R&I – FS
Adam Headlee enjoys his political memorabilia. Already at age 25, the legislative aide has packed his office in Ohio’s capital with collectible conversation pieces: campaign buttons, historic photographs, a display of founding father bobbleheads.
So when Headlee learned that the state Chamber of Commerce had produced a deck of trading cards featuring the names and faces of every sitting state lawmaker, his collector’s instincts kicked in.
“After I got a couple of members who I knew well to sign their cards, I thought, I wonder how many could I get?” he said. “Could I get 10? Could I get 20? Could I get 30?”
Ultimately, Headlee landed the John Hancocks of all 99 members of the Ohio House. He was pleasantly surprised that lawmakers of both parties played along and seemed to enjoy it.
“Silly as it may sound, there’s a very subtle lesson of unity underlying all this, because everybody thought their trading card was cool,” he said. “Starting off, I thought, statistically speaking, at least one of the 99 is going to tell me to go pound salt and won’t sign their card. But, the closer I got, everybody was a good sport about it.”
One lawmaker, a Democrat, asked to sign in blue. Some dated their cards. One lawmaker, a minister, added a “God Bless You.” Another, hoping to confound historians, scribbled “Drink more Scotch.” Rep. Latyna Humphrey, a newly seated Columbus Democrat, happily signed her district’s blank card, just above the “To Be Determined.”
Finally, on the Thursday before lawmakers broke for the holidays, Headlee got his 99th signature. It was from House Democratic Leader Emilia Sykes, whose frenetic schedule during the past two months had included a role in the high-profile, deadline-driven redistricting process.
“She’s obviously very busy,” he said. “I was thinking maybe that’s a bridge too far, I might not get the chance.”
But a member who had already signed their own card briefed Sykes on Headlee’s project and arranged for them to meet.
As she signed with a gracious smile, Headlee said it bolstered his hopes for the future of politics in these fractious days. “That somebody cared enough about my little project to do that, I was very grateful.”