I voted for myself and won a seat on my township's board of commissioners | Stay Weird, Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

I voted for myself and won a seat on my township's board of commissioners

Voting is fun. There are all kinds of buttons to push. There’s the sad guy standing in front of the precinct entrance in a belted trench raincoat, handing out flyers for a candidate you never heard of and probably aren’t voting for. And there is always the chance that you will write yourself in for a commissioner’s seat and get elected … with one vote … your vote … that you cast for yourself?

A couple of days ago, I received a letter from the office of Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald that I let sit on the coffee counter like I would any piece of mail. And, like with every piece of mail, I reached the statute of limitations created by my wife for how long I can procrastinate opening the envelope. My guess was some pertinent information on my voting record needed to be corrected or something of that nature.

The wording of the letter was about as bureaucratic as any document from the government could be, because beyond making hugely important decisions that affect the livelihood of its constituents, the government’s other main function is to make procedures as confusing as possible, so that you’ll eventually get bored and ignore how they have failed you.

But after three or four reads, it became somewhat clear that I have won a seat on my township’s board of commissioners. I have to disclose my campaign finance records (those don’t exist), get the letter notarized, and unless I’m contested, it appears that I will be the third of three commissioners — the other two elected ahead of me by a slim margin of more than one vote.

While this is all very humorous to me in a “biggest surprise of 2019 — or perhaps the decade — kind of way,” I’d be lying if I said that not having curbside recycling pickup in 2019 doesn’t baffle me. Our municipal building has two dumpsters where you can drop off the recycling, but they are often full, which leaves residents driving back to their houses in cars filled with aromatic tuna cans and wet pizza boxes. 

I love my neighborhood and often think of changes that could be made to make it a better place. Why do we have park lights if they are never replaced? Is that charcoal grill that’s affixed to a metal post and buried in overgrowth really necessary? Should the basketball hoops have nets that the ball gets stuck in with every made shot? Why is there a porta-potty in the park’s parking lot when the township just built a restroom in the park?

It might be time to inject some millennial (I’m technically the oldest a millennial can be) sensibility into my local government. Let’s take a peek behind Oz’s curtain and see how we can make government work better for everyone. Of course, there’s always the possibility they just won’t let me in.