Thoughts from Dr Joe: This campaign manager could have used an overseer

Now that the La Cañada school board election is behind us, the temporary ban that prevented me from mentioning my wife Kaitzer's name in my column has been lifted. I get the rationale. Mentioning one candidate's name over another could tip the scale one way or the other. But I had so many funny "Kaitzerisms" that typically add a humorous bent to my column, and I would have liked to use them. I had no one to dis, no one to make fun of; subsequently, I was forced to take on a more serious tone. But, praise the Lord and pass the ammunition, I'm now free.

"Kaitzer, what you need is a manager," I proclaimed immediately after she decided to run for reelection to the school board.


If you haven't seen "Rocky," you should. There's a scene when Mickey Goldmill approaches Rocky Balboa and says those very words. Apollo Creed, the heavyweight champ, has given Rocky a shot at the title.

"Like the Bible says, you ain't gonna get a second chance." Mick tells Rocky. "You got a lot of heart, but what you need is management."


You might say I live vicariously through film. So what if I do? Anyway, six weeks before the election, I approached Kaitzer with that very sentiment.

"OK, Joe, you can be my manager," she replied.

"Great, I'll do it from the road," I said.

I was heading out for a four-week adventure. I'd live off the land and make a dent in my sequel to "Girl with the Purple Ribbon." Surprisingly, Kaitzer then says, "Don't worry about it. Help me when you return."

Well, that sure didn't define my notion of a campaign manager. I wanted to be the George Stephanopoulos of Team Kaitzer. She gave me one of those death stares. "You are the team," she replied.

In Rocky,” Mick laments to Rocky Balboa, “I got all this knowledge; I want to give it to you.”

Attempting to get Kaitzer to take my role as manager a bit more seriously, I said something similar. I told her I'm no stranger to the nuances of campaigning. In 1961, I ran against Blaze De Rosa for assistant patrol leader of the Raven patrol in Boy Scout Troop No. 136. Blaze was the vilest kid in the parish. I lost by one vote. If I had management, I might have won.

"Don't forget to order the [campaign yard] signs," Kaitzer said before I left.

By the time I got to Wyoming, I realized I had forgotten. I had more important things on my mind than lawn signs, like trying to survive below freezing temperatures in the Wind River Mountains.

But something told me to forgo exploring the canyons of the Southwest and head for home. I made it back just in time to say goodbye to Kaitzer's mom. She passed on the day of my return. The loss of Arpine Hovasapian was devastating and put everything in perspective. I took a step back, assumed a discreet role and became a fly on the wall.

Amid the family's grieving, Kaitzer never lost sight of the big picture because it is her philosophy to see everything close up. When you do that, you discern what's important and what's not. What was important, especially during the aftermath of the loss of her mother, was the emotional connections that were forged throughout her tenure with family, in the community and during a myriad of circumstances.

For Kaitzer, the election was just another aspect of everyday life, and with the passing of her mother, I realized that regardless of circumstance it becomes essential to keep life in perspective.

Maybe it wasn't important that I'd be the manager after all. Regardless, I was relegated to deliver lawn signs, many of which remained in my truck for more than a week because there wasn't a manager to remind me to deliver them.

JOE PUGLIA is a practicing counselor, a retired professor of education and a former officer in the Marines. Reach him at Visit his website at