SOMEONE MUST DO IT
Why swearing in the news won't save the nation, but your name on a local ballot
By Adrienne Martini
Adrienne Martinis "Somebody has to do it" consists of 50 percent memoirs, 50 percent advice and 100 percent hearts. Martini, a theater major who became a journalist and whose first two memoirs dealt with depression and the fight against the Holy Grail of sweater patterns, was dissatisfied with Donald Trump's presidential win in 2016 and campaigned for District 12 headquarters on the Otsego County Board in the state of New York. When she won, she joined 14 delegates who oversaw a $ 130 million budget and included social services, psychosocial services, road maintenance, law enforcement, emergency services, waste disposal, code enforcement, and legal services. ("Oh, and we want our green spaces to stay green and our water catchment areas to stay blue. We also want our older and frail residents not to starve or freeze.")
A book that aims to motivate people to run for a local office might read the taste of sawdust, but Martini spices up on the subject with gritty humor, ironic backhands aimed at patriarchy, and (most importantly) clear Advice on how to follow her example. She admits that she was watching politics from the sidelines – "I built a comfortable bench with Orla Kiely pillows and a thin white Starbucks chocolate mocha" – and then shows readers exactly how she went out on the field.
This is not your standard tariff for focus group approved politicians. It is an honest first-hand account of a disappointed mother's push into local politics. When her opponent and / or his volunteers plant his lawn signs right in front of them, Martini complains to her husband and wonders if she should go "all Lebowski-y" before deciding that she has already invested enough time in lawn sign logistics , Martini says it as it is by giving prudent instructions and condemning Trump supporters with fiery contempt. ("Yes, yes, I find Trump uncomfortable himself, but it's the grifters around him that really burn my cookies.")
While controlling print flyer and civil service costs, Martini recognizes the comfortable lifestyle that allows her to overcome political obstacles with relative success and ease. Only after Trump's presidency did Martini recognize the mistake of the same competitive conditions in America. She admits that she was "taken in slowly" and she is sorry. ("Really. But now I have the memo.")
When Martini knocks on the door, she wonders what the experience would be like if she weren't a middle-aged white woman. As soon as she is on the board, she points out that she is in the enviable position of being able to work part-time at her “real job” in SUNY Oneonta's alumni office because she can rely on her partner's paycheck. She uses this privilege to make changes: to diversify the board, half of Martini's original platform is to change session times so that citizens who are not old enough to receive social security can get involved, without affecting their livelihood.
Martini shows how critical local government issues correspond to those of the nation. These include the opioid epidemic, affordable housing, fracking, transgender wellness, access to broadband and budget compensation. She interviews a number of recently elected officials, including a mother who wonders if her marriage was the price she paid for her seat. These perspectives enrich Martini's narrative, but what really blew me away was her research into the history of corruption in the coroner's office, which is as disturbing as it is fascinating.
"Someone has to do it" is not sexy or scandalous – and that's the point. Martini shows how "running for a local office costs a small amount of money and time and moxie" and admits that her reign to date "is at the same time the most fascinating and boring thing I've ever done". The reader becomes Martini's running partner on a route that goes disproportionately uphill on the way to a more perfect union. The challenge is well worth the effort, as Martini puts it: "Running very slowly while crying is still moving forward." I haven't read a better summary of the civil service yet.