Our local and state elections are tomorrow and, of course, the mid-term Congressional elections are coming up in November. I’m already tired of the backbiting and political ads. As I was watching the news coverage of the candidates’ slog through the state shaking hands and kissing babies, it occurred to me that campaigning is a tough way to get a job. Is the investment worth it?
For example, in a small town where relatives of mine live, the sheriff’s position is up for grabs. The job pays probably $25,000 a year – not much even for a small town. There are twelve, count ‘em, TWELVE candidates running for this job. I know one candidate in particular has already spent over $30,000 on the campaign, even going so far as to mortgage the house to raise funds. Is that investment worth it?
Let’s think about it for a minute. The sheriff’s term runs for four years. That is potentially $100,000 in salary before taxes. Other added benefits to the job – you get a cool car to drive that has lights on top, a siren, a big engine, and a trunk full of emergency equipment. Of course, it’s white with SHERIFF on the side, but it’s a car! People slow down when they see you coming. You never get accused of road rage in that car because you can always claim they were “obstructing justice” or “interfering with a police officer in the execution of his duties” and that’s why you shot at them. Traffic jams part like the Red Sea when you turn on the lights and siren.
What other benefits? You get to carry a firearm, cuffs, mace, maybe a taser, a billy club and a big flashlight that has about 1 billion candlepower. Most restaurants, especially Dunkin’ Donuts, give you free meals because having you sitting at their counter deters the gang members who are thinking of robbing the cash register. You are always believed in court by juries even if you are lying through your teeth.
If you are really lucky, one of the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted will turn up in your county and you might get on TV. You might get to meet John Walsh and be in a “supporting role” on America’s Most Wanted. You will definitely get on TV when the tornado rips through the trailer park on the west side of town. That might lead to a spot on American Idol or even Jay Leno – you never know. Crazier things have happened. Look at Paris Hilton.
Other benefits, other benefits….hey, you get to go to state law enforcement “seminars” in far away exotic places like Cleveland or Boise. You get to write requests to the Department of Homeland Security for things like Geiger counters and other gadgets that no one in the county has the IQ to figure out. If you are lucky, you might get a K9 partner to ride along with you for drug sniffing purposes or just to keep someone from stealing your cruiser while you are in Dunkin Donuts.
Of course, there is the “off the books” compensation, too. If you are in law enforcement in places like, oh, say New Orleans or Phenix City, Alabama, you can probably expect some of the local “citizens” to “donate” appropriate items to make your life easier such as landscaping services, a new Caddy for the wife, a Sea Ray cruiser, or other basic essentials needed to keep up the good image. But we are talking about a small town Sheriff in this instance so maybe that should be revised to a new pick up and a Bass Tracker.
You know, the more I look at this, the more I think that $30,000 isn’t too much to sink into a public job search aka a “campaign”. Sure makes the few bucks for a professional resume seem paltry.