From School Board to Parks and Rec

So how did I go from running for School Board to a seat on Parks and Rec?

To explain that, I first have to explain that my motive all along has simply been to serve my community. I come from a political family — my dad won public office several times when I was a lad — and so I had a model for what was possible.

Last Spring, word went out that no one had stepped forward to serve on the new School Board, and the deadline for filing a Declaration of Candidacy was then looming. After talking with several neighbors and my family, I decided to put my name forward. At the time, my thoughts were of serving on the Board. I had not yet fully comprehended what it meant to actually run a campaign.

Although I did not win, it was a great experience. I learned so much about local politics, and made many new friends among the community and with our elected officials. I am now on a first name basis with all the new School Board members, much of the City Council, and our State Delegate. It’s a good feeling to be recognized.

I am also pleased with the makeup of the new School Board. Kathy Galvin, Llezelle Dugger, and Collette Blount are all just terrific people and great additions to the Board. Any disappointment I may have felt at not winning was more than tempered by the knowledge that the future of education in our city is in capable hands. But that still left me with a lot of aspiration to contribute personally to the civic discourse. Within days of the election, I applied for a position on the Commission on Children & Families; a School Board member also sits on that Commission, and had I been elected, I would have asked for that seat.

Such appointments are made by the City Council. A few days later, I received a message from Councilor (and soon-to-be Mayor) Dave Norris to let me know that another candidate was selected for the Commission on Children & Families, and then asking if I would be interested in the Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee. I replied that I would be honored, and at the next meeting I received the appointment.

Within a week, I received a letter from Mayor David Brown congratulating me on my appointment. And then … nothing. Come late December, I started to be concerned that I might have missed a meeting, so I checked the City website. Searching for Parks and Recreation, I found two pages: one page said that the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee meets the 2nd Monday of every month at 6:00 p.m. in the Parks & Recreation Conference Room (wherever that is!). Another page said that the Committee meets the 3rd Wednesday of every month at 5:30 p.m. in a “varied location”.

As much as I hated to bother him, on Dec. 24 I sent an email to Dave Norris asking if he could clarify this confusion for me, or at least point me to someone who could. To my surprise, being the day before Christmas, I received a quick and very apologetic response from Dave. He c.c.ed Mike Svetz, the city Director of Parks and Rec. (Actually, his full title is Director of Parks, Recreation, and Golf. I’m not sure why that last distinction has been added. Isn’t golf recreation?).

The very next day, on Christmas, I received an email from Mike Svetz, equally apologetic and offering to meet with me after the new year. Our meeting is next week and I will report on it here. I also heard from Scott Brown, the current chairman of the Committee, and we will also get together soon. As it turns out, the Committee does meet on the third Wednesday. My first order of business will be to correct the website!