For starters, I’m too ugly to be a politician
I’d like to think I was the first candidate for office in Greene County’s rich, 160-year history to file for a November ballot last Wednesday wearing a Hawaiian shirt.
What can I say?
I’m a man of the people.
A mere 48 hours before, though, I was just a guy in an ugly shirt.
Several weeks ago, I received a call informing me that my name had come up to serve on something called the “Extension council.”
“We thought it might be a good way for you to get more involved,” I was told.
Flattered, I nevertheless had one question: What’s the Extension council?
They oversee the county Extension service, I was informed.
How much time does it require, was my next question.
It’s not that I don’t want to get more involved in community affairs — it’s just that, I’ll be completely straight with you, I like sitting at home in my pajamas a lot more.
But when I was told the council meets just once a month, it became hard to justify saying no.
“Can I wear my pajamas?” I thought about asking.
I agreed, assuming that serving on the “Extension council” was like volunteering at school or church.
I now get the sense that they hung up the phone and cackled.
Last Monday, Michael Cooley, the county Extension coordinator, stopped by the newspaper to visit about my newfound volunteerism.
“I’m not sure how much they told you,” were pretty much his first words.
He then handed me four pieces of paper — with the top one being the state of Iowa’s “Affidavit of Candidacy.”
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold up, Mike.
“You mean I’m going to be an elected official?” I asked in a mini-panic.
My eyes darted up and down the sections of the affidavit that needed to be filled out.
I’m not a real hardliner when it comes to journalism ethics, but I’m pretty sure divulging that — let alone filing for political office in the first place — is somewhere near the top of the no-no list.
But just as I thought about listing my political affiliation as “liberal media,” Cooley, obviously sensing my anxiety, piped up that the Extension council is a nonpartisan position.
“Whew,” I thought. “And, here, I was about to out myself as a socialist.”
Thank, God, they didn’t need a birth certificate. I don’t even know how to go about requesting one from my village in Kenya.
But I was still uneasy.
“You mean I’m going to be on the November ballot?” I asked.
Well, yes, but first I was to go collect the signatures of 30 to 35 registered Greene County voters in order to get my name on the ballot.
And they couldn’t be felons, Cooley added.
And I would have to do all this, get it notarized and march it over to the county auditor’s office in two days.
“Whoa, brother,” I thought about asking. “Back it up. No felons?
“There goes half my friends list on Facebook.”
I did, however, do my best to weasel my way out of the job right then and there.
I informed Cooley that I was never involved in 4-H.
It didn’t matter, he said.
I don’t know anything about agriculture, I argued. The closest I get to agriculture is the meat counter at Fareway.
Oh, but the county Extension service is about more than just agriculture, he answered.
The dude seriously had an answer for everything.
Finally, I played the “I’m horrible at math” card.
As far as I can tell, the only thing that qualifies me to serve on the council overseeing the local Iowa State University Extension office is that I own an Iowa State sweatshirt.
Regardless, I’ll be on the ballot come Nov. 4 as a candidate for the County Agricultural Extension Council.
I look to be back on a ballot by August for the recall election.
Fortunately, I’m not required to campaign, as it’s a non-contested race. But there’s still part of me that wonders whether I’ll be the only unopposed candidate in political history to lose on Election Day.
In some ways, I feel like one of those vice-presidential candidates from the 1800s that was found in a tavern and stuck on the ticket with a couple of weeks to spare.
A few years ago, I read the humorous book “Veeps: Profiles in Insignificance,” about our nation’s never-ending parade of goofball vice presidents.
Those actively seeking office in this day and age always seem to model themselves on Ronald Reagan, John F. Kennedy or even Bill Clinton.
I’m secretly hoping that when my four-year term on the Extension council is done, my political career just goes the way of Elbridge Gerry, or Hannibal Hamlin, or Levi Morton, or Alben W. Barkley, or Joe Biden.
I’ll be perfectly happy to be forgotten.