It was exactly a year ago today that I lost an election. I could feel it happening. My friends Larry Martin and Mike Blumenfeld and my wife Dianne and I had spent four days in a nonstop race around the city. We stopped at coffee shops, bars, bowling allies, all kinds of community events, senior lunch programs, and so on.
At every stop, I encountered lots of people who were still undecided, even on Election Day itself. That's always bad news for an incumbent, because people know you, and if they're undecided it means they're looking for something else. It wasn't hostile. It was more like dating somebody for eight years and then hearing that they would like to remain friends. You sort of get the picture.
It has been an interesting year out of office and not all bad. In fact, right now I write this from Hamilton, Ontario, where I just finished giving a speech on our pro-bicycle policies in Madison and my biking experiences from other cities. I firmly believe that building a great bicycle city is building a great city, period. So, I'm a bit of a bike evangelist these days, and I enjoy preaching the good word.
I've also been working on the redevelopment of the Greenbush neighborhood under a contract with the hospitals and the university, I'm doing some teaching at the UW, and I serve on a bunch of nonprofit boards.
I loved being mayor, but I have been able to move on and do interesting things that are extensions of the projects I was working on in my old job. And I'm much healthier. As mayor I never strung together more than a handful of nights with a good night's sleep, my diet was terrible, and there was a little bit of stress.
Today I sleep well, eat healthy, and my wife Dianne and I no longer have to schedule lunches through my assistant.
I'll always be deeply grateful for the eight years I got doing the best job there is and I'd be lying to you if I didn't say that I was heartbroken when I lost. But things move on and so have I.