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  • Writer's pictureTommy Zurhellen

Are We Having Fun Yet?

Monday, October 2nd

Dear Friends:

It’s hard to believe this is my 30th letter to you! People still ask me if I write these weekly dispatches myself. I do, and I take a lot of pride in writing each one. After all, I’ve been teaching the craft of writing at Marist for twenty years now, so I knew from the start of this journey that writing to you would be the best way for me to discuss the issues that matter. These dispatches have been a great way to bring you the latest news from the campaign trail, but they have also become a way to process my thoughts and find the lighter side of things when the campaign trail might become discouraging. I think it’s important to always find a way to laugh and find something positive to balance out the negative.

It’s like I tell my writing students: if you’re not having fun, you’re probably not doing it right.

Running for office is a lot of work. Every day it seems there are a dozen things that can go wrong, and half of them usually do. So it’s easy to get bogged down in disappointment. You get tired. And if you don’t try to find the bright side of things at every opportunity you get, you might give up. Luckily for me, I have some amazing teammates and we do our best to support one another. Take the photo above, for instance! We all converged on Chaseholm Farm in Pine Plains this past Saturday to support our friend Chris Drago, who running for Dutchess County Legislature. It was a wonderful event, filled with profound speeches on serious issues we all care deeply about. But as you can see, we couldn’t miss an opportunity to photobomb Robin Lois at the same time.

Some folks might think taking the time to let loose and have a little fun might be a sign we’re not taking this job seriously, but quite the opposite is true. Any teacher will tell you having fun is a sign of confidence.

And after eight months on the campaign trail, one thing we share is confidence. Honestly, I feel sorry for our opponents right now as we enter the home stretch. They certainly don’t look like they are having fun. My teammates and I have knocked them out of their comfort zone, and it shows. It’s obvious they only have one response: go low. Stealing lawn signs. Sending out desperate emails crying that Democrats are “stealing” this election. Doubling down on horrible ideas like incinerating our trash and stuffing our homeless folks in the jail.

But as Michelle Obama told us, when they go low, we go high. We’re not going to stoop to their scare tactics because frankly, we’re having too much fun as we claim the high ground and continue to push ahead in this election, leaving the fear-mongering behind. Who knows what else they are planning behind closed doors as Election Day gets closer and closer? I guess we should all brace ourselves for some kind of malicious “October surprise” as our opponents get more desperate.

With so much at stake this year, we need you to get out of your comfort zone. So many good-hearted folks I talk to on the campaign trail shudder when someone even mentions knocking on doors. “I’ll do anything but that,” they say. But they don’t realize that door-knocking is a whole lot of fun. My very first knock was in a rural area around Pine Plains. I pulled up to the address and realized the house rested on top of a hill, with a quarter-mile gravel driveway snaking its way up to the house. So I parked my truck down on the road and huffed and puffed all the way up, taking a few breaks to catch my breath, before knocking on the front door.

An older man immediately opened the door, and before I could get a word out, he waved his hands and said, “Don’t worry. You don’t have to say anything. I’ve already decided to vote for you.”

“Can I ask why?”

“Anyone who walks up that driveway just to talk to me has my vote.”

It turned out we were both Navy veterans and we had a wonderful conversation that had nothing to do with politics. As I walked away I felt so good because that first door-knock didn’t feel like two people trying to talk about politics.

No, it felt like two old sailors having fun.

I believe you can find fun anywhere. And if you are running for office, finding fun in the drudgery of your long day is nothing less than essential. Whenever I find myself at an event with my teammates (which is pretty much every day) I know we will always find a moment to share a laugh or two. It’s a way to blow off a little steam while still doing the work we love.

There are only four weeks to go before early voting starts. It’s time to get out of your comfort zone and join our fight to turn Dutchess County blue and get rid of the fear once and for all. We need you to knock on doors, talk to your neighbors, share your energy at our community events, and just be that awesome Ambassador of Justice you know you can be! Please consider a donation to our campaign to keep us running strong right up until Election Day, using the secure Act Blue link below. Any amount helps! Thank you for your support!

Thank you to Chris Drago for hosting a fantastic event last Saturday. And thank you, for listening for the past thirty weeks as I write my letters to you! Remember, if you miss one, you can always catch up by visiting my website, and clicking the Blog link to find all the previous dispatches there. Happy reading!

Respectfully, Tommy


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