Know What You Bring to the Table

"What do you have to offer that is different than your opponent?"

Before I go into more of the "how-to-run-for-office" paperwork type stuff, I want to share some of the personal stuff.  Yesterday I ran into someone while taking a walk at the YMCA. He was aware that I was running for city council and asked how the campaign was going.  Then he asked, "What do you have to offer that is different than your opponent?"  If  you run for office you will be asked this often, and you should be.  You should also know the answer to that question.  I responded, "A cooler head." 

To be honest, I think the incumbent is an awesome community activist. He is great at bringing the troubles we face to light.  I'm running because I think that, right now, that is not enough.  I am a former inner-city public high school teacher who is trained in conflict resolution and team-based intervention.  In less educational jargon, I know how to deescalate flaring tempers instead of creating them, and I know how to not just identify problems, but identify the correct people, organizations, or resources to help solve them. As the gentleman mentioned to me yesterday, we know what's wrong, but we are just stagnate. I think I'm one of the pieces that can help move the game forward.

So, this is an example of what I mean.  I saw on on social media where Mr. Lowe was complaining about the state of Pennsylvania Avenue.  This is a block close to me that I sometimes use when going to work.  And he is correct, it is a pretty bumpy ride.  He went on to essentially blame our current administration for it not being fixed by encouraging people to vote for the opposition.

I wanted to know more, so I went to the office of Public Works.  Guess what, it is a government office and all materials in it are public record.  Anyone of us can request to see what road work is going to be done, when, and why.  The Director of Public Works, Howard Elstro, is a serious man, but willing to answer questions.  He explained to me that the city does not have the means to pave alleys. And the before mentioned street may have the word Avenue at the end, but trust me, it is a one lane alley, with only one property front facing it.  Even if it were a street, it would be behind 18 other streets in the city that support two-lane traffic and have more travelers, that also cannot be paved right now due to available funds.  The solution (that Mr. Lowe is aware of) is that each parcel owner on that block could chip in to have the alley paved.  The city would do the work, cover half the cost, leaving a grand total of $5,000 to be paid by the parcel owners.  They could even split that into payments of $62.00 per parcel owner per year for six years. Sixty-two dollars a year.  That's all. And only one parcel owner was willing to do it.  That is why it is not paved.  I'm good at grant writing and fundraising.  If the members of that block are truly interested in repairs and not complaints, let me know. We can find you the funds.

So that is what I bring to the table.  A willingness and ability to learn ALL of the facts and take commonsense action. My advice if you should choose to run for office, don't do it to satisfy your ego.  Do it because you honestly think you have skills that can help your community.

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