If someone were to say to me, “Judy, you will never again work on Election Day,” and no more campaigning at all either, I’m not sure if I’d: 1 – Cry, because it’s in my DNA; 2 – Squeal with joy, since I’ve never liked this kind of thing; or 3 – Laugh, knowing it’s too good to be true.
This past Tuesday was D-Day for my brother, Mark Cohen, State Representative of the 202nd Legislative District in Philadelphia. The combination of recent redistricting – thereby creating a 60% new constituency – and a very determined, shameful opponent made this race more difficult than most of his others since the mid-1970s. Unbelievable as it sounds, he’s been in office since then, having run and won every two years.
Campaigning on Primary Day (May) and Election Day (November) – as well as in the months leading up to each – is not for wimps. One must stand tall, prepare for battle, and roll with the punches. Take this past Tuesday. I was assigned to a playground in Northeast Philly, where I would ask voters one last time to pull the lever for Mark. I got there at 7:15 a.m. and within 10 seconds, before I even walked up to my co-workers for the day to introduce myself, I heard one guy talking trash about my bro, calling him names (…how old are we?) and spewing untruths because, I assume, he thought he could get away with it.
Nothing wrong with good competition, I approached him to say, but do it the right way. “Sell your candidate and leave my brother out of your sales pitch,” I barked. “Your brother?” he replied? “Yes, I said. “I didn’t mean to offend you,” he replied, which frankly kind of surprised me. “Well, you did,” I said.
While he improved some, his voice was weighing on me like fingernails on a chalkboard until he finally left, around . Perhaps I was cramping his style, knowing he’d have to answer to Big Bad Judy if he kept up his shenanigans.
I’m happy to say that Mark won, Mona’s able to sleep peacefully once again and 21 year-old Amanda, who worked tirelessly for her dad both before and on Election Day, saw that good can triumph after all.
When I was 21, I didn’t share my niece’s zeal for politics. Campaigning was the last thing I ever wanted to do, and I was vocal about it. I didn’t want to canvas in my or any other neighborhood, make calls urging registered voters to support my candidate or tell anyone on Election Day how to vote. That doesn’t mean I didn’t do it. I just didn’t want to.
But back then I wasn’t focused on the big picture of life. I was consumed with my own interests, which mostly meant the exclusion of those of my family’s. In recent years, I’ve come to realize that blood stands for something.
My sister Sherrie ran for Council-at-Large in
in 2011. Since I’d turned the corner by
this time, I thought it’d be nice to join her one day on the campaign
trail. The first stop was a baseball
with lots of men and women anxious to play ball. Fairmount Park
When we got there, I assumed she’d make a speech and I’d cheer her on from the stands, but when she handed me a wad of brochures, I realized I was mistaken. Clearly she wanted me to work the crowd and even suggested I say, “Vote for my sister, Sherrie Cohen. She’s the first ‘out-lesbian’ who has ever run for City Council.”
WHOA!!!! We hadn’t discussed this part. I didn’t even know what out-lesbian meant. I remember asking her “What is that?” Once she explained, I wondered why on earth I’d be telling people that she’s come out as a lesbian at a ball game, of all places. Who would even care? Then upon second glance, I realized we were at an LGBT event and all the players were gay and lesbian.
By Primary Day, I was good to go, not in need of extra coaching like I was the month before. Unfortunately Sherrie didn’t win, but she came in very close. By the time of her next primary election – May 2015 – I’ll be a real pro. And the following year, it’ll be Mark’s turn again.
So back to the first paragraph. Let’s add a 4th option. The answer is 4 – All of the above.