Went better than I thought

Posted 9/27/23

I have to be honest. I wasn’t exactly jumping with joy at the idea of running a forum for the candidates of the Ward 6 City Council race.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against …

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Went better than I thought


I have to be honest. I wasn’t exactly jumping with joy at the idea of running a forum for the candidates of the Ward 6 City Council race.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against public speaking. I am perfectly fine in the spotlight. However, even on a local level, politics make me uncomfortable. The idea that I was going to be at the center of helping candidates and constituents communicate comprehensively was more than a little distressing.

It’s not that I wasn’t prepared. I had been writing about the issues regarding the city for months. Library Director Ed Garcia and I had been planning the forum before the candidates officially declared. As far as homework, I had done all of mine. Still though, as I entAered the library that night my stomach was full of butterflies.

It was 40 minutes before the forum would start and already more than a dozen people milled about the room. The air was full of energy, and I felt underdressed. That’s not unusual for me, but since it was a big night it was more noticeable than usual. I took a sip of water and sat down as I steeled myself in preparation for what was to come.

The closer we came to 6:30 p.m. the more familiar the faces became and, in some cases, the more prestigious. More and more I could feel the pressure building. Was I ready for it? I was going to do my best, but I wasn’t sure. I nervously fiddled with my notecards as seats began to fill and we waited on the last couple of candidates to arrive.

Well, the last few candidates and one very special guest.

A few weeks before, one of the last meetings  with Ed Garcia  before the forum, he asked if I’d be having someone else there to accept in person questions or if I’d be doing it myself. Honestly, I hadn’t thought of it. In the past, he explained, there had often been an assistant to the moderator that helped to make sure things went smoothly. At the time, this had instantly seemed like a good idea.

After all, I had experience in running forums like this and the idea of having a second pair of hands at the ready to handle the public while I focused on the candidates seemed to solve problems I could tell I hadn’t foreseen being an issue that clearly would. In addition to this helpful idea, he also had a great idea of who would be perfect for that role.

While this was my first forum, it wasn’t his. The library and Herald had worked together on these in the past, but COVID had put a stop to them that had yet to be undone. He mentioned that in the past, the role had fallen to one of the Herald’s most long-time freelancers, Pam Schiff.

Pam and I had only met in person once, but since taking over the Herald she and I have become good friends. She’s light-hearted, kind and quickly took on the ,self described, role of my “Jewish grandma.” When Ed suggested I reach out to her and ask her to attend the forum as my assistant I was instantly on board. I’m so glad I was, because when she walked in the door that night my nerves calmed noticeably. Plus, as an added benefit, she brought me a cookie.

The moment she sat down next to me she was ready with a joke and a treat and so much of the anxiety that had been boiling up inside of me as the time up to the forum dwindled just disappeared.

It’s strange how some people can enter your life and make such an impression. Other than exchanging emails and texts, this woman and I have sat in the same room on two occasions, yet each time it’s been like we are old friends. We laugh and joke like we’ve known each other a decade. The conversation flows easily and fills me with that warm comfortable feeling that comes with seeing family, well the kind you like to see that is.

So, I guess the point is thank you Pam. I’m glad you came, and I appreciate how much of a help you’ve been to me as I tackle this very difficult position.

Ed, editorial, off the top


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