.70¢ per vote



From Oxford American:

The boredom of Little Rock nights can be difficult to escape, so when Rod Bryan, a record-store owner and musician of local renown, announced last July that he’d be spinning records at a watering hole called the Oyster Bar, people took notice. Bryan’s taste in rare soul, country, and rock & roll was reason enough to come out, but that night’s party also had historical significance: Having collected the ten thousand signatures required by Arkansas’ Secretary of State, Bryan’s run for governor, long in the works, had cleared its first major hurdle: He had just become the first independent candidate to get on the ballot in over sixty years.

The Oyster Bar is a social anchor of the Stift Station neighborhood, a hilly, labyrinthine district hidden on a downward slope from the main drag, where clustered one-story houses shelter the not-quite upwardly mobile. Bryan is among this class of Little Rockers. At thirty-seven, he has worked a range of jobs that includes waiter, Six Flags security guard, grant writer, and voiceover talent. In 2001, as a “knee-jerk reaction” to being unemployed, he opened his own small business, Anthro-Pop Records, a new-and-used record store that during busy hours provided a camaraderie for which he’s naturally suited. Bryan is a talker, and the store was a great place to talk—about the specs of the stereo equipment marooned in the corner, about the merits of each Joe Tex record in his collection, about the album that was playing when his second child was born (SPIRIT OF EDEN by Talk Talk), and about politics.

Several crates of Anthro-Pop LPs had been hauled over earlier that afternoon and were now scattered across the stage. Bryan, who stands at an imposing six-foot-three, moved swiftly among them looking for the next song to cue up. To the right of the stage leaned his bicycle, which had been modified with a small rear platform and a pair of oversized saddlebags for good measure. To collect signatures for the ballot, Bryan had ridden it for two punishing months across the state. The toll of this early stage—the physical bumps and bruises as well as the strain of being away from his family—had been a huge drain on his energy. “I was halfway hoping I didn’t have enough signatures. The way I figured, if I kept hoping I was gonna get it and it didn’t happen, I’d be depressed for days.” Bryan had gathered almost twelve thousand signatures in all, but, once those that had been given by unregistered voters were subtracted, the margin of certification was razor thin—just fifty-two more than he needed.

“Party of One”, John C. Williams, Oxford American