Kenny Crabb was Mayor of Brazil when we moved here in 1996. He and Phyllis were the first "important" people I met. It always amazed me they remembered who I was. Like many, I was saddened to hear of Phyllis passing. I saw Kenny at Page's last month, and always address him as "Mayor." I see him as an honorable man and deserving of being addressed with respect. Even casual observation indicates anyone who's been mayor of a small town has earned the right to the title "Mayor."
In our 16 years in Brazil, I've know three mayors, Kenny Crabb, Tom Arthur, and Ann Bradshaw. I'd vote for any of them rather than be condemned myself to the job.
For most of my adult life, I've had a particular admiration for mayors of cities of any size, but particularly mayors of small towns. It takes, after all, a certain degree of courage to be a mayor: They are always elected by a minority of the citizenry, answer to the demanding majority, and demeaned most by those who did not vote.
As I wrote in an Opinion piece published by The Brazil Times in July, 2007:
"Perhaps there should be two people for every elective office: One to be the politician, and another to actually do the job. Many of courage have run for election and lost; however well, or badly, they campaigned. Some elected to serve have proved inadequate for their times. Most who serve their community as mayor are, in the opinion of this writer of prose, snapshots in courage."
This week we elect a new man to the servitude of city mayor. This blog has been written, deliberately, before the vote is counted. Who the majority of the minority of voters chooses is not the point. What follows is addressed to the victor (assuming he still deems himself such once taking office):
Dear Mr. Mayor,
Now that you've been elected, you'll have a couple of months to get your act together. And, no, no matter how long you've prepared you will not be as ready as you think. Take heart in what Gen. Eisenhower said before D-Day, 20 minutes of combat is worth two years of preparation.
As one who took the trouble to vote for the candidate of my choice (okay, maybe not for you, but I voted!), allow me to start you off with my personal demands:
#1 Get Real!
Despite what they who did not vote proclaim, you can't do it all. Therefore, I hereby demand you admit it if that problem you're supposed to solve is really a federal or state problem, about which the City of Brazil can do nothing. You're going to have enough to do with what you actually could do; and you won't get all of that done, anyhow. Sometimes it really is, as Freddie Prinze famously said, "not my job."
#2 Can we talk?
In no previous moment of American history has anyone come into public office with more opportunity to stay in touch with the people who did and did not support him or her. Find a way to do e-mail or one of those social media things available.
#3 Don't starting running for re-election just yet.
This observation of many years and towns lends to the opinion that good, well-meaning men who only wish to serve their city will, if tempted by the lure of re-election, turn into POLITICIANS! Thoughts inevitably turn to raising money and collecting "favors." Forget about a next term. Politicians we have in abundance, men of honor a rarer breed.
So, Mr. Mayor, those are my demands. Let's do lunch -- in about four years.
An admiring voter