Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Running for Office?

     What an intriguing day!  Earlier this morning I posted a request on Facebook for feedback from my friends, acquaintances and colleagues regarding my possible run for Greensboro City Council.  They have been so kind as to pledge their support, offer advice on philosophy and even warn of pitfalls from their experiences of participating in campaigns past.  All have been informative, honest and very much appreciated.  With all of the "hoopla" surrounding this year's city council race the time crunch to file coupled with impending family vacation next week leaves a window of about 2 and a half days for me to decide.  It comes down to a few questions; can I win?  Are my views different from the status quo?  Do I offer any different abilities or knowledge that make me unique from the current council?  Am I willing to speak rather than to be conspicuously silent?  Do I have the life experiences to offer the citizens of Greensboro a voice or opinion more in line with all citizens similarities while considering and being considerate of their differences?  Can I get my message out to the electorate?
     Public service was my job for 29 years serving as a Greensboro Police Officer.  To be effective you had to be aware of who the elected officials were, what their positions were, their motivation for those positions and how they pertained to you.  For instance, some issues you simply did not discuss with certain officials.  For that matter you knew even saying more than "good morning" or "hello" to some was a waste of time.  Public servants aren't very public when they are not approachable.  Pinning most of them down in conversation on a particular opinion can be almost impossible unless you find one that is willing to give a different answer to the same question depending on who the audience is.  Most of my readers and friends know that I am not a particular fan of bipartisan politics or the media.  While admittedly "one step right of center" in my views and beliefs I also believe that I have a lot of common ground with those that are "one step left of center" with the differences being in the details.  Extremists right or left do not impress me therefore do not influence me.  Unfortunately the extremist at the moment dominate politics to the point that moderates in both parties remain silent for fear of political reprisal; moderate left from their own party, moderate right from both media and right wing extremists.  My desire to serve is born of a need for a common sense voice not worried about winning the next election to be heard and a disdain for those too weak to say out loud "it's okay to agree with someone else". 
     I have lived in Guilford County all but three of my 56 years on this earth; went to school here, worked here, played here and socialized here.  I know A LOT of people.  But if every person in the city limits of Greensboro that know me or even have heard my name turned out to vote for me on election day it wouldn't even represent 1 percent of the total vote.  1 percent rarely wins and I would hope voter apathy, though a continuous problem in Greensboro, would not sink to that level.  If you know me through athletics you know that I love to have fun.  You also know that there is no fun in losing.  Though I am a self proclaimed "glass half full" guy I am not usually one accused of "half assed effort".  If I don't believe I can win I will not waste the $25 filing fee.  I can print all the signs, shake all the hands, kiss all the babies and show up to all the public forums and even that will not be enough to push my vote total above three incumbent candidates.  All of those are important but the differing views and qualifications have to have assistance in reaching the masses.  Usually one accomplishes this through endorsements and media exposure.  As one of my friends pointed out, you need $50,000, lots of effort and a thick skin to defeat a "media" endorsement in this town.  Media can bury you under scrutiny, fair or unfair, or worse yet simply ignore you.  I believe that there has to be a groundswell created by supporters to assist in getting the word out.  Some of you share my blog after reading and that is certainly one way to gain exposure.  The point is, a new candidate has to have help to defeat names that are already ingrained in the minds of the voters though the voters may have no clue whatsoever as to what the incumbent's record of achievement or lack thereof may be.  Public disgust with current politics could certainly be my intangible if I am able to successfully grab it.  In our current political climate, issues regarding police are a hot button topic.  No one on our current City Council can relate to those issues from both sides of the badge like I can.  No council member can offer insight into police tactics, procedures, department needs, community policing or critical incident response at all, much less with my ability.  No council member has the experience in de-escalating tense situations without causing further conflict or being a "chameleon" in shifting gears depending on "who" you may be addressing or what situation you are in.  None of the current council has worked for the city and understands employee concerns and needs as well as I do.  In recent years, the City Council has had much more say (more than I think they should have) in the day to day operations of our Police and Fire Departments as they have no basic understanding of what it is like and what it takes to do that job.  They have demonstrated this lack of understanding by allowing opportunistic antagonists to have entirely too much affect on decision making and allowing a weak city manager to retain his job.  This council with a very few exceptions has practiced appeasement instead of achievement.  One such case is the voting to support a historical marker that is "historically inaccurate" at best, historically fictitious at worst.  Another is allowing our weak city manager to impose discipline on a police officer who made a lawful arrest, did nothing wrong as proven by the suspects brother's cell phone footage and even cut that suspect a huge break on a felony charge all because Nelson Johnson wasn't happy.  That whole story has only been reported to my knowledge in my blog and I believe the majority of Greensboro citizens would not be happy with the railroading of that officer by the city manager.  There are council persons that were made aware of the truth.  To this date, that officer is still without two days pay just to appease an opportunistic antagonist.  Once again, the little guy that has no ally on HIS City Council suffers in the name of appeasement so the city can avoid being called "bad names".  The thick skin should not be turned in after the election.
     This city deserves better, much better.  Gone are the days of "All American City" signs adorning our city limit markers.  High school students leave for college never to return to work in family businesses as they have in years past.  City council meetings are seemingly dominated by social issues rather than city growth and our news?paper is dominated by the same.  We spend dollar after dollar to find good leadership only to hire someone from inside to occupy the position.  When we get one right such as our Chief of Police, we allow dissenters to spew ridiculous claims with no one willing to take a stand in support; not a simple "we support Chief Scott", but a resounding we support him and here are the FACTS that say we should support him.  We are in at least a little bit of a mess.  If you are ever going to promote harmony, you must be willing to support your decisions as fervently as the dissenters support theirs with no fear of losing the next election or being called out by a news?paper with an agenda; achievement over appeasement!!!
     If there are those reading my blog for the first time I have offered a solution to the preserving of our Civil Rights Museum as well as other opinions and ideas on city related topics in previous articles that I invite you to read.  I am more than willing to state positions and also willing to listen to other ideas.  I do not know all as a lot of Council business is completed behind closed doors; sometimes for a good reason, sometimes for no reason.  It comes down to this; does Greensboro want to continue down the path of status quo or do we need a fresh and different type of voice, experience and background?
     I do not have $50,000 and would not know where to start looking for it.  I would need help, lots of it.  Do I have a message that I believe would resonate with most of the population of Greensboro; I believe so.  Can I mount enough support between now and November to overcome the long odds of incumbency?  Now that's the $50,000 question. 

1 comment:

  1. I know that $50,000 was mentioned as what it costs to run a campaign; but if you think about it, that is roughly $5 per vote. I would love to see a real word of mouth campaign with friends of friends and the Internet utilized. Why advertise with the 41-County coverage of newspapers, radio and TV? Millions of people will see your message who have no options to vote.