First of all, thank you for running for Mayor. Offering yourself to public service is an admirable and sometimes thankless task. People will be expecting you to have answers to hard questions, to be without reproach in your personal life, to listen to all concerns with respect and compassion, and to be a positive force in this city. That is hard, holy work, maybe impossible. So thank you for being willing to try.
We are coming to the end of this election cycle and I am concerned. There is a great deal of dissension, people taking sides and harsh talk. We are mirroring some of what is happening in our nation. And that can only lead to disaster.
So in the coming weeks I will be watching for a candidate who listens. I don’t expect you to have all the answers. I do expect that you will hear my concerns, that you will take me (and by me I mean the residents of this city) seriously. It is stunning, isn’t it, how diverse we are in Youngstown? There are Baptists and Buddhists, old and young. We are a multiracial community. There are people with tremendous resources and people with almost nothing. I am looking for the candidate that listens to all of these people, because they are all my neighbors.
It will be the work of the next Mayor, as it always is, to make sure all of us neighbors are treated equally, that justice is available to all of us. It will be the work of the next Mayor to continue the incredible gains in economy and activity and spirit that we have witnessed in recent years. And it will be the job of the next Mayor to make sure that all of the people in this city have access to those gains. We are a city of promise, but also extreme poverty. You will need to attend to both of these things to really make a difference.
I admit I am still undecided in my vote, though I will make a choice when the time comes. And I realize that I might lose, that my candidate might not be victorious. And so I pledge to the one of you who wins, that I will shake off my potential disappointment and support you. Because we live in a democracy, that is how we act when an election is finished. We do our best to be informed and passionate, and then we accept the outcome and work to make this city as good as it can possibly be. I will offer you my support, understanding that we will not always agree, but we have to get along and get things done.
And I ask you, whoever wins this election to do the same. Because this is not the last vote I will cast. I will be watching. Not to see if you do what I want, supporting my issues. I will be watching for a gracious winner. I will be watching for a Mayor who lets go of the election rhetoric and partisanship, and becomes a leader for all people. I will be watching to see if you can build a community that cares for each other, treats people with respect and gets things done for everyone.
This is a tall order, and civility is no longer the norm in politics. So lead us. Be the example we need. Bring us together. If you do, I will stand by you, work with you, and I will say thank you (because I don’t think you will hear that enough). Again, thank you for being willing to take on these challenges, and good luck to all the candidates.