It can sting, but it doesn’t have to define you.
“I certainly sat with baited breath, refreshing my browser, looking for results coming in.”
Leading up to election night, Josh Shackles watched as the votes for him poured in. The democratic candidate put everything he could into his campaign for Missouri state representative, and it had all come down to this.
“Throughout the day, I received so many messages of support from friends, family, people I haven’t heard from in years,” Shackles tells us. “I heard from Republican families, even people that only voted for one democrat. So of course, that always makes someone hopeful that things might go their way.”
By the time all votes were tallied, Shackles found himself trailing his opponent — but he says something else seemed to stick out.
“To be honest, I was blown away at the number of people that supported a democratic candidate here in our area. I ended up with nearly 32% of the vote, that’s nearly 5,000 people, which is an amazing number of people that felt like I was a good representative for them.”
That same night, in Crawford County, Kansas, Republican J.J. Karlinger watched as his campaign for sherriff also fell short — and yet, J.J. still feels it was a success.
“Oh yeah. It didn’t work out in my favor, but it worked out,” said Karlinger. “Two people ran and people had a choice, and there we go. So it worked out exactly how it was supposed to work out. Plenty of faith in the process locally anyway. It worked out great, we got results that night.”
There are more than 500 thousand elected officials in the United States. In last week’s election, tens of thousands of Americans ran for some of those seats, only to wake up on Wednesday morning without a new title.
Yet, on both sides of the aisle, there are ones like Karlinger and Shackles who not only respect the process — they know that you don’t need a new business card to play a role in the town you love.
“The people have to have a voice. That’s the only way we’re represented,” said Karlinger. “That’s the way we each get a chance to have our voices heard.
“It’s in my DNA. I’m always gonna be active, always gonna be part of the community. It started long ago and it’s gonna continue until the day I die.”
Shackles agrees, and still feels a sense of responsibility.
“Anytime you decide to run for a public office, it is going to be a win or lose situation, and everyone who runs has to be prepared for that possibility. Ultimately, the will of the people will always prevail, and it’s important to respect the will of the poeple, and to continue to be a good representative of the people who chose to vote for you even after the election is over. Once the election ends, we’re all Americans, and it’s time to come together.”