From The Other Side Of The Bench
By David J. Seidemann, Esq.
All the trunks and duffel bags are packed, and the kids are ready to leave for four weeks of bugs, sunburn, lack of sleep, and unlimited funds at the canteen. That’s what I call it; others call it “camp.” For me it marks the conclusion of another school year of me telling my children, “How do I know? I haven’t sat in a classroom for years. Go call a friend!” None of their schoolwork material is remotely familiar to me, so it falls on my wife’s able shoulders to assist the girls with their homework.
I do, however, lend a hand, albeit a small one, when it comes to major projects and fairs. I confess to trying to get each girl to do the same project as her older sister did in prior years, to make it easier on me. The joke in the family when they return from the science fair is “What grade did Mommy and I get on the project?” I have been waiting for the day when my daughters would assist me on one of my projects, and that day finally came.
Unless you have been living in a cave, you are probably aware that my bid to join the Village of Lawrence board of trustees fell short by nine votes. Losing by nine votes to my ticketmate suits me fine. I have every confidence that he will accomplish for the village that which I wanted to accomplish. Losing by 200 votes to the incumbent is also fine. He works tirelessly for the village and will continue to do so in the future.
The campaign itself was invigorating and, as I had predicted and hoped, was free of the shenanigans that have marred other campaigns. People thought that our slogan, “Restoring Unity to the Community” was meant for only after the election and represented my hope that, once elected, I would work toward unifying the board and various segments within our community.
But I think the campaign and the election have accomplished that to a degree already. I believe we demonstrated that different people could aspire to elected office and run against each other with dignity and respect. I salute all the candidates for the behavior that was displayed.
Call me crazy, but in many respects, I feel as if I won. I ran because I wanted to light a fire under people to become more involved in the village. It worked, because a record number of voters turned out. It worked, because an entire new segment of the community became involved in the process. People that never voted before voted.
I won because I made a strategic decision and gave my word to another on how to run, and when it was pointed out to me that I could increase my chances of winning by changing that strategy, and by breaking my word to that other person, I kept my word.
I won because in the process I developed an entire new group of friends and renewed old friendships with important community figures.
I won because I conquered the part of my personality that said, “Don’t run—why expose yourself to possible public scrutiny and the embarrassment of losing?”
I won because losing isn’t embarrassing, but not trying might be.
But here is why and how I really won.
Throughout the six weeks or so of the campaign, I had a constant companion. She attended every meeting, was involved (whether I asked her or not) in every decision, pushed me when I got lazy, and was the campaign’s greatest voice.
The time and effort my daughter Chaviva put into the election is indescribable. I received calls and e‑mails from numerous rabbis in the community and phone calls and texts from total strangers marveling at the spirit my Chaviva displayed.
In fact, last Friday afternoon, just two hours before Shabbos, our mayor, Marty Oliner, had a personal letter from him hand-delivered to my Chaviva complimenting her on her efforts and stating that what she did and the way she conducted herself should inspire others.
Rabbi Reisman’s comments were just as poignant. The rabbi commented that in addition to her example of civic duty, what impressed him most was how evident it was how much she loved and respected her father, and that itself is an example for all, young and old.
And when the votes were tallied, when it was announced that victory was not something I would celebrate, I gave Chaviva, who was sobbing at the time, a hug and told her, “I won because I have you as my daughter.”
On this joint project of ours, I give Chaviva an A+. v
David Seidemann is a partner with the law firm of Seidemann and Mermelstein and serves as a professor of business law at Touro College. He can be reached at 718-692-1013 or firstname.lastname@example.org.