Having been completely consumed by the City’s budget nightmare for the last few months, I haven’t been able to spend much time reflecting. It’s an important thing for all of us to do, but this political life has me running in so many directions usually that I don’t get to do it as much as I would like. Reflection gives you perspective and allows you to focus on real priorities without getting lost in the weeds. It gives you strength to take on the next challenge.
This job isn’t an easy one. It taxes your relationships and cuts into your family life. It keeps you up at night. It impacts your health. It saps your energy and spirit. So, why do we put ourselves through it? Why do we endure the criticism and false facts? Why do we put ourselves out there, when there are so many other easier paths we could take?
I can’t speak for others, and every elected official has their own set of reasons, but I can share with you why I do this. I can tell you why I keep going in the face of difficulties. I wish it was more complicated, but it’s not. It’s simply because I believe in this City. I have a vision of what it can be in my mind, and I want to help us get there. I am not going to be so presumptuous to think that I can do it myself. If we get there, it will be because all of us have seen that vision, too. It will be because we have, as a community, decided to make that vision a reality. I want to play my part and help. That’s all. That’s why I do it.
I’ve lived in this City for over thirty years. I’ve seen it change a lot, sometimes for the better, sometimes not. What never changes, though, is the sense of community I feel when I walk its streets. We’re not the biggest city or the flashiest or the hippest. That’s never really been our calling card. This is the “City of Homes” and that has always meant one thing: that each of our families combines to form a bigger family. We can bicker and disagree, just like families do. But, just as likely, we pull together when times are tough and solve difficult problems, just like families do. That sense of “togetherness” never leaves you when you come from Mount Vernon. It’s the same feeling you get when you think about your own family home. That’s the “thing” that makes Mount Vernon special.
Maybe we’re the underdog, but, you know what? Everyone roots for the underdog. Because the thrill of achievement and sense of victory is so much more glorious when it happens. People are rooting for Mount Vernon. You need to know that. When we succeed, we will have an enormous fan base to cheer us on. They see in us what, sometimes, we overlook in ourselves. We have as much talent in these 4.4 square miles as cities ten times as big and we work as hard as anyone. When you mix talent with hard work, you can beat anyone.
Memorial Field is gone. But, we’ll build a new one and make fantastic memories there. The bridges are closed, but we’ll get them open again and re-connect our city. The financial house is a mess, but we’ll get it sorted out and back on track. These things are just temporary obstacles, and each one will be overcome as we charge forward. How do I know this? Because our citizens’ belief in this city has never faltered, has never failed. I know this City has its best days in front of it and not behind it.
In the trenches, with the bullets flying, you’re so busy fighting that sometimes you forget why you were fighting in the first place. When you take a step back, take a deep breath, and pause for a moment of reflection, it all becomes clear again.
I believe in Mount Vernon and its extraordinary future. I believe in its citizens and their incredible capacity to succeed. I never stopped believing in this place. That’s why I fight for them every day.
If you have any thoughts or comments, reach out to me at ADWCMV@gmail.com.