The Journey of a Thousand Miles

Updated: Apr 18

For me, March 10, 2020, was an extraordinary day in my political career. Although it was the normal filing day for local political races, very little seemed normal about it.

A slightly surreal atmosphere had settled over filing day as people had begun to understand that the COVID-19 pandemic had silently crept onto American soil and that we would soon begin living under unfamiliar circumstances. The day was eerily quiet. The Los Alamos County Council chambers, where the Los Alamos County Clerk's Office had set up shop for the day, was so still that the sound of the fluorescent light fixtures reverberated almost subliminally off the high walls as I walked inside.

Fortunately, the friendly, welcoming voices of the Clerk's staff cut through the moribund silence and broke the spell, turning the occasion into the celebratory event that it normally should have been. Thank goodness we have such good people manning the Ship of State!

A long time ago, back when I was on the County Council in the late 1990s, I told someone that I thought every citizen should at least run for office, and preferably serve at least one term as an elected official. Why? Because the process of running for office forces a candidate (or a serious one, at least) to learn some things about his or her community and about how our Democratic Republic functions in the most rudimentary sense.

Actually serving in office makes a person realize that the Wheels of Democracy churn slowly; no candidate, no matter how popular or skilled, can wave a magic wand and manifest an outlandish campaign promise within a month or two of being elected. Getting things done as an elected official at the local level requires planning, and working with political colleagues to build consensus. After all the flag-waving and sloganeering is finished, the real work begins, and that work will only come to fruition through pragmatism and compromise.

Looking ahead at the Primary and General elections seems like I'm staring at the horizon and squinting to see what lies 1,000 miles down an unfamiliar road. But as the old saying goes, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. I'm glad I took that first step on March 10, and I look forward to having you join me on my jamboree.

See you out along the campaign trail!

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James Rickman

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