At 6:45 on Tuesday night, I was cooking dinner (if you can believe it) when the phone rang. Against my better judgment, I picked it up. Sure enough. A political call.
“I’m sorry to call at dinner time,” the friendly woman said. “But I wanted to remind you to vote in the city election November third.” “I plan to,” I said in a not-at-all-friendly tone. “And I would like you to consider voting for (a certain City Council candidate),” she said. “I’ll consider it,” I snapped before hanging up.
And I will. But you know what impression that phone call left me with? The candidate doesn’t care about me. Not a bit. He is willing to disrupt my dinner time for his own benefit.
So I thought I’d call all 10 City Council candidates and see what they thought about the issue. (They’re just lucky I didn’t call them during dinner!) Here’s what they had to say:
Robert Marlino (District 1): “We try very hard to limit interruptions of people’s lives,” Marlino said. “We don’t do door-to-door after dark. We don’t want to make people mad. We conduct most of our campaign via e-mails. But we’ve been advised by campaign consultants that the best time to reach people is between six and eight at night. We have done a limited amount of calling during that time.”
Nick Pavlis (District 1): “We don’t use phone calls,” Pavlis said. “We always use direct mail and door-to-door. We’ve made phone calls to ask people to put up yard signs. But we don’t use them to push votes. We’ve never utilized it. I don’t think it’s effective, to tell you the truth. With direct mail, you can always throw it away if you don’t want to read it. Phone calls just make people mad.”
Duane Grieve (District 2): “I have mixed feelings about it. It’s one thing to send printed material, but it’s intrusive to call people during dinner,” he said, adding that he himself is not making calls at dinner time. But his volunteers could be. “We don’t have an organized effort, but we do have supporters who are willing to send post cards and make phone calls and it’s up to them when they do that,” he said.
Ken Knight (District 2): “I have always tried to be very aware of people’s schedule and their time,” he said. “We don’t intentionally schedule calls during dinner. But if someone is eating around nine o’clock, we can’t help that.” Knight said he avoids knocking on doors and making phone calls between 5 and 7 p.m.
Gerry W. Holman (District 3): “That aggravates me just like everyone else,” he said. “We have five people making calls and they have to work it into their schedule and I don’t control that. It’s not ideal, but it can happen. But I know these people and, for the most part, they are going to be calling after they have their own dinner.” Holman added that he is seeing a lot of confusion among voters about whether they can vote in every district (they can). And, he added, “The apathy is nothing short of amazing.”
Brenda Palmer (District 3): “I prefer not to call anyone during dinner and I prefer not to be called during dinner. But we don’t all have dinner at the same time,” Palmer said. She said she has used a phone bank during her campaign, and the calls were made from 4 to 8 p.m. She said the phone bank will be operational again on Monday, but those calls will be made from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. “I personally try not to make calls between six and seven,” she said. “But I called someone at seven the other day and they had gone to bed at six o’clock!”
Ray Abbas (District 4): “It’s a conundrum,” Abbas said. “The best time to reach the most voters is right after they get home from work. You hope not to disturb them. We’ve left lots of messages. I figure a lot of people don’t answer the phone during dinner.” Abbas says he has volunteers who come to his house between 10 and 10:30 a.m. and make calls throughout the day. They then follow up with post cards.
Nick Della Volpe (District 4): “A lot of people aren’t home until five or five-thirty,” he said. “And since we don’t call after eight, we have a very short window. Unfortunately, we are going to have to do some of that.” Della Volpe said his campaign will be making calls the last two days of the race. “I certainly don’t think you should have a call service that delivers a taped message,” he said. “But you’ve got to do whatever you think might be effective. You just try to be pleasant and not irritate them too much.”
Daniel T. Brown (District 6): “I have done very little calling, but I do have people calling for me and the volunteers may be calling at that time,” Brown said. “My mother always taught us that if the phone rings during dinner, you just say, ‘I will call you back.'”
Charles A. Frazier (District 6): “Unfortunately, I’ve done it. I think all of us are going to do it. In our society now days, you don’t know when dinner time is,” Frazier said. “I have called at dinner. I always ask ‘Did I catch you at a bad time?’ People appreciate you respecting their time.”
Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 3, and polls are open from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. You get to vote for one candidate in each district – no matter where you live in the city. Please vote.