Excerpt – Passion, Power, and Privilege

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Screen Shot 2014-02-12 at 8.05.17 AMThe day following the funeral, the campaign was back in full swing. As Kate arrived at the campaign office, she was greeted by dozens of supporters and volunteers

Over her office door hung Shakespeare’s quote from Twelfth Night. “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.” She stood for a brief moment, inspired and awed.

Dan and Stan had pulled together the re-launch of her bid to take over the mayor’s office. As Kate entered the crowded room, she was greeted with cheers as she enthusiastically shouted, “Let’s do this!” The energy grew with a series of toasts that was met with ruckus applause from members of the crowd. The media was in attendance, wildly snapping photos that would be posted online before the morning coffee break.

Kate was especially surprised, and rather delighted, to see the very striking Bradley Taylor in attendance. She made a mental note to ask Stan just how invested the newest resident of Lowden was in the campaign. She approached cautiously, not wanting to interrupt a conversation between Brad and Nigel.

Nigel reached out and greeted her with a kiss on each cheek. “Hey there, kiddo, welcome back.” She was always amused that a man only seven or eight years her senior could refer to her as kiddo.

“Thank you for coming, Nigel, and for rallying the troops,” she said, turning her attention, adding, “Bradley, what a lovely surprise to see you again.”

“I’m delighted to be here, Kate. I am so pleased that someone so bright and full of fresh ideas is challenging the mayor.”

“I’m sure that Brad would be particularly interested in your idea that Lowden can become a smart city,” Nigel said. “Clever girl…smart city,” Nigel added before he slipped away to greet some friends.

“What would make Lowden a smart city, Kate?” Bradley asked, listening intently.

“I think our future growth and development is centered around efficient and intelligent management of investments in human and social capital, efficient transportation, and modern communication infrastructure.”

“How does that work?”

“I’m glad you asked. It is an entirely new way of governance, and it does require genuine citizen involvement and participatory action in the concept. This isn’t an overnight fix. It is a gradual transition. We’ll be ambitious to pull it off in one term of service, but if we’re going to draw in high-value jobs and maintain a high quality of life for our residents…we have to offer them the infrastructure and services that they’re looking for…without drastic changes to their tax burden.” She spoke with her hands, motioning to add emphasis to her point. “Let me ask you,” Kate added. “You work in the high-tech space. What are you and your employees looking for when you select a location?”

“I see what you’re getting at. Employees in the high-tech and software business world operate in a completely different culture. They’re generally younger, the want flexible hours and more autonomy. They’re more sensitive to environmental issues, and”—he paused—“they absolutely insist on state of the art technology and global connectivity. Fast, reliable access to the Internet is a must.”

Kate nodded, now knowing that he could relate to the concept. She studied him intently. “I can’t place the accent. Where are you originally from, Bradley?”

He looked a little surprised. “I have an accent?”

“Just a hint.” She smiled. “Georgia? Florida?”

“Good guess. Georgia. But I’ve worked very hard to eliminate that accent.”

“Don’t try too much harder.” She smiled. “It’s quite charming.”

He flashed his boyish grin. “Nigel tells me you’re a member at the Lowden Country Club, Kate. I’m sure with such a busy schedule, you haven’t time to sit around sipping lemonade.”

Kate laughed at his characterization of the ladies who spent much of their day sitting leisurely in the clubhouse, sipping lemonade until happy hour permitted them switch to martinis. “Oh, I’m there every day for the early morning yoga class,” she responded. She realized how invigorating it was to be smiling again.

He looked around the room, noticing that media was circling for their chance to interview her. “I mustn’t keep you from the crowds, Kate. I do hope I’ll see you at the club sometime soon,” he said, shaking her hand as he gently held her elbow.

Bryan, an experienced reporter from the Observer approached, requesting an interview. Kate was instantly on guard, knowing that the paper had endorsed her competitor’s campaign, and that her comments would be twisted to suit the story they would like to tell. “Good morning, Mrs. Callahan. I’m a little surprised to see you back on the campaign trail so soon.”

She knew his barb was just a beginning. “My personal life is personal, Bryan, and my professional life is professional. I’m able to keep them separate.”

“I can appreciate that, Mrs. Callahan, but I’m sure that the residents of Lowden would understand if you took an extended leave to honor Dwayne’s memory.”

Kate became inwardly irritated as he continued to address her as Mrs. Callahan.  “Is there a question, Bryan or are you just here to chat?”

“How long was your husband involved with Mrs. Bethany Phillips?”

“No comment.”

Bryan fired another question at Kate. “Were you aware of the affair, prior to your husband’s untimely death, Mrs. Callahan?”

Kate held her composure.  “Obviously, I was not.”

“Do you think that Dwayne’s affair had anything to do with your pursuit of the Mayor’s office?”

“I do not,” Kate answered tersely.

“Had you and your husband ever stayed at the Evergreen Inn?”

“I’m not going to say it again, Bryan. This is an election campaign. If you have questions about the business of the city, come and see me. Otherwise, this interview is over.”

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