October 14, 2004
Tifton-- A lot of people want campaign finance reform where more of a candidate's money would come from voters instead of special interest groups.
But campaign costs a lot of money with candidates getting as much as they can wherever they can get financial support.
In Tifton, a candidate's friends tried something different, using an effective, grass roots fundraising method that some other politicians may not have thought of.
No better example of the American way exists than a yard sale. "You know, silver is in, anyway. Got to get all the silver you can," says a yard sale shopper.
"I've been to five already," says Lynn Camp who usually hits the sales on Saturday mornings. A yard sale is a simple way to bring buyers and sellers together for a new purpose-- to help fund a political campaign.
"Look at these. They are gorgeous," says another shopper holding jewelry.
Alice Archie came up with the idea of merging yard sales with campaign fund raising to help finance her sister's run for Tift County Probate judge, becoming a political guardian angel. "I think we're doing really good today," says Alice who organizes the sales, getting up way before dawn to have time to display the items.
Even then, shoppers came with their flashlights to get a first look at the bargains. Whoever wrote the book on funding campaigns probably didn't think to include a section about using yard sales. "That's a good author. Did you know it? She's a good one," says a shopper to her daughter as they looked through a box of paperback books.
Friends donated the items for sale, "These are much better than going and paying four or five dollars," said the book shopper. Little by little, "OK, $5.50," says Alice to a customer, the money slowly increased.
The first yard sale was quite successful, raising $350. At day's end of their second sale, they had collected another $250. "Thank you. I appreciate it," says Alice to a customer who bought several figurines.
Two-hundred-fifty dollars may not be much money to some candidates who could easily make one telephone call and get more, but it could make the difference between winning or losing the probate judge's election.
"Signs. Purchasing flyers, purchasing cards. Things that will be useful as far as getting me out to the public and for them to see me," says Ella Pettiford who wants the office.
How do shoppers feel about indirectly helping a politician? "I think it's great. I think it is for a good cause," says Lynn Camp before leaving the sale.
Since two yard sales raised $600, the group intends to have another one. "Sometime before November, the November elections," says Alice Archie.
An instant win-win arrangement, uncommon in political campaigning where a person's unwanted items become a politician's treasure. "Bye, bye," says the lady who bought several paperback books as she left.
WALB News 10 contacted Suzanne Carter Johnson, the other candidate for probate judge, who declined comment on using yard sales to help fund a campaign.
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