Daniel Smiechowski running in the San Diego Fire-Rescue 5K. Courtesy of the author

Last month, while sitting on a park bench at Spanish Landing, I was engrossed in thought. Thinking of how a municipal election is so contingent upon voters’ perceptions, their inherent bias and prejudice, political correctness and even a candidate’s looks. Then something suddenly occurred which transcended my thoughts.

I had been resting after running in the annual San Diego Fire-Rescue 5k and Kids Run. Now it was the kids’ turn, and the children were all lined up with their proud mamas. I was touched by how the little ones were trying so hard to please their parents.

The ultimate judgement in their success came from within, however, and no one on earth could steal victory. It is so contrary to running for political office, which I have attempted many times. Whether running for school board, city council or mayor, the opposite holds true.

As the children ran, the group became slower and slower until I witnessed raw emotion, something as powerful as you will ever see. A little boy was barely moving, mostly swaying from side to side, but encouraged on by his mother’s voice and love. The child finished the event by shear effort from within; he  very likely could win the next event under proper circumstances.

But it’s different in politics—the opposite, in fact. In politics, winning is born from without.

I once a believed in America’s time-honored political system. I got along, worked well with others, played nice and actually believed anyone could get elected in San Diego. But that was 45 years ago. Unlike the little boy running with his mother, the voters will not run with a man named Smiechowski.

These are not my words; they have been echoed by professional pundits and consultants for decades. The name is a disability. I still think of the little boy and his liberation in running, his ability to ultimately win and stand proud. All is due to self with no voters judging his name or pedigree.

In a way, I am that little boy, despite my 65 years of age, because several minutes earlier I finished in first place, crushing the competition in my age group. No voter can possibly prohibit my dreams and stop me from victory in running.

Yes, indeed, running for mayor is not like the Olympics.

Daniel “Danny” Smiechowski is a Clairemont resident, prolific writer on education issues, former candidate for San Diego City Council and current candidate for Mayor.

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