‘GOTTA RUN,’ FROM HENRY HOLT & CO.
By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – It’s not enough for Adrienne Martini to simply run for her seat on the Otsego County Board of Representatives.
She wants you to run for office too.
“If I can do this, anyone can,” she said. “Change has to start locally, and no one knows the local issues like someone who lives here.”
Her third memoir, “Somebody’s Gotta Do It: Why Cursing At The News Won’t Save The Nation, But Your Name On A Local Ballot Can,” will be published on Tuesday, March 3, by Henry Holt & Co.
“I wanted it to be useful and encouraging,” said Martini, a writer and editor at SUNY Oneonta, where her husband Scott Segar is the theatre department’s technical director; the couple has two children. “It took me four months to write the proposal and get an editor interested. They wanted to get it out in the beginning of 2020 to catch the election.”
Martini, a Democrat, was elected in 2017, defeating Republican incumbent Craig Gelbsman for the District 12 seat. “I did what a lot of people did after 2016,” she said. “I realized that nothing was going to change until more people got involved.”
She sought out local Democratic leaders to ask how she could help, but was surprised when they suggested she run. “Rather than drive myself crazy, I did something crazy,” she said.
And she quickly realized that to best represent the people, she needed to understand what they needed.
“I had a woman come up to me at a fundraiser and ask what I thought about broadband,” she said. “I told her I didn’t see it as an issue, and she walked away.
“I realized that the city, where I live, is an outlier. We have two colleges – of course we have broadband – but so much of the county doesn’t, and I realized how important it was. I completely changed my stance on it.”
She also doesn’t shy away from telling readers about the legwork involved, and how campaigns have changed. “They say ‘oh, we’ll do phone calls,’ but everyone has cell phones and those numbers aren’t listed,” she said. “And a lot of times, people aren’t home.”
But with several other newcomers on the ballot, they pooled ideas and resources. “It turned out the stuff I was most uncomfortable with – going door to door to every house – really moved the needle,” she said. “It was rough the first 6,000 times, but on the 6,001, it gets easier.”
And once she was elected, she realized just how important the job was. “It’s just this fire hose of information,” she said. “So many people don’t realize how much government does, and how if it fails, civilization may not be possible. Don’t want rabid raccoons or measles? That’s the county health department. We test wells for contamination. All of it really surprised me.”
What surprised her most, she said, was the county coroner system. “Most people don’t think about what happens to dead bodies,” she said. “But the coroner doesn’t have to have any particular expertise, he just has to go there and get the body, decide if they need an autopsy. You vote for the coroner, and he’s paid by the body.”
The book took just over six months to write. “I made myself a sticker chart,” she said. “I had to write 1,700 words a day to get a sticker. Sometimes I finished at a reasonable time, sometimes it was 10 p.m. at night.”
In early April 2019, she rented a hotel room in North Hampton, N.H., to finish the final draft. “I didn’t want to be distracted,” she said. “Plus there was a great yarn store nearby, so I could reward myself.”