City Council members have more to gain from the success of Neighborhood Watch than the rest of us. If they lead that neighborhood watch effort, that is.
In my city of 11,000 people in 9 political wards, most people can't even name their city council person but if that ward has a neighborhood watch the people of that ward get text messages and emails from their neighborhood watch coordinator every week. Over time, ward members may even think their neighborhood watch leader is their city council person.
Here in my apathetic little town of St. Albans where city council seats have been won with as few as 4 votes, a popular and well-known neighborhood watch coordinator could easily unseat their city council member in the next election unless the city council member and the neighborhood watch coordinator are one in the same.
Neighborhood watch people in my apathetic little town - I've called it an "apathariat" - are divided on the question of whether or not it's appropriate for city council members to lead their wards' neighborhood watch efforts but I say there's no surer way to win re-election or to position oneself for a mayoral run. If I were a city council member I would make sure I was the best known person in the ward.
Nobody has more to gain from a successful neighborhood watch than your city council member - if he or she is leading it. Leading the neighborhood watch is like having a license to stay in constant contact with people in the ward. A good neighborhood watch leader knocks on doors to recruit new members, sends emails and texts to members and makes old-fashioned phone calls to people in the ward. If our Citywide Neighborhood Watch Czaress, Shelly Douglass Ellis, keeps doing what she's doing she'll not only be better known than her ward's council member but she'll have more citywide name recognition than most city council members citywide when our next election year arrives. She'll be perfectly positioned to run for elected office.
Desper Lemon will be ward 7 councilman as long as he wants to be because he shrewdly seized and kept the spotlight, running the ward 7 neighborhood watch as if it's an official part of his job description.
My own council member, Cheryl Thomas, can relax. First, she's already pretty well known in our ward because Cheryl knocked on doors and worked to build a neighborhood watch before me.
Second, I have written many times that Baby Boomers like me should not be running for city offices. I've consistently said that people with no real stake in the future should not be making decisions for those with a stake in the future. My apathetic little town of St. Albans needs to elect more twenty somethings, not more Boomers like me. I've been unswerving about that. When 28-year-old Jason Philabaun was elected to council in the 2nd ward I was full-throated about our apathariat's need more council members from his generation. I believe this to my core. Cheryl Thomas knows I won't run for council but whoever becomes neighborhood watch coordinator after me may not make such a promise.
But other city council members have something to lose if they don't lead the neighborhood watch effort in their wards. Council members who have not anointed themselves both council member and neighborhood watch coordinator could easily lose the next election to neighborhood watch coordinators who get out and knock on doors, make phone calls, send emails and texts and become the best known members of their wards.
Robert Keiffer, Ron Colby, Loretta Griffith and Kevin Pennington, I'm talking to you. I think neighborhood watch coordinator, John Kidd , could beat Loretta Griffith in the 6th ward right now.
Nobody has more to gain from a successful neighborhood watch than a city council person - but only if that council person is leading it.
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