Hard to write fiction when you’ve covered a small town

This is blog is, in my heart anyway, a thought experiment wrapped in the cloak of local politics. Quite a thing, local politics. Ultimately and alternatingly more redemptive and more cruel than the national business. Jeff Winkler penned a post for The Awl yesterday entitled “My Sister the Candidate.” In this, a small town newspaper reporter interviews his own 22-year-old sister who is running for Clerk in the small Arkansas town where his family ran an unsuccessful, muckraking weekly newspaper.

The deadpan interview style and responses only augment the loony details in this town, which is not so different from a lot of the towns I have covered. Here’s a taste, but please read the whole thing.

From what I understand, the City Clerk position is currently vacant. The City Treasurer/Water Commission secretary, Kristie Drymon, had been serving in that position. But she quit after our dad filed some complaints of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) violations and she was one of those charged by the county prosecutor.

Yeah, there was an issue with her not being able to keep up with the FOIA information, so she resigned her spot. But they hired an outside person, Sarah Setzer, and she’s doing it now. Ms. Setzer actually asked me the other day if she could pay me to type up the minutes.

Pay you to type up the minutes?!

Yeah, because she has issues typing.

Were the charges against Drymon the only sort of controversy surrounding the city clerk position?

Well, the thing is, as far as anyone knew, a week up to the time that I decided to run, there was no one else running. But a few days later, once the word got out that I was running, turns out there was another person, Marsha Hungate, who got a bunch of signatures from people on the City Council and their family members.

I was actually able to receive a copy of her petition. I guess she had one of the people in the police department, Alana, going around getting signatures for her. All her signatures, she got in the last two days [before they had to be filed with the county clerk].

Doesn’t Hungate have some other connection with the local police department?

Her son was fired for indiscretion from the police department.

Sexual indiscretion, right?

Right, among other things.

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