Founder/CEO

Monday, November 18, 2013


My Top 9 Political Lessons

First and foremost, I would like to THANK all of you for your love/support during my run for political office here in the City of Niagara Falls, NY. Now that a couple weeks have gone by since our General Election, and I’ve had alittle time to process some of my thoughts about my experiences, I wanted to share with you my Top 9 Political Lessons I've learned. Before I do this, I want to give you a summarized idea of what I was able to successfully accomplish as a political candidate, and what this means on our local geopolitical landscape. Willfully this encourages some of you to also take this step to serve your City in this capacity.

Let me begin with my July 4th, 2013 Press Release announcing that I’m running for public office to represent our 4th legislative district; the highest minority population, and poorest areas in the county, according to U.S. Census data. I had already begun my research and assessed my potential support months in advance, and was convinced that I stood an excellent chance of being chosen to represent our district; given my educational background, and experience serving this community, and other communities, on a grassroots level. From working within various local youth programs to creating my own mentorship programs, publishing several books, lecturing nationally, writing over 200 articles for various national/international publications, being a program consultant for Gangland, working as a media consultant for an Artist/Actor from the series OZ, and operating a national prison correspondence and book donation program, my goal was to inform my community members about what I’ve actually done, and what I do. Because I saw how Politicians usually sold people on the idea of what they wish to do, will try to do, and plan to do once they get into office, my approach was to simply bring people up to date on what I’ve actually done, what I currently do, and encourage them to research it for themselves. Thus, they can decide for themselves if I’m qualified enough to represent the needs of our community in a legislative capacity. I did this because I am 100% confident that the more knowledge a person acquires, the wiser choices they will make.

When I stepped into the political arena, I was a wild card from the start; neither an elephant, or a donkey, I was a strait up earthflower. Registered Green Party, I was one of about 7 other party members in a district of well over 6,000 registered voters. My core campaign team consisted of three people, no campaign manager, great advice, and a war chest of about $1,000. Because of my background as a youth mentor, and community activist, I then sought out to make the political process more accessible to everyday people who wanted nothing to do with the petty politricks, politicians, and political rhetoric ruining out city. Thus the Niagara Youth Party was created to emphasize unity in our family and communities, with our four pillars being Youth Outreach, Crime Prevention, Localism, and Health and Wellness.

The fact that I unofficially got about 25% of the voters in our Primary Election to write-in my name on the Democratic ballot was unheard of! I won the Working Families Primary via people writing my name in too. This successfully happened even though I have an uncommon/ethnic name, and I had no political mailers, no media coverage, no endorsements of a major political party, associations, or unions. In the General Election I doubled the number of votes I received during the Primary Election, and again received over 20% of the votes; almost the same amount of votes received by a major political party. This kind of voter turn-out has never happened before in the history of our City, which for years, and even during this past election, usually votes according to a party affiliation, not for people. This was one of the most significant examples to date, that demonstrates a paradigm shift of a party liner era. This marked a sign of things to come... for our next generation;  a growing segment of our population who actually vote across party lines for people who they know are the most qualified to represent them, regardless of their party affiliation, their name, or ethnicity.

That being said, now let me share My Top 9 Political Lessons:
  1. Politics are a Team Game. Even though I had such a phenomenal turn-out, and received a lot of public/private support from people affiliated with the Republican and Democratic party, I was still looked at as an uncommitted, unsigned, free agent because I wasn't signed with the Democrats or Republicans on paper. I've had people literally tell me, "I wish you were a Democrat!" and others say they voted for me because I'm really a Republican. Now the most frequent questions people ask me are; "Are you going to run again?", and "Are you going to affiliate yourself with, and help build, one of our major parties?"
  2. Certain things don't change, and won't change, because some people are in paid positions to uphold a status quo, and keep things the same. These gate keepers are people, black and white, who have rationalized that the scraps they're personally given, are alot better than the crumbs everybody else is getting -and the people giving them these scraps are eating a five course meal.
  3. Fundraising. Although I did alot with the little money I raised, I know the importance of a real budget now. Something as simple as a political mailer with my unique Dos Equis lawn sign on it, would have definately gotten more votes.
  4. When you run for political office, whether you're elected or not, you've still brought issues to the table that people will continue to consider, after that election year. In other words, whether you're elected or not, you're still front stage and center. If one of your main platform points was 'Health and Wellness', you better believe people are going to watch what you eat, the health initiatives you're now supporting, and if you're packing on pounds. In my case, the message I consistently shared with our voters is my Bio; I'm a successful youth mentor, published author, community activist, and public speaker. This is what I actually do for a living, not something I wished, hoped, and would try to do once I got elected to a local political office. Because people are starting to become more aware of this, various opportunities have opened up to me to continue doing just that. This only becomes more of an asset, if I'm considering running for a political office in the future.
  5. Things people say about you become old news quick when you ignore it. Feeding into "some" things only allows it to live, and sting somebody else. Sometimes, the only statement you need to make is how inappropriate, inconsiderate, or even racist something is, and how you refuse to even dignify that question/accusation with a response.
  6. Politicians buy votes, and people bet on political elections like the OTB.
  7. Your enemy's enemy is your friend.
  8. When people say, "I support you", it doesn't mean, "I'll vote for you." When people say "I'll vote for you", that doesn't mean, "I voted for you", or "I vote" at all. As a political candidate, aside from all the doors you knock on, hands you shake, donations you get, and etc., it all comes down to basic political science; how many votes were cast for you within a 15 hour period in one day. This is what thousands of hours of campaigning, and money, ultimately comes down to.
  9. As I've stated, the consistent message throughout my campaign was, "This is what I've done, this is what I do, here is where you can verify it, and then you decide for yourself what my qualifications/potential is to represent our legislative district." In otherwords, I came to the local political table like a rapper meeting with a record label, who was already selling half a million albums out of the trunk of my car;  a business acumen Rapper E-40 coined 'independent hustle'). Therefore, I was looking for a distribution deal to help expand what the label (legislative district) was currently offering. I wasn't a starving artist begging for record deal. So instead of agreeing to these mutually beneficial terms, the artist that's currently on the label got their 360 Deal renewed for another two years.
In conclusion, my overall experience was excellent, and there are still many things I'm learning each day. I appreciate having this opportunity to learn, grow, and I can't thank those of you enough who helped support our local Movement. Because of this experience, I'm becoming more equipped to continue positively impacting the lives of people globally, and locally. As for what's next for me politically, we will see.

Peace,
Saladin
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