What Makes Bobby Run?
by Bobby Sturgell

Today has been like many other days over the past four months. The alarm rings around 4:45am and, by 5:30, I am on my way out the door. A quick stop at the Dash-In for coffee, doughnuts and the day's newspapers, and I am back in the car and heading to an area of high-density traffic, where I will spend the next few hours sign-waving to bleary-eyed commuters on their way to work.

Perhaps one or two simply acknowledge my presence and continue on their way. Some will sound a much-appreciated blast of the horn. In the end, I will measure the success of this early morning campaigning by how many not-so-friendly gestures of a particular finger I receive. Today was a good day; only two signs of disapproval.

As the rush hour winds down, I get in the car and head to work myself. Along the way, the passenger seat is stacked high with today's editions of The Capital, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, The Sun, The Prince George's Journal and the weekly editions of New Bay Times, The Enquirer-Gazette, The Voice, The Recorder, The Independent and The Herald-Observer. Enough already!

When I reach the predictable areas of congestion, notably the Wilson Bridge, I quickly devour the papers, searching for articles relating to Maryland and the district I am striving to represent.

(I suppose one of the benefits of this campaign has been an improvement in my speed-reading skills.)

At work as a flight operations supervisor for United Airlines at Dulles Airport, my day consists of the routine tracking of pilot performance and proficiency, supplemented by a healthy dose of crisis management caused by changes in the day-to-day operations and other daily assignments. Occasionally I will fly a trip myself to maintain proficiency as a fully qualified pilot.

At the end of the day, I head back home. Usually, I stop and spend a few hours knocking on the doors of the citizens of the district, all while pitching my ideas and seeking their votes. Some nights will include attending meetings - the local VFW, Lions Club, a citizens association - or a speaking engagement. Though many people ask, I haven't kissed any babies yet, but I have been in a parade and attended numerous picnics.

On most nights, I will arrive home until around 9 or 9:30pm and sit down to a brief dinner. Then there will be phone calls to key campaign personnel to see how things are progressing. How are the finances? Do we need more signs? What's on the weekly calendar? How are people reacting to our message?

After that, it's upstairs to the computer, where I will type several letters to various editors or respond to individual citizens based on what I've read that day. A few e-mails, and it's lights out around 12:30am, midnight if I am lucky.

Tonight, I am not lucky. It is now 1am and, in a few short hours, the process will start all over. Weekends are much the same.

Such is my life as a candidate.

Why do I subject myself to this schedule?

I grew up here and I love Southern Maryland and its quality of life. Yet for all that we have going for us, our state has the second highest personal taxes in the nation, the second highest real estate settlement taxes and the second worst traffic. We are the fourth most violent state in the nation. We undermine our anti-drug message by providing free needles to drug addicts. I ask myself, is that the best government can do to help the communities being destroyed by the ravages of drugs and HIV?

In the meantime, seven state legislators were either expelled, resigned or investigated for ethics violations in the most recent legislative session. Yet we will never know the results of the investigations in time to hold these people accountable because the investigations are being deliberately delayed until after the general election.

Finally, we are using our tax dollars to build stadiums for millionaire owners, and we are dumping dredged sludge from Baltimore's harbor into the Bay off Anne Arundel County.

We can do better. Much better. And I still believe, foolishly or not, that individuals (especially when acting together) can make a difference and, yes, they can change the world.

That is why I run, and that is why I am setting my alarm clock for 4:45am.


Editor's Note: Bobby Sturgell, a newcomer to politics, is the Republican candidate for the Maryland State Senate in District 27.

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Volume VI Number 41
October 15-21, 1998
New Bay Times

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