as they are at updating the website. But, today I got a surprise. She wrote back. Here was her response:

Dear Ms. Cain:
Thank you so much for your thoughtful concern about our beautiful town. I too love our Victorian downtown. I apologize for not responding to your e-mail sooner, but I was researching and conversing with some people regarding your concern about my campaign sign. I have made every effort to ensure that the sign is only temporary. It will be removed after the July 27 primary. In making the decision to use the sign, I sought several people's opinions. They assured me that since we are in the political season, the temporary sign would not be offensive. They pointed out several other signs which are larger and have permanent placement. Again, thank you for your concern. Please do not hesitate to phone me or e-mail if you wish further information.
AJ Jones

Now that is how you give someone the bird. At least she's got one thing down.

I'm not sure who these people she talked to were. I'm guessing it wasn't the code enforcement office, or any downtown business owner who has struggled to remain in compliance, or the economic development office. And I thought I'd made it pretty clear the people I've talked to do find the sign offensive. As for taking the sign down after July 27, I'm hoping she won't have a need to campaign after that day.

And what are these larger permanent signs? Is she talking about these?

These couldn't be it. These are actually adding to the historic district. But these were the only other billboards I saw in downtown. Maybe I'm just so used to these other larger permanent signs I've tuned them out.


Chad said...

I like it. Nicely done!

Nicole said...

Are you aware that AJ RENTED out the White Rock Cafe, and it is her Campaign Headquarters? It is not like she is vandalizing and your blog sure makes it seem like it. She has never run for anything before so forgive her if she is a newbie, I wonder how perfect your campaign would be if you started one. Maybe if you had the chance to meet her and talk with her, you wouldn't be so harsh.

Jack said...

I live in Guthrie and I agree with nicole, how did she give you "the bird" exactly? She seems like a busy woman, yet she still makes it out to go around walking door-to-door. and she did reply personally??? Sounds like a job well done on her part. Did you try calling her campaign phone? Me and my wife did the other day to ask a bit about her and someone answered right away and was extremely nice. Also, where are your dates and times for these emails? You forgot to put those in, lessens my belief about your blog.

BonnieAnn said...

Dear Nicole,

Thank you so much for your thoughtful concern about my little blog post. I apologize if you interpreted my post as an accusation of vandalism, as that thought never crossed my mind. To clarify, I believe the sign is merely deteriorating the integrity of our historic downtown. The fact that AJ has rented the White Rock Cafe is neither here nor there. This does not exempt her from city regulations.

I have actually managed the communications for a political campaign in the past. I would never suggest it was perfect, but it was successful. I have much respect for anyone who is willing to commit the level of work it takes to make a serious bid for office. I also know firsthand that putting yourself in the public eye means people will comment on your actions, and those comments will likely be far harsher and more public than this obscure post.

Again, thank you for your concern, and thanks for reading.

BonnieAnn said...

Anytime one states an opinion and someone replies by telling you that opinion is wrong, I consider that "giving the bird." It happens all the time. I think AJ did a lovely job of this. Perhaps my sense of humor is lost on some.

My business hours are spoken for so I prefer to do my candidate research online. It is 2010 after all. However, after this posting someone from AJ's office called me and you are correct, they were quite nice.

As for the dates, I state before the quote of my email that it was sent on May 31. Before AJ's quote, I state it was sent the day of the posting (June 10). Sorry if it wasn't more clear. Good for you, questioning the authority of a blog post. Who knows what those nutty bloggers will say.

Thanks reading, and thanks for commenting!