Dr. Manoj

It’s election night and my campaign team of interns, volunteers and family members are huddled around the TV awaiting local election results. They are some 30 people young and old, white, black and Asian, professionals and students.

My daughters cling to Nicole, one of a dozen campaign interns, who recently graduated from St. Mary’s school and is leaving for Georgetown University in just a few weeks. They are anxiously looking at the bar on the bottom of the screen with candidate names and numbers.

In a few hours the months long campaign journey comes to an end. All the days of canvassing and calling, house meetings and public meetings, radio ads and TV commercials, personal mailers and direct mailers all comes down to this moment on one night.

My election distills down to one representative the collective view of 13,000 people who voted out of some 45,000 eligible voters and some 70,000 residents in an East Memphis district—one individual who will make decisions on economic growth, educational progress, health priorities as well as allocate resources for schools and property tax rates.

A few days before, I listened to a National Public Radio story which quoted Vince Lombardi: “Winning isn’t everything, but it’s the only thing.”

Before 10 p.m. the final elections are in. I have lost my first race for public office. I take a deep breath and pull myself together. While deeply disappointed, I am grateful.

The next morning I craft a letter to my supporters, in it I write:

The campaign for the past six months has been a journey. Over this time I have had a chance to meet many new people, learn about our local government and key issues, discover myself and get unconditional love and support from my family and friends.

First the people. Our district is made up of a mosaic of America: White, Black, rich, poor, those who live in broken down homes and those in million dollar homes. Often, I saw that one did not know about the other and yet only lived a few miles apart.

Our local government. To many people’s surprise, I am still optimistic about local government. I believe we can make changes– but we need the right people, with right intentions, with right strategy at the right time – and the luck and opportunity to make it happen. It’s easy to be cynical about politics and say that nothing can be done – but I believe it’s both doable and difficult. In fact, we have no choice but to improve our government.

Issues. The greatest issue for Memphis and Shelby County is economic growth – which can come with educational progress and a strong workforce all of which will lead to better health and quality of life.

As for me, the Campaign was a journey to strive for my passion to find unique ways to bring a change. I discovered I have much more energy and drive than I had ever imagined. As for my family –Sunita, Sapna, Monika, Rishab as well as my parents and parents-in law – their unconditional support throughout the campaign has been the anchor which has allowed me to reach beyond.

As for my friends and supporters – your confidence in me has been paramount.

And for my interns and volunteers who gave life to this campaign – each and every day coming to the campaign office – making calls and knocking on doors – you are awesome.

Again – I cannot thank you enough.

Thank you one and all.

I think back to my campaign team and another Vince Lombardi quote comes to mind: “If every single man on our team knows, when the game’s over, that he played the best ball-game he was capable of, I can’t fault him.” In fact, I would say – I credit each one of my team members for giving their very best and learning from this life experience.