Take a look at your local candidates, the people you see about town, politiciking wherever and whenver they can to get their messages across. Forget for a moment if they're Republican or Democrat or neither.
Whatever their affilitations, they have one thing in common: They cared enough about something to run, to put themselves out there, and to give up a good chunk of their time to wage a tireless campaign, win or lose.
"Until I actually ran a race I didn't know how grueling it was," said Terry Kemple, a candidate for the District 4 seat on the Hillsborough County School Board, who was spotted Nov. 1 outside Ben's Family Restaurant in Brandon. "It really is a grueling process, that's all I can say, and some candidates run for a year or longer. I just have an admiration for the effort they put into it."
Later that night, Mark Nash, a candidate for the District 4 seat on the Hillsborough County Commission, was spotted at the ECHO Trunk Show at the Barn Theatre at Winthrop, a fundraiser for the Emergency Care Help Organization in Brandon.
"At the local level it has nothing to do with being Democrat or being Republican," he said. "It's about good ideas and building a community that works for everybody."
Toward that end, the candidate on the local front is in the public spotlight everywhere he or she goes. No need to fly into town to rally; local candidates live in their towns, among their constituents, and rally there every day — at the gas station, at candidate forums, at fundraisers, at the supermarket, at the restaurant down the street.
Like many other candidates, Nash said he has done everything he can think of to run a race that reaches out to a broad spectrum of the community. Toward that end, he gives credit, too, to the volunteer, who on behalf of a candidate will wave signs on a street corner, knock on doors, hand out campaign literature and, on the Web, extend the candidate's reach through email, Facebook and other social media channels.
In turn, Greg Zimmer, a member of the Kiwanis Club of Greater Brandon, which meets Thursday mornings at Ben's Family Restaurant, gives high praise to the neighbor who steps up to the plate to qualify for a race and to run a campaign.
Your local candidate, he said, has the drive and conviction to see a vision through, and even if that vision is not your own, "any person who is involved like that warrants our respect."
"And they deserve our vote," Zimmer added. "If we don't vote, it's almost un-American."