“I guess there’s no such thing as a last interview,” Fourth Ward City Council candidate Jerry Wade said to me at his post-election gathering at House of Chow on April 3.
“Apparently not,” I said with a laugh, as I prepared to ask him several more questions to wrap up the Missourian’s campaign coverage.
The time spent covering Wade and his campaign had become somewhat like episodes of “Columbo,” where the lead character, a famous detective, would always end his interrogation with the phrase “just one more thing.” I soon learned that there is never simply one more thing. And, no, there is never a last interview.
When my editor first gave me the assignment to cover Wade’s campaign, I was apprehensive. I had never covered a political campaign before. I was unsure whether Wade would be receptive to me following him around for the next two months asking questions, attending his campaign rallies and asking others what they thought of him and his decision to run. My doubts, however, were soon put to rest.
made my first phone call to Wade to set up a personal interview to get some background information. From that moment and throughout my coverage of his campaign, he was cooperative and made my job as a reporter relatively easy. He showed up at that first interview at the Cherry Street Artisan with information about his platform and who he is, as well as a CD with head shots. He had several of my questions answered before I had even asked. “Wow,” I thought. “This might not be so bad.”
And, it wasn’t.
At the beginning of his campaign, Wade had told me it would be a challenge for him because he had never run for public office before, and he thought he might have trouble articulating who he is and his position on issues. I can say that over the duration of the campaign, he definitely became more comfortable.
I also found that there is quite a lot that you find out about a person when you watch them campaigning for office. During one candidate forum, Wade was criticized by his opponent Mike Holden about decisions Wade had made on the Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission. As I listened to the candidates’ final statements at the forum, I held my breath to see how Wade would respond. I wondered if he would criticize Holden. He didn’t. He simply said he would never say anything negative about his opponent. That incident and others throughout the campaign made me see Wade as someone who was classy and becoming increasingly confident with running for office.
But, going back to the “never a last interview.” There were times in the campaign when I started to become frustrated. We, the reporters, had certain issues to ask questions about. I had it all planned.
So, I took my long list of questions and issues to the Artisan, sat down with Wade for about 30 minutes to an hour and got everything answered. Or, so I thought. I realized soon after that answering some questions can very easily lead to more questions, especially if candidates’ answers vary greatly. I spent another couple of weeks going back and forth to Wade to have him answer more questions. At one point, I was pretty sure he was becoming frustrated also. He never turned me away, however, and he always answered my questions. For that, I was and am very grateful.
I must say that the greatest joy I got from this assignment came from the published profile and the responses from Wade and his family. The morning the profile ran, I had to call Wade to ask more questions.
He said I did a great job on the story and he wanted to send a copy to his mother.
Whew. I breathed a sigh of relief. I must say that his praise made my day. Having his wife and daughter say that appreciated how I had covered the story was great also.
I did not have a chance to meet his wife, Edge Wade, until the post-election party. I had spoken with her by telephone, but I had never seen her in person. She came up to me and introduced herself. She told me that I had done a great job and that Wade had said I was very professional.
The event that made this all worthwhile was seeing the profile I had written in the scrapbook she had made for her husband. As she went through the book, she pointed out ads, campaign materials and articles that had been written by Missourian and Columbia Daily Tribune reporters.
She came to the Missourian profile, then looked at me. "This," she said, "is the good article."
I couldn’t have been more proud.