After weeks of campaigning in the recent Belfast election for mayor, I was defeated by the incumbent Mayor Walter Ash. For me it was not a defeat but a real great experience to meet hundreds of people in Belfast who I probably would have not had the occasion or taken the time to seek out were it not for the run for this office.

My goals during the race were to meet with the city manager, city councilors, department heads and many of the business people throughout our city. I did just that and learned so much about the vast array of responsibilities that are shared to keep this city operating.

The time devoted to this city by the mayor and councilors for a mere pittance are immeasurable. These positions show a dedication to the city that must be recognized whether or not one agrees with the position these dedicated citizens take on an issue. The school district, without a doubt, is the most complicated and unquestionably most stressful issue, and my meeting with Superintendent Bruce Mailloux just reinforced my thoughts on the complexity of his job.

This saga all began when I decided to throw my hat into the ring for mayor. Getting signs printed, printing fliers, a website, Facebook, constantly thinking of ways to keep my name in the media. Mind you, I had no prior experience in running for a public office. Thanks go out to my friend, Phil Crosby, who not only installed signs but gave me careful guidance as to where they should be placed. Phil has a great deal of experience campaigning in past years for his daughter, Jayne Crosby Giles, our former state representative.

After watching the mudslinging elections on the national level, I was determined not to let that type of rhetoric have any place in my campaign. Knowing it was an uphill battle for me, I put together some semblance of a strategy. After all, I was in a contest with a seasoned politician, a native of Belfast, a nice guy, well-known and liked by many. To top this off, Belfast seems to be in the midst of an economic boom in a time where most communities are struggling. How to find a reason for voters to check the box next to my name was a challenge given these circumstances.

After 38 years in the funeral business, my former occupation, I was accustomed to being out there, attending events, church suppers, local fundraisers, all things that I have really enjoyed throughout my working career. Now add to that the regular City Council meetings, workshops and alike. The campaign seemed to be going well and it appeared that I was getting a fair amount of support throughout the city.

Jump ahead to Election Day. With three polling places, I did my best with the help of my wife to show our presence in all three during the 13 hours the polls were open. Countless voters would extend their hand as I introduced myself to them. Often they would state for which candidate their vote would be cast.

During the election hours, Walter and I could be found repeatedly at the same door greeting the voters. Upon approaching us people would often be stunned that we were cordially standing together or in conversation. I guess just because we were running in opposition people thought perhaps Walter and I should not be so friendly to each other.

The hours at the polls seemed at times shortened by the conversations I was able to have with so many people. It also gave Walter and me a chance to know each other even better.

As the day concluded and results came in, I knew this was not my time to be the new mayor. It was a wonderful experience for me, I have no regrets and I sincerely thank the voters who supported me. Perhaps in a couple years I will consider running again, as for now I reflect on how Walter and I played the game that really made us both winners!