It’s the morning after an Augusta municipal election.

As campaign manager for another successful candidate, we are basking with him in the afterglow of victory that comes as the fruition of seven months of intense work.

Only those ever involved in an election campaign behind the scenes can appreciate the sacrifices made by the candidates.

Hard-working, incumbent citywide councilor Cecil Munson deserved re-election. He swept all four wards and the absentee vote in an overwhelming first-place finish against three other formidable candidates. (Dale McCormick gets to join him on the council in this rare vote-for-two election).

An incredible group of supporters, dubbed the “Munson coalition,” had been put together for Munson. I think the coalition was unprecedented.

In the previous two elections, we experienced the excitement of wins for the election of Bill Stokes as mayor and the re-election of Dave Rollins as councilor at-large.

Augusta politics all started for me with involvement in a local environmental and neighborhood issue, in the late 1980s. Then I served two raucous, contentious terms on the Augusta City Council in the early 1990s, during the days of extreme anti-establishment participants at council meetings.

After that I was hooked and found it impossible not to be involved in elections.

Ken Knight, now chairman of the Greater Augusta Utilities District, was my first campaign. We did a poll. With two weeks to go, Ken, who was then an unknown, was a 2-1 underdog to an anti-establishment activist. He won, after a recount.

My friend, Mike Byron, moved from nearby Manchester to Augusta, and he wanted to run for City Council. His opponent would be Democrat state Rep. Arthur Lerman — an almost impossible race for a “carpetbagger” who had just moved into the city.

The key in this one was research.

In the Portland Phoenix newspaper, Lerman was quoted, “Governor Baldacci just wouldn’t let us raise taxes.” We made the campaign a referendum about taxes.

Mike won, again after a recount, probably our biggest upset.

When Rollins decided he would run for citywide seat on the council, most of the first 100 people polled said they wondered if he can win.

Dave defeated an incumbent and a third candidate who had almost won in the previous election.

His slogan, “a new spirit for Augusta,” created a new image for a guy with a big heart and a love for his city. Dave’s wife, Jan, dubbed me “relentless.” I like that.

Along the way, I have been involved in 14 campaigns for various mayors, councilors, state reps, even a candidate for sheriff. All have been successful.

I have even enjoyed the opportunity to advise a couple of gubernatorial candidates.

I love politics and become very frustrated with those who hate it or even refuse to participate by not voting.

But I want to complete this column with a salute to my generation.

On Election Day, it wasn’t the low turnout that drew my attention. Instead, I found a different story.

I saw people who are now considered elderly (people from my generation) coming to the polls despite physical limitations visited on them by the aging process.

They make it the polls no matter what. I saw voters with walkers, canes, even one with his oxygen, a few in wheelchairs.

I saw veterans, with their identifiable hats or buttons. “I’m voting because I fought for this. I don’t want to hear any complaints from the people who did not vote today.”

Another said, “This is one of the few freedoms we have left.”

Then there was the woman in the north end who called Munson on his cellphone (the number of which was prominently displayed on all his advertising materials). “Cecil,” she said, “I want to vote, but I can’t get there, can you come pick me up?”

I went and got her. She was a wonderful woman well into her 80s. As I held her arm and helped her out of the car and into the civic center, she said, “I have never missed an election, and I love Cecil.”

Here in America, we are indeed the luckiest people in the world.

Let it be a lesson to young folks as they inherit the future from those who have given them so much. We hope to see them at the polls at the next election.

Don Roberts is a former city councilor and vice chairman of the Charter Commission in Augusta. He is a trustee of the Greater Augusta Utility District, and a representative to the Legislative Policy Committee of Maine Municipal Association.

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