For our money, there is perhaps nothing more tedious in the action-packed world of community journalism than the candidate interviews.
These we do before each general election on or before the first Tuesday in November. If you have ever been a candidate or a reader then you may agree with the tedious part.
But candidate interviews are a part of the democratic process in which the journalist asks inciteful questions the candidate answers with a firm grasp of the issues so the voter will support him or her at the ballot box.
Candidate stories are also helpful to voters as one way to learn some personal details about the candidates like their age, line of work and their volunteer work and what they would do about the accursed traffic signals in downtown Chagrin Falls, the jaywalkers in front of Starbucks and if they consider the pumpkin roll a tradition or a felony.
In other words, which of these people would voters like to grab a beer with? OK, hold that thought during the following brief interruption.
Every drama school student knows the drill. It is called “be a tree,” an exercise that requires the actor to play the part of an inanimate object such as a tree, a rock or Melania Trump.
The point is to visually characterize these objects without using words and very minimal movement – unless your tree is experiencing a windstorm, your rock is being turned into gravel or the first lady has just found her husband’s “little black book,” with margin notes.
This year, we took a page from the “be a tree” acting lesson and asked each candidate to tell us the animal they would most like to be other than a human.
Their answers, we presumed, would reveal their inner selves. So we tried it out on the eight people running for the seven seats on Chagrin Falls Council. We asked, “Aside from a human being, what animal would you like to be and why?”
Although the election is over, we won’t reveal who said what. We’ve added our own analysis of each one. See if you can match the candidate with the comment.
“I’m pretty happy with the way things are.” (A no nonsense person or either a rebel for defying the instructions by not choosing an animal or too shy to reveal his favorite).
“A cheetah because it is fast, smart and beautiful.”(This has spunk, the confidence of a big cat, demands respect and a wide berth.)
“I want to be a big dog! I get great pleasure having a dog to walk with in all the beautiful parks in this area. Dogs live in the present moment and always seem happy.” (Obviously this is a dog person and a nature lover with a spiritual soul.)
“How about a bird? They have a great view!” (True enough, and someone who thinks this way tends to put everything into perspective and puts freedom as top of his “to do list.”)
“A monarch butterfly. My kids and I raise a couple monarch caterpillars every year, and I find them to be the most enchanting creatures to watch. They have a light touch. I don’t think we need to fix Chagrin with a sledgehammer.” (A “flutterby” may put one in mind of a person with attention deficit disorder but the rationale stated here is that of a deliberative, careful person and good traits to have if you are working for a constituency.)
“I think like a bear, a mama bear, generally loving but do not threaten my offspring. Also, the idea of eating endlessly in the fall to prepare for an entire winter of sleep appeals to me.”
(Here is an honest person in touch with his or her sense of humor but who can be serious when the occasion calls for a magnifying glass instead of rose colored glasses.)
“A tiger. Because as village residents, we are all Chagrin Falls Tigers!” (A loyal cheerleader with a dash of Eddie Haskell. Not a bad thing because these kinds of people are nimble and able to think on the fly.)
“A mouse, so I can listen in on conversations.” (This candidate is a truth seeker and will go to any lengths to find it, even if they need to become a small rodent.)