"Tight Race" Has Special Meaning For Long Beach Alderman

Mark Lishen narrowly won his own campaign. Now, Long Beach's newest alderman says the experience has convinced him that just a few ballots could determine the outcome of another close election.

Lishen says he had a strategy for capturing the ward five alderman seat.

"I had so many people tell me that the way to a successful campaign was to physically go door to door," he said.

Then came election day. After watching the lead swing back and forth all night, Lishen says both he and his opponent were surprised by the final vote count.

"We thought that one of us was going to win by 50, 60, 70 votes, but certainly not by five votes," he said. "When the affidavit votes were counted the following day she picked up three more and the final tally was I won by two votes."

As the nation prepares to choose between President George W. Bush and Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, Lishen reminds people how slim the victory was in the last race for the White House.

"In the case of a presidential election where the votes may decide the outcome of the electoral college, it is very critical that everyone get out and vote because as you can tell from my election that every vote does in fact count."

These days Lishen is getting used to the rewards and the challenges of public office. He also thinks of how different the outcome would have been had three people decided they were too busy to make it to the poll that day.

"It could have come down to your best friend, to a neighbor, or to your relatives. You need to stress the importance as a candidate that every vote does count and I think it's part of our responsibility to help spread that word and to encourage people to go do just that."

The stressful campaign and election night hasn't deterred Mark Lishen from politics. He's planning on running for alderman again in July of 2005 and has earned the nickname "Landslide Lishen" from his friends.