At a standing-room-only Annapolis Mayoral Forum in Eastport last Wednesday, Mike Pantelides and Gavin Buckley addressed many questions and issues, but the most important thread that ran through all of them was this:
If you are Mayor what are you actually going to get done?
Both candidates are excellent speakers who really know their stuff. Mike has some accomplishments that he can be proud of. Gavin has a smooth folksy humor that serves him well, and his voice carries sincere emotion. Both candidates handled themselves well and had supporters present, though it seemed that Gavin roused much more enthusiasm in the diverse crowd.
As the night evolved, an additional element came into play–caring. Gavin consistently showed genuine care and deep empathy about people. He has more “skin in the game” than Mike, with strong business and social interests in the city, and equally strong family interests. Mike was smooth, even convincing, but lacked emotion and did not bring in his personal and family life as they are connected to the city.
As an example of Gavin’s wry Aussie humor, referring to the consequences of ending after-school middle school athletic programs, he quipped “The Middle School athletic programs after school used to wear the buggers out so they come home tired and go to sleep at night. Now they just come home all charged up and want to play on their Phones!”
Mike took a lot of heat from the crowd for negative campaign literature, especially the one that referred to Gavin as “clowning around.” Though I would like to stay positive, it needs pointing out that even though Mike says he does not agree with some of the deceitful campaign literature issued in the last few weeks, if you elect a Trump supporter, this is the crowd that you will keep in office and empower.
Mike got good response when he spoke clearly about the need for some programs, and both candidates gave positive nods to their opponents in a significant number of areas.
Gavin got the biggest support from the crowd when he talked about the sanctuary cities, which Mike has opposed (and was subjected to boo’s from the crowd for this stance). Gavin said that immigrants are an important part of our community and have made substantial contributions to our well-being, so they deserve to be treated with caring and respect. At the same time, he noted that realism has to come into play so that the City does not become a target for a Trump vendetta.
In the end I think we should ask ourselves these questions:
–Do we want a mechanical and smoothly functioning government that sort of works the way it always has in the past, or do we want something new?
–Do we want a proactive government that is always looking for new ways to improve the lives of its citizens?
–Can we build a political system that will reach out those who are least able to help themselves with a steady and caring hand?
It may sound a little naive to say that what the City needs right now is inspiration, but maybe that is exactly what we need. Time after time on Wednesday evening Gavin demonstrated powerful empathy and ideas that could reshape the future. He admitted to not having all the answers, but promised to ask a lot of questions and seek help from new sources, relying on openness and transparency to get early feedback if one of his proposals is off the mark.
Gavin demonstrated throughout the evening that he has charisma combined with business acumen and a solid commitment to transparency and inclusiveness. This can and will make a difference in city government. His strong belief in an equal chance for everyone, combined with his indomitable spirit and flair for humor could lead to some interesting times in Annapolis if the people see fit to elect him.
John Wells attended the 1968 March on Washington and continues to be active in city and national politics and is engaged in environmental issues. John started the group Annapolis Indivisible.
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