A City of Hope

May 19

Our city of Jacksonville has made history by electing Alvin Brown to be our next Mayor. This should fill us up with civic pride and energize us. Jacksonville is our home and we love living here. All of us deserve a Mayor who can lead us to greater economic prosperity and social cohesion. The city must now unite behind Alvin Brown’s leadership and help him achieve the goals he set out to make Jacksonville a better city.

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting Alvin Brown, when Dr. Yazan Khatib hosted a fundraiser for Alvin. Several members of the American Muslim community attended the event. We all came away with the impression that Alvin was the most qualified and the most visionary candidate to lead Jacksonville at this time. We need a Mayor who understands that our best way forward is to increase economic and social opportunities for all. We need a Mayor who will unite the city. Alvin campaigned on that message and we in the city rallied behind him.

Listening to First Coast Connect this morning and reading the blogs on Florida Times Union, it is quite evident that our city is buzzing with excitement and this can only give all of us hope. In these difficult economic times, the positivity of Alvin Brown’s message can only help us. His campaign was uniting and uplifting.

Now comes the tough part of governing. I can only hope that our city’s first African American mayor will not suffer the kind of personal attacks that our nation’s first African American President is still suffering. We can have legitimate differences of opinions about policy. But the type of incivility that has come to characterize our national political discourse should never happen here in Jacksonville. If it does, we will all lose.

To his great credit, Mike Hogan ran a positive campaign. I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Hogan. He is a decent family man. While we disagreed over his policy choices we remained cordial in our conversations. I was very pleased to read Mr. Hogan’s appeal to his followers to unite behind our new Mayor.

Time and time again, the orderly process that characterizes American democracy is beautiful to behold. This American value of gracious in defeat but humble in victory is something I had to learn after arriving in America to do my graduate studies over two decades ago. American democracy remains a beacon of hope to the world. But we must practice it as best we can at home to keep inspiring people around the world.

Today is a proud day for Jacksonville. Let us celebrate. And then let us all get back to work.

Democracy is not merely the process of voting and elections. Democracy requires constant civic engagement and works best when it is also the rule of law that protects the interests of all and provides equal opportunity for all. “The motivating force of the theory of a Democratic way of life is still a belief that as individuals we live cooperatively, and, to the best of our ability, serve the community in which we live,” Eleanor Roosevelt.

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