The Park Election Office is now housed in two offices and even that amount of space has proven insufficient for its purposes.
“I told the Archons we’re going to have to go digital next year or we’ll have to build our own building,” laughs Gerritt Wezel.
But the PEO head isn’t really in the mood for jokes. Taking a break from sorting through the piles of registration forms that candidates for Park Official Prognosticator of Spring (POPS) have dropped off just this week, Wezel waxes nostalgic about his early days on the job.
“I remember—and it seems not that long ago—when the debates had three or four Animals. One year it was six. And we thought we were overwhelmed then,” he sighs.
Last year, that number swelled to one hundred and forty-five and Wezel estimates that, this year, almost three hundred Animals will stand as candidates for the position. And while Wezel he says he’s happy about the high level of participation, he has some doubts about the seriousness of some of the candidates.
“Just because you can apply, it doesn’t mean that you should,” he says matter-of-factly.
Wezel isn’t the only one who has concerns. Two years ago, he met with the Archons to suggest ways in which they might be able to keep the numbers down and focus on candidate appropriateness. His suggestion that candidates be forced to meet specified qualifications was met with resistance, he says. But even at that time, they acknowledged they would have to find some kind of solution to the problem that had resulted from the 2003 decision to hold elections for the position.
In the meantime, Wezel spends his days sorting and counting and hoping the candidates will be able to whittle down their message to one to two seconds come Friday.
“If not, we’ll be listening to them from dawn to dusk and that’s no way to choose the POPS,” he says.
In case you are thinking about standing as a candidate for Park Official Prognosticator of Spring (POPS), this is what you should know:
JUST THE FACTS
1. You have until noon on November 5 to have your name officially entered as a candidate.
2. The names of all candidates will be released at 2:00 a.m. on November 6.
3. POPS hopefuls are allowed to campaign for votes until 8:00 p.m. on November 6.
4. The all-candidates debate begins at 8:00 p.m. on November 6.
5. Animals are not allowed to campaign on election day, November 7.