Thank You Candidates!

I am overwhelmed and tearing up as I type this. Last night was just so inspiring and reassuring and lovely and downright fun.

It was Thank the Candidates Night at our All-You-Can-Eat Buffet. Six candidates for office in Greene County showed up to serve pizza and meet their neighbors. Six. At our little pizza store. Six.

Thank you to Ohio District 73 Representative Rick Perales, Greene County Treasurer and Candidate for Commissioner Dick Gould, CPA, Greene County Clerk of Courts AJ Williams, Candidate for Greene County Commissioner Susan Lopez, Candidate for Clerk of Courts Cyndi Pauwels, and Candidate for Ohio District 73 Representative Kim McCarthy.

It’s not lost on me that we’re a very small pizza store and that six busy, and I suspect exhausted, candidates for office signed on to serve pizza on their last night before election day. My gratitude simply for their support is enough to make the night important and memorable for me–and make me adore them all.

We had never done a Thank the Candidates night. I couldn’t promise them that there would be people to meet or that it would be worth their time on their last night before the election. I could only say that they’d be standing for hours and serving people and that in exchange we’d make a donation in their name to one of our favorite causes. Rick and Dick signed on in minutes. Minutes. That was enough to make it a go. And make me happy. But then the others quickly followed. Amazing and nearly unbelievable. Did I mention that it was six?

I don’t know how to explain what that says about our candidates. About their generosity and kindness. About their willingness to be good sports and jump in with both feet for a small business with an idea. About their commitment to their community and their love of our democracy. They show up. They work. They show up some more. I admire and appreciate them all.

Then I realized that we would have two opposing candidates for three offices in our store. The responsibility to them and our guests and the countless ways the night could quickly go wrong was not lost on me. I was more than a little apprehensive when the night started. I wanted all six of these amazing people to have a good night and be respected and thanked.

I expected everyone to be cordial and respectful, but wouldn’t have been surprised if it was tense and uncomfortable. It could have been a mess that dragged on for hours. It was not.

What we found were six people who genuinely liked and admired each other. Somehow they’re all in it together to give us the amazing gift of having a choice. Of hearing and discussing different viewpoints. Of learning and ideas. Maybe only candidates can understand the unique journey of running for office. Maybe it’s a bond only candidates share. Or maybe they’re all just nice people.

What a night! Rick Perales, Dick Gould, AJ Williams, Susan Lopez, Cyndi Pauwels, and Kim McCarthy and their supporters filled the store with joy and camaraderie and fun. After last night, I like them all the more.

And I thank them. I thank them for showing up and showing up and showing up. Every time they’re asked. All over the county. At events with handfuls of people and thousands. And at our little pizza store. I thank them for running. And I thank them for being people I can admire. What a gift they have all given me and their neighbors. I am proud to know them.

I hope you’ll vote today. Your vote thanks every candidate who runs and every volunteer who wants to make a difference.

What a country we live in. Thank you candidates and candidate families. Thank you voters. Thank you to everyone who fiercely protects our democracy. And thank you Beavercreek.

And now I’m actually in tears. Go vote. Go vote. Go vote. It’s an amazing day all over our country. Go vote.