Dropping out of the race would show real leadership

By Leonard Ford
Columnist, The Light

It is no secret that I’ve been hoping and praying that at least one or more of the four blacks vying for the mayor’s seat in the City of Alexandria would gracefully drop out of the race.

So far it’s only a wish, but I remain hopeful that Von Jennings, Roosevelt Johnson, the Rev. Joseph Franklin or Jay Johnson would see the light for the good of Alexandria’s mankind.

It appears my hopes may be dwindling as time is almost near and each candidate is putting out signs, circulating printed materials, participating in forums, launching Web sites and staging fundraisers. I fear no one will throw in the towel and call it quits.

However, just in case one or two heeds my call in order to give the best qualified candidate among them a chance to defeat Jacques Roy, I have developed the perfect statement to use in announcing to the public reasons for getting out of the race.

Here is that statement:

“After much thoughtful consideration and discussion with my family, friends, and supporters, I am here today to tell you that I have officially withdrawn my candidacy for mayor of Alexandria, but I have done so with great regret.  As much as I would like to lead the progress of Alexandria over the next four years, and as I strongly as I believe  I have the qualifications, experience, vision, and  ideas to govern this city, it is apparent  with three other black candidates in the race that I have little or no chance of  being elected mayor. I’ve come to realize that I will not be able to get, especially with the others (blacks) in this race, a majority of black votes to win outright or even reach a runoff if one is needed. This is a hard fact that I couldn’t just ignore. As much as I want Alexandria to have a black mayor, and as much as I want to be that black mayor, I can honestly say here and now that both will not happen in this current race due to four of us being on the ballot. I know that electing someone as mayor should be based upon their qualifications and experience rather than their skin color, but there is nothing wrong with wishing that a city with almost a 52 percent black population  have a black mayor.”

“Making this decision was not an easy one, but it was the right thing for me to do at this time.  Doing so does not make me weak, does not mean that I didn’t have faith in myself to win, and doesn’t mean that I didn’t have faith in you to vote for me. I may be dropping out of this race, but I plan to make it my business over these next four years to be in the know about all aspects of city business, and to do what I can for the betterment of Alexandria. Thank you.”

Of course, I’m being facetious, but having four black candidates in this mayoral race is nothing to joke about. It is a serious matter. It is serious enough that we all are going to have to look deep inside of us, do some soul searching, and decide on (not based on our friendship, church loyalty, family connections, or any other mutual relationship that we may have with each of the four black candidates) one specific black candidate who we know is the best qualified and experienced among the four, and who we know has the personality to get along with everyone both black and white.

It’s time for us to stop being the “people who can’t get their act together” when it comes to electing a mayor of Alexandria.  We weren’t together in 2006,  and we’re damn sure  not together now.  It’s the same old same old, and by now, you think we would have gotten a little smarter in figuring out that four black people running for the same office would split the black vote.

We can’t be this ignorant in the 21st century, can we? From the looks of things, we are and will continue to be until black people get it through their thick heads that we are only robbing ourselves the opportunity of ever having a black mayor.

Yes, I would like for this mayoral campaign to produce a black mayor, but most importantly than that, I implore each and every one of you to get out on Election Day and vote. Please, please, get out and do your civic duty on Oct.  2, 2010.

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