From the moment I decided to run for city council, everyone told me that door knocking is the most important political tool of any campaign - the king of voter engagement. It is the best way to get people to care about your issues and ideas and ultimately ask for their vote. Door knocking is a must-do for any local campaign.
This past week, I arrived at the very first neighborhood on my list. With all my courage, I got out of my car with clipboard, campaign flyers and pen in hand. I was ready to knock on my first door. So many things were racing through my mind. Stats about the city, prepared intro scripts, a few ice breaker jokes. I was ready for anything. (Or so I thought)
You would think that after being an anchor of the Waltham Channel Newswatch for eight years, I’d be prepared for face-to-face interaction with people I’d never met. Well … it turns out that talking in front of a camera is so much more manageable.
You would also think that as a real estate agent I could do door-knock without a hiccup or problem. Well … it also turns out that selling a house is a lot easier.
I rang that first doorbell and no one answered. So I knocked … but still no one came to the door. There was a car in the driveway but no one was coming to the door. I waited but no one ever came. So I left my flyer with a little note and I moved on to the next home. Then I was on to next and another after that. My first five homes in a row and not a single open door!
I started getting worried. Maybe I was doing something wrong. Maybe I’m not knocking loud enough or pressing only broken doorbells. By now I was a nervous wreck.
Finally on my sixth home someone finally came to the door and we talked for a couple of minutes. I gave the person my flyer and I went to the next home.
That’s all that it took. That magical sixth home reassured that was doing the right thing and everything is going to be okay. It also made me realize that perhaps the past five doorbells were not broken. There were some people home and wanted to chat while others were maybe too busy and didn’t have the time to talk. No big deal. I was fine with either scenario. I just needed to keep plugging along and introduce myself to Waltham residents.
Four hours later I was exhausted and a sweaty mess so I called it a day and went home. On my way home I thought about how I felt at that first door and how I felt on the last door I knocked on. Both brought a big smile to my face.
If you want to make a difference in your community, many times you have to step out of your comfort zone. You have to bring that change that you keep talking about to yourself before you can apply it to your community.
And when I got home there was a voicemail message on my home phone from someone stating that they had received my flyer, was impressed with my ideas and even promised to vote for me.
It was a successful day.
If you see me in your neighborhood please come up and say hi.
Carlos Vidal is an at-large candidate for Waltham City Council.@carlos4waltham