By Gretchen Wehmhoff
I have a deep appreciation for those who step beyond their comfort zone for public service. Thank you to everyone who put their name forward to serve this unique community. As we conclude our local elections in Skagway, I am reminded of my time knocking on doors during three of my own political campaigns, two for state house district 12 and one for the Anchorage Assembly. I didn’t win any of them, but I remember how hard I worked to lose. In the process, I have a number of moments that make me smile and recall the oddities of campaigning in Alaska.
Knocking on doors during a political campaign takes an ironically eerie turn in October. A month away from election day, with more visible politicians on the prowl, it seems appropriate that scary images and ghastly creatures crawl from the doorsteps. Literally. During my 2016 campaign we pulled into a Wasilla area driveway with a “beware of dog” sign. Under it a sign read, “We don’t need no stinkin’ security system.”
Not easily deterred, I stepped out of the car with my campaign manager, Cheryl, and approached the house. Mary Ellen, our volunteer driver, stayed in the car, engine running.
Hidden from the lonely street, a graveyard with at least 15 tombstones filled the yard. I joked that past political hopefuls had met their match here. Next to one tombstone a creature straight out of The Walking Dead crawled towards the driveway. A single green arm lay on the sidewalk, blood staining the clothing of the unfortunate victim. An exposed casket protruded from the ground beneath the closest headstone with a ghastly skeleton reaching through. The skull’s gaze followed us as we walked up the sidewalk. Under the steps, another zombie tried to crawl from beneath the porch.
We cautiously rang the seasonal doorbell. Chimes from Dracula sounded through the house. We waited. There was no answer. Cheryl headed back to the car as I placed my magnet and door hanger on the screen door. For kicks, I set a magnet in the teeth of the skeleton and turned towards the car when the sound of the screen door opening caused me to pivot.
A large, intimidating black dog, his head reaching easily to my shoulders, snarling and gasping, bounded out of the house followed by another barking and growling dog. I stopped, held up my hands and let them sniff me, anticipating my first dog bite. The larger beast immediately slimed me with excessive drool while the woman who lived there came to the door, her cell phone to her head and her son at her side. She watched me try to pull away from the dog.
More things came to life. The green arm dragged itself towards me, skinny, bloody fingers scraping the sidewalk. I raised my arm, unsuccessfully, to block the large canine leaning in to slime my face. I had only one option. My best recourse was obvious. I wiped the slime from my face and smiled.
“Hi, I’m Gretchen Wehmhoff and I’m running for state house. Nice Yard.”