A well organized campaign will seek to identify the opinion-makers in each neighborhood. These are the folks on your street who have a reputation for "knowing what is going on" in the city or district, and whose opinion others trust. When walking the dog, or at a neighborhood meeting, you ask them, "hey, what is the story with so-and-so," or, "hey, who do you like in this election." My dad is a lawyer, so I ask him about who to vote for when it comes to the Clerk of the Superior Court. My friends ask me who he's voting for, too. We simply don't know enough, so we defer to someone we trust.
I think firefighters serve in a similar capacity. They may not be quite the same as the neighbor who goes to all the NPU meetings, but they have two important qualifiers:
- They work for the city, so it is assumed they know what is "really" going on and what the city "needs"
- They have had an adversarial relationship with the mayor and council over the years.
The firefighters' support was also very important in Steve Brodie's near upset of Ann Fauver in 2005. I wasn't as plugged in to local politics at the time, but I heard about Brodie's campaign from my parents. They had decided to vote for him because a friend up the street, who was a firefighter, told them about Brodie. And that is how they told me about him. "So-and-so, who is a firefighter and knows a lot about what is going on, said this guy Brodie is who we should vote for." I ended up voting for Brodie for a few reasons, but I'm pretty sure a positive endorsement/introduction was important.
The longer she campaigns, the more viable I think Mary Norwood is. I still don't think she'd be a good mayor, but I think she is a very strong campaigner.