Justin Elicker woke up on election day morning to a real-life bad dream: At least 10 Toni Harp campaign signs arrayed on his front lawn.
“They had been put there the night before,” Elicker casually told a group of his coordinators and volunteers about two hours later.
“I don’t have time to worry about stuff like that,” he said.
Elicker, a petitioning candidate, is running for mayor against Democratic state Sen. Toni Harp. Tuesday. Election Day morning found him roaming between campaign headquarters and polling places, seeking votes in the very last hours of the campaign.
Elicker didn’t even take down the Harp signs on his lawn. He had to be off on his rounds, he said. When he cruised by on the way back from the polls, someone had removed them for him.
He gave that assessment around 8:30 a.m. as he arrived with a coffee cup in hand at 93 Livingston St. A porch full of signs shared space with a carved pumpkin collection. Andrew Zehner and Nick Gauthier, his get-out-the-vote coordinators for wards 7, 8, 9, 10,19, and 21, were already sending out the troops and coordinating rides.
Between the sign incident and his first meeting with the East Rock coordinators, Elicker had voted, consumed some coffee and a cinnamon raisin bagel, and visited his volunteers and supporters at Wilbur Cross High School, Lincoln Bassett School, King Robinson, Mauro Sheridan, as well as polling places in Westville and Edgewood.
“Just to see if they needed anything,” Elicker said.
They didn’t need much at 93 Livingston, where the mood was upbeat. “We’re ready to unleash the power,” Zehner declared
Soon enough, a stream of door-knocking volunteers entered.
Gauthier offered the first of them, Laura Clampitt, a version of the speech he gave to all volunteers. It contained a message and a question to convey to voters. The message: Voting is important, every votes counts, and we have the numbers to win. The question: How are you getting to the polls, and do you need a ride?
Clampitt was given folder 7-1. Each ward had been divided into four geographical areas. She was assigned to knock on doors on Humphrey, Orange, and Clark.
Gauthier said the canvassing operation was designed to be comprehensive. “We’re doing it so that every door is knocked on four times,” Gauthier said.
While Gauthier and Zehner organized the canvassing, Garrett Ebersole built a spreadsheet of people who needed rides, based on messages from canvassers. The operation was running smoothly, leaving little for the candidate to do.
Elicker finished his coffee, asked to use the bathroom, and then exited on his way to his next stop, the Nathan Hale School, where at 9:30 a.m. he was to meet a television crew for an interview.
On the way to his car, he stopped to chat with Magnolia, a non-voting golden retriever and her voting owners David and Billie Ladd (pictured at top of the story). Magnolia is best friends with the candidate’s dog Captain.
As Elicker pulled away in his black cruiser headed for the East Shore, the Ladds said they were on their way to vote.