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Tomlin: Hoping to set a positive example with a 'campaign of integrity'

In 2019 I launched a political campaign. I realized that I had the opportunity to make a positive impact in a small town and decided to go for it. However, on May 14, I lost my bid to serve as the mayor of Hampstead.

While I was disappointed that I only received roughly 30% of the vote. I was more disappointed that only around 15% of the approximately 4,200 registered voters showed up to the polls. Still, through the disappointment, I walked out of Town Hall that night with my head held high because I knew I ran a campaign of integrity.

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We live in a time of political divisiveness. When running for office, rival candidates spend less time talking about the positive attributes they bring to the table and instead focus more on making the other candidate look bad. At the start of my campaign I was asked if I was ready to “crush” my political opponent. I was told it was the only way I was going to remove an incumbent of 24 years from office.

Admittedly at first, I felt that in order to bring some justice to our town that I had to win by any means necessary. I wrote an article that was published in this very paper calling out my opponent for his support of Hampstead Overlook. A proposal that is set to build 250 homes on contaminated land. The language I used was rather tame in comparison to today’s political rhetoric but after the article was published, I realized that running a negative campaign felt very unnatural to me. That’s when I decided to take a different approach.

I decided that I was going to run a campaign of integrity. I wanted to focus more on what I brought to the table. I am confident in my ability and proud of my accomplishments. If I was going to win this election, I wanted to do it in a positive way. I knew that the chances of me winning by running my campaign in this way were slim but sometimes all it takes is one person to set an example and my hope was that others would follow my lead.

Even though I lost, I ran a very professional campaign. I utilized many of the marketing tactics that I learned from being in business for myself and it showed. My yard signs were red, white and blue. They stood out. My social media page looked very professional in contrast to my competitors and the target marketing was incredibly effective. In fact, I had almost 3 1/2 times the number of people following my campaign as an individual than my competitor had with the addition of his two running mates. We sent out two rounds of professional designed mailers as well.

I spent a lot of time working on my answers to the questions asked during the candidate forum. I had case studies, numbers and a plethora of ideas. I spoke about lost opportunity costs, the use of technology to create efficiency and demonstrated my knowledge on various topics. After the forum, I was asked why I did not call out my opponent on certain things. My response was that I wanted to run on my own merits. I had hoped the voters would see through some of the political maneuvering performed my opponent and I was much more focused on leading by example. This included ensuring that after the forum was done, I stood up, walked over and shook hands.

I was never directly attacked by my opponent or his camp but their supporters got pretty nasty. At one point, a candidate from another race asked how I handled the negativity. I responded by saying, “I know who I am and that’s all that matters.”

I lost the election, but by running a positive campaign I believe by keeping my integrity, I helped set an example that I hope others will follow.

I want to thank everyone that supported me during this adventure. It means more than you know.

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