Politics and Projects

Posted on October 25, 2010

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I do not consider myself a political animal; there are many, many others my age who are far more astute on the subject, in addition to being more educated, strategic, socially connected and proactive, on how to work politics in their favor. Some people innately understand politics as a tool, an important game, an essential function.

My views on politics range from disinterest to rage. In the past, rarely have I felt politics as a positive force that could be shaped to my benefit. But 2010 has been an eye-opening year to the importance of politics. This year I joined a group of professionals who care deeply about politics, especially on the local and state levels, and how they can benefit Jacksonville. I attended a mayorial candidate meet-and-greet, and agreed to be part of a candidate’s host committee.

Why? Because for the first time I see how politics really does affect me and my work. All along I felt politics was an activity that happened on a level above (or morally below) me, regarding issues that did not concern me. No longer.

When I had a discussion with one of my friends, I realized I was laid off several years ago in good part to politics (and not the interoffice kind).  My former employer had a very politically-prominent project go sour, at which point we lost the contract from the major. We were the out-of-towners and not politically-connected, or inclined to ‘play the game’, even though the public black eyes we took were not entirely our fault. 

Losing that project caused a massive layoff, which I survived, but then a downward spiral continued which culminated with the entire closing of the office I worked in—and I became a free agent again.

Earlier this month I spoke with two potential clients who are eagerly awaiting votes on their referenda for community tax money to fund their healthcare projects. Lobbying always seemed so underhanded and creepy, but if I were in their towns I would be going door-to-door helping gain public support of the proposed hospitals. If the votes go through, the projects are viable.  If not, they will likely sit for at least another year.

It is hard to not be a cheerleader, especially locally, for candidates and projects you think will be beneficial. It also helps if you can call the person a friend, or maybe a friend-of-a-friend. Political relationships may not directly help an individual or entity, legally and ethically, but I know they can definitely hurt.

Election Day is a little more than a week away, and my fingers are crossed for both my clients and my friends that the political waves break their way—if not for now, then for their, and our, future.

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