Obama not only winner in transition

November 23, 2008|By LYN WIDMYER

Like Barack Obama, I just won an election.

My election was on a slightly smaller scale than his. I won a seat on the Jefferson County Commission (W.Va.) with about 9,000 votes. Obama claimed victory with more than 66 million votes.

There are other differences. The day after the election, Obama was deeply immersed in top-level discussions with his transition team. I was doing laundry.

My wardrobe for my last month of campaign appearances was very simple: I wore whatever was clean. After working all day and attending community events at night, the last thing I wanted to do in my free time was laundry.


I took some slacks to the dry cleaner and promptly forgot about them. I figured they were buried beneath one of the piles labeled "to be washed after Election Day." When I finally cleaned my purse of crumpled up speech notes, campaign handouts, "Win with Lyn" stickers, business cards from constituents, and enough loose change to let me park all day in Shepherdstown, I found the dry cleaning ticket. It was like getting two new pairs of pants.

Then there are the signs.

When President-elect Obama met with his transition team, I bet he didn't assign responsibility for clearing signs from yards ("John, you take the red states and Joe, you do the blue states.")

At the local level, community pride dictates that all political signs disappear quickly. My husband started dismantling election signs at daybreak on Nov. 5. Our basement now houses 20 billboard size signs and 400 small yard signs. I wonder where Obama is storing all of his?

During the last days of his campaign, Obama lost his beloved grandmother. During the same time, I lost one of my biggest supporters. Frances Latterell died on Nov. 6 at the age of 87.

Frances never wavered in her interest and commitment to civic issues, even when she faced very painful medical problems during her last months.

As I joined other friends to help sort through some of Frances' clothes, I was touched by her library of community involvement. Frances kept old programs from charity events, newspaper clippings of local issues and membership cards from dozens of civic groups.

One of the most gratifying aspects of going door to door during my campaign was discovering how many younger people are concerned about the county's future. Frances would be pleased.

As an elected official, I am going to follow Mr. Obama's lead and use the Internet to keep younger folks engaged in government. Jefferson County needs to do much better in terms of "e-government." Upgrading the county's Web site will be one of my top priorities.

President-elect Obama plans to spend about $12 million dollars on his transition from the Senate to the White House. My projected transition costs are not quite so high. I have bought two filing cabinets and two boxes of file folders.

I will also spend money on a key item that I bet is nowhere on Obama's transition list: Laundry detergent.

Lyn Widmyer is a Jefferson County, W.Va., resident who writes for The Herald-Mail.

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