Vance High: Independent with poetic license

"Independent runs

Voters who want change today

Keep our city green."

On the political spectrum, indy City Council candidate/haiku writer Vance High counts himself a supporter of the 2002 Democrats for Change platform. So why isn't he running as a Dem?

"I came in late," he admits.

High was galvanized by a high-density development in the works across from his Cleveland Avenue home. But he denies that he's a one-issue candidate. "Not by a long shot," he declares– and responds with another haiku:

"Not a one trick horse

Housing, transportation, costs

Education speak loud."

While High may not be a familiar face on the local political scene, he does keep busy as a swimming teacher, lifeguard, and freelance photographer who caught an impressive shot of the 1997 Hale-Bopp comet from the Rotunda. He also direct markets a health supplement.

"I'm semi-retired," says the former educator, who's taught science at both middle school and college levels. He has a computer– but no Internet access at home.

When High was told he needed only 125 signatures to get on the City Council ballot, the light bulb over his head went off: "I have the time, I have the motivation." And he has the campaign haikus.

High says he's a lot more environmentally concerned than the Democrats who are running. He samples city streams for Streamwatch, and announces that Meadow Creek is polluted, a fact that will affect his previously announced support of the parkway.

"Council died quietly

Worrying about Parkway

When streams spring anew."

When High, a preacher's kid, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 14 years ago, he decided to "stop and smell the roses." He says the disease won't affect his ability to serve on council, but later, when talking about campaigning door to door, he points to his cane and says, "This keeps me from doing as much as I like."

High harbors no illusions about the odds of an independent getting elected ("I'm no Don Quixote"), but he says he is expecting some endorsements.

His campaign strategy? Get as much exposure as possible, and decide how far he wants to go in debt.

"There's never been an independent on Council," says High, (apparently unaware of a UVA professor's successful 1936 quest).

"Why not? I'm as qualified as anyone." Or, as he puts it in another 5-7-5 poem:

"He listens to all

Platform addresses people

Cast support at polls."

Age: 46

What brought you here? The legacy of Mr. Jefferson

What's worst about living here? The distance to the ocean

Favorite hangout? Central Library of the Jefferson Madison Regional Library

Most overrated virtue? My cooking

What would people be surprised to know about you? I was once a tournament-level table tennis player.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I wouldn't prefer dessert before the main course.

What accomplishment are you proudest of? I advocated for several former students who have succeeded beyond their imaginations and my expectations.

What do people find most annoying about you? I never give up– even when it's a lost cause.

Whom do you admire? Nelson Mandela

Favorite book? Catch 22

What subject causes you to rant? People who drive and talk on cell phones

What thrills you about life in the 21st century? Advances in medicine

What creeps you out about life in the 21st century? Advances in medicine

What do you drive? '98 Honda Accord

What's in your car CD/tape player right now? Soundtrack from Rocky

What's your next journey? Reading a poem by Henry Taylor

What's the most trouble you've ever gotten in? While sitting in the front pew of my father's church, his sermon ran late, so after 15 minutes, I started to make a scissors with my hand to tell him he needed to close. He said, "I'll see you after church." I was seven years old.

What do you regret? Not kissing a girl 29 years ago and learning she was thinking the same 29 years later.

Favorite comfort food? Bodo's wheat bagels

What's always in your refrigerator? Bodo's wheat bagels and mustard

Must-see TV? I don't own a TV.

Favorite cartoon? Roadrunner and Wiley Coyote

Describe a perfect day. I survived Hodgkin's Disease 30 years ago, so every day is a perfect day.

Walter Mitty fantasy? Winning the Tour de France

Who'd play you in the movie? Lance Armstrong

Most embarrassing moment? Realizing I had forgotten the champagne for the toast at my wedding reception

Best advice you ever got? Enjoy what you enjoy doing, and the rest will take care of itself. Carpe diem!

Favorite bumper sticker? A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.

Vance High