Roughly 17 years ago, former City of Troy Mayor Peter E. Jenkins offered me the opportunity to be “Mayor for a Day,” allowing me to follow him around for an entire day to see what it’s like to be mayor.
I did not go back for a second day.
What I learned from my dearly departed friend is that not many people — myself included, at the time — have any idea just how hard it is to be the mayor of a city like Troy, which holds all of its elected officials to an incredibly high standard. Nobody is mayor from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. — you are expected to be all things to all people, every second of every day.
It’s definitely not for the timid, but two brave souls — Republican candidates Robin Oda and Tom Kendall — have stepped up and will run against one another in the May 7 Republican primary. Unless an independent candidate emerges to run against the primary winner in November, the upcoming primary will essentially decide the next mayor of Troy, as he or she likely will run unopposed in the fall.
In less than two weeks, our city will be electing a mayor — and each and every registered voter in the city limits has a chance to decide whom that person will be.
Just to clear up any confusion: Yes, Kendall and Oda are running against one another in a Republican primary, but that does not preclude any of Troy’s registered voters, regardless of current political party, from requesting a Republican ballot on May 7. If you have been a registered Democrat for 50 years, there is nothing to stop you from walking into your polling place on May 7 and declaring you would like to vote on the Republican ballot. In the next primary election that follows, you may go right back to voting in whichever party primary you choose.
Again, just to be clear: You do not have to preregister to do this. You do not have to fill out any paperwork in advance. You may walk into your polling place on May 7 and require a ballot for whichever affiliated political party you choose.
And for heaven’s sake, you absolutely should vote for Troy’s new mayor, regardless of which political party you may or may not belong to. The new mayor of Troy will have a major impact on the lives of the residents of Troy, and every registered voter should have a say in selecting exactly who that person is.
Not only is it an important decision every voter has to make, but if recent history is any indication, there’s a good chance it will be a lasting decision.
In the past 40 years, Troy has had just three mayors. The late Douglas Campbell served from 1980 to 1991, a 12-year span that made him the longest-tenured mayor in Troy history at the time. Once Campbell retired from the political arena, Jenkins also served a 12-year term from 1992-2003. In 2004, current mayor Michael Beamish was elected and he will finish up his record-setting, 16-year term at the end of this year.
The next person elected mayor — whether it be Oda or Kendall — could be the person who helps steer our city’s future for the next decade or more. That’s something no voter should take lightly. Sure, it’s easy to vote in the presidential election every four years, but the local elections are the ones that will affect our lives on a daily basis.
Regardless of what your political party affiliation may (or may not) be, I can’t possibly encourage your strongly enough to vote for the candidate of your choice on May 7. It is a right each and every one of us have. To waste it by not voting is slap in the face to democracy.
See you at the polls.
Troy’s very own David Fong appears weekly in the Miami Valley Sunday News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong.
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