Picking the right candidate to represent us post-Ludye Wallace is so very important and I did not want to rush into a decision for fear of a repeat Council District 19 performance of the last few years.
Deciding between 3 of the 5 candidates who are running has been difficult. I have been torn between the idea of voting for Erica Gilmore, Freda Player, and David Shaw. They are all strong candidates with outstanding ideas for District 19 and for the North End; as Germantown developer Skip Lawrence put it the other night at the area candidates forum, we would be lucky to have any one of them representing us. Each has made special efforts to reach out to Salemtown and they have attended our association meetings and sat with us on our porches and talked about their ideas.
After the candidates forum I was able to narrow the field to 2: Ms. Gilmore and Ms. Player, both of whom distinguished themselves strongly from the rest of the pack. Ms. Gilmore in particular showed that she is a very capable public speaker who can connect with her audience from the podium.
But I am not allowed to vote for both, and since I must choose one, I have decided to vote for Freda Player, and to encourage others likewise. What sets her apart is that she is able to communicate to me that she sees the specific problems we have at the street level: our ugly highway interchanges, the sight and odor pollution around the Central Wastewater Treatment Plant, the diamond-in-the-rough that 100-year-old Morgan Park is.
Ms. Player also hit the ground running over the last few months: she consulted some Metro Departments to see what options the person sitting in the District 19 seat would have. That seems above-and-beyond proactivity on her part. We expect platitudes about education and safety from municipal candidates, but I was taken by surprise by the length to which Ms. Player went to hunt down answers without having even been elected yet.
She strikes me as genuinely hungry to make our community a better place with practical solutions and an energetic will. Whenever I interact with Ms. Player she leaves me with the impression that she will fight the good fight when necessary, even if it is with the strong executive branch.
I realize that I am cutting against some considerable grain in the North End in choosing Ms. Player over Ms. Gilmore, who had campaign signs up and big contributions coming in from these environs early on. But the conventional decisions and established ties of the past few years have not been working for all of us here.
A new vision for our neighborhoods means seeing with new eyes; it means thinking outside of the boxes of inevitability. I have sought and I have thought, and now I believe that the candidate best qualified to defy convention is Freda Player. She has my full and unqualified support.
UPDATE: Salem's Lots seconds that e-motion.