Vote for "a dedicated and accessible Council person"
By Pat Kelley
COLUMBIA, Mo 4/6/15 (Op Ed) -- Even several weeks after I volunteered to become the first president of the newly reorganized Ridgeway Neighborhood Association in 1998, I still woke up every morning hoping it was just a bad dream.
I had never done anything like this before and I had so many questions for which I couldn’t find answers.
Everyone told me to talk to John Clark. No one suggested that I should talk to someone on city of Columbia staff (I had tried that), or someone connected with the University or County extension, or any community outreach program.
Everyone said "talk to John," because John was back then what he is still today: the most knowledgeable, dedicated leader, mentor and citizen for the First Ward.
Years before he ever thought about running for First Ward City Council, John was invested in mentoring new neighborhood associations, in community asset building, in community policing, in local democratic processes which include citizens in decisions about the things that impact our lives.
Malcolm Gladwell wrote in his book Outliers: The Story of Success that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become a successful musician, computer programmer, a hockey player etc. When it comes to First Ward Public policy issues John has probably invested 20,000 hours!
John’s campaign literature isn’t bright, colorful and catchy. He passes out densely worded documents full of facts, goals and vision in which he poses the question, “Why should First Ward residents and stakeholders care about this ‘tedious’ abstract policy stuff?”
John puts “tedious” in quotes because he really thinks this stuff is fascinating. That is why he has spent so much time gaining all the experience that qualifies him as the best candidate to represent us on City Council.
John loves “tedious abstract policy stuff” the way great musicians, writers and dancers love what they do. Whether writing a grant to fund the North Central Columbia NA Vision project that ultimately led to the idea of the North Central Village, shepherding the Chronic Nuisance Property Abatement Ordinance, a community policing strategy drafted by seven neighborhood associations, joining a neighborhood association trash pick-up or participating in a community policing crime walk, John has demonstrated that he loves doing the kind of work that we could expect from a dedicated and accessible councilperson.
At a recent forum a member of the North Central Columbia Neighborhood Association said their neighborhood association had held a very important meeting, but John Clark was the only one of the candidates who attended.
John doesn’t just talk about transparent government. As a candidate, he asked City Staff to make documents available in advance of the council candidate orientation meeting and to invite the public.
John asked for an invitation to First Ward candidates to attend a recent Council retreat since we don’t currently have a council representative. John copies all his email requests to the other candidates too. John spends hours thoughtfully and meticulously answering candidate questionnaires. He writes for clarification of the questions, sometimes even suggests a rewording of the question. His responses are concise, detailed and complete.
At candidate forums John is the only candidate you can be sure will not only be able to answer every question, but will know the history of every problem and have an innovative solution. John is the neighborhood candidate. When John campaigns door to door he picks up trash as he goes.
Mike Martin in his article “The Top Ten Reasons John Clark might make a good – even kickass – First Ward CoMo Councilman" wrote “Clark did more for basic neighborhood health – from cleaning up vacant lots to cutting down on home robberies – than any 10 city administrators.”
Imagine how much he can do for us on City Council!
1007 Grand Ave.
Columbia, MO 65203
Paid election letter. Paid for by Pat Kelley.