It’s Thank a Politician Week.

Let’s all get together in this election year and tip our caps to the people who put it all on the line and run for public office . . . and not just the glamorous races like mayor or for Congress. Running for a local office will introduce you to the real thing . . . to grassroots politics.

Many years ago, I ran for one of four seats in Hawaii’s House of Representatives allocated to the 17th District on the Island of Oahu. Of course I had no money to run a serious campaign.

I spent almost all my campaign funds on a simple brochure. The front cover featured a head-and-shoulders photo of me and what I had decided at the time would be a dandy campaign theme:

You can trust Jim Loomis.

Voters here like to see political candidates put some serious personal effort into their campaigns. In my case, I had decided to go door-to-door to meet my future constituents. It all went relatively smoothly for the first several afternoons. Then I knocked on the door of the home of a Mrs. Yamashiro.

A sixtyish haole (white) lady answered my knock, but within a minute or so, she interrupted my well-honed pitch, saying “Why look at you, all hot and sweaty!” 

She was quite right about that, so when she invited me into her house for a glass of iced tea, I gratefully accepted.

Mrs. Yamashiro sat me down in a comfortable chair and bustled off into the kitchen where I could hear her opening a tray of ice cubes and chattering all the while about how she was excited to meet me and that she had read a profile about me in the local newspaper.

This friendly talk continued as she came back into the living room with a pitcher of iced tea and a pair of tall glasses filled with ice cubes on a small tray.

“Now that we’re all relaxed,” she said as we both sat down, “let me get your views on some of the issues. For instance . . .” and she very casually asked my position on fluoridating the public water supply.

“Well,” I said, “I think it’s a good idea it because the Hawaii Dental Association . . . “

Mrs. Yamashiro bolted to her feet and screeched, “I will not support someone who would allow special interests to poison our children!” And, never pausing in her rant, little Mrs. Yamashiro literally shoved me out the front door of her tidy home and slammed the door behind me.

It’s impossible for most people to understand what motivates someone to disrupt a normal life to run for public office. But—whether left, right or center—they all deserve our thanks and appreciation, because that’s why this grand experiment works.

So far.