When Columbia Business Times columnist Al Germond told readers it was safe to “ignore” me and Columbia’s other mayoral candidates in favor of two “thoroughbreds” named Wade and McDavid largely because they’ve lived in Columbia for decades, I thought it was a good time to tell CBT readers that Mr. Germond — an outsider made good — is the last person I ever thought I’d accuse of such provincial thinking.
But he’s guilty as charged because as Mr. Germond the successful businessman from New York should know, living in a city for years is hardly sufficient qualification to govern it, guide its destiny or prosper within its borders.
The Columbia my wife, Joan, and I have grown to love is progressive, enlightened and educated enough to realize that people should be judged not by their community of origin but by the power of their ideas and the strength of their character. As I consider the character of the city we’ve chosen to call home, the ideas I have shape the vision I see: a vision of transparency, in which all people are invited and encouraged to participate.
Transparency and participation mean that our citizens should have an opportunity to look at our city charter (local constitution) as it has evolved during the past 60 years to see if it will guide us through the next 60 years, without undo resistance from the so-called “powers that be.”
My work experience has helped shape my understanding of community, especially our abiding need to keep the peace. Prior to working as a sales and marketing manager for Roche Diagnostic Corp., a division of Hoffmann-LaRoche Pharmaceuticals, and after working for the Illinois Department of Corrections, I was a criminal justice administrator for an agency that supervised about 8,000 non-serious offenders within the circuit court of Cook County, Chicago. I developed the budget, coordinated staff training and developed new offices as the agency more than doubled in size and responsibility.
As a young man, I studied to be a priest in the Jesuit community, a Catholic teaching order where I specialized in urban problems in New York City and completed a master’s degree in sociology. I did not ultimately become a priest and left the order in the early 1970s. I also volunteered with the local N.Y.C. police department on youth activities and worked for then U.S. Sen. Jacob Javits (R-NY), for whom I coordinated community and government leaders at the local, state and federal levels to create job-training opportunities for unemployed minorities.
I am running for mayor of Columbia because I want to represent everyone while promoting Columbia as a wonderful place to live, work and enjoy — the place my wife, Joan, and I have grown to love.
As a retired businessperson with extensive community involvement, I know that a vibrant business environment is one foundation of a strong community.
And for a strong community to work, it has to work for everyone.
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