Admittedly the entire political landscape and game has left nothing but bitterness in the mouth of the Patriots remaining in our country for quite a few years now, yours truly certainly among them. Though the eternal optimist in me can’t help but to keep an eye out for glimmers of hope that may arise to serve in public office from time to time. It’s especially exciting when just such a soul happens to emerge in your hometown and underdog’s her way to the mayor’s office. Namely, newly elected Mayor LaRhonda Patrick. When she showed up on my radar in the recent run off, I was justifiably skeptical because, well, she was running for office period. However the guys and I here at ZENintheCAR also saw that while it may be a long shot for something different in our capitol city to actually happen, something better, we thought it beneficial to reach out and speak to her as you may or may not have seen in our interview which aired (or streamed or whatever) prior to her victory. During our time with her we discovered right out of the gates that she indeed was bringing something new to the table in the International City. That something was transparency and accessibility to local government and time will tell if she continues to deliver on what she thus far most certainly has; however, until those bridges are crossed, we have opted to hold out hope for the best and assume she will. That preservation of hope was certainly with the members of Team Zen when we recently shared in the excitement and celebration at city hall where the inauguration of Mayor LaRhonda Patrick took place.
City hall was filled to the brim with press and residents eager to witness the swearing in of new council members and of course the lady of the hour herself. From our view upstairs, my assistant, Zoepenny, and I were able to watch it all unfold with a bird’s eye view, looking down into the council chamber where LaRhonda Patrick sat in the center seat simply beaming. Very distinct from other politicians we have rubbed shoulders with Mrs. Patrick’s very presence emits humility, kindness and a heart of service to any who come in contact with her. For this reason, seeing her sitting in the mayor’s chair for the first time as we approached the railing was most certainly a sight to see. She did not wear the chair around her with hubris or haughtiness rather a meek and reverent demeanor befitting a soul who vowed to remain a servant of the People for the duration of her employment. Standing not too far away was her husband who stood tall and proud as he too took in this tremendous moment for the people of Warner Robins no doubt, but for him something surely so much more memorable and powerful. What a moment for the two of them it must have been when Mr. Patrick held the Holy Bible for his Bride while she placed her undoubtedly trembling hand upon it to raise her other and swear her oath to defend and preserve the Constitution from enemies both foreign and domestic.
As expected, the entire building thundered with applause when she finished her words, and the deed was done. From the legion of veterans on the first floor to the special guests in the chamber and certainly from the second-floor railing where Zoepenny and I watched history in our town taking place with ridiculous smiles tightening our faces. When the applause finally subsided Mayor Patrick thanked her supporters, mentors and loved ones in her brief, initial address as mayor and concluded it with a phrase she has repeatedly used regarding our community writing our future together. These words are especially specific to the International City where historically the pen of its residents’ fate has not only been in the hands of others but hidden from plane sight for as long as most of us can remember. I think this is the reason there is so much excitement, enthusiasm and support for Mayor Patrick as what she is offering is We the People to finally have a stake in what our own city will become…if we are willing to share the responsibility of writing along with her.
This is a concept that is desperately needed in communities across this nation in an era when most have given up the simple knowledge of the Bill of Rights and the dominant perspective of local politics is merely an echo chamber of national politics. The political machines in Warner Robins are surely guilty of this, as they have insisted for decades on superimposing the issues and viewpoints of communities thousands of miles away from our city limits into our local government as if socialist, radical rioters from Portland are flooding to our city to vote in a mayoral race. Those people don’t even think we have wi-fi here for chrissakes. How collectivist must members of any party be to believe that individuals who were born, raised and live in highly populated cities thousands of miles away in a completely different culture mirror the thoughts, feelings and intentions of individuals born and raised here in Georgia just because people talking to them from boxes or smart devices terrify them into thinking that’s actually the case? When did we forget that the states, counties and cities are still Sovereign unto themselves and are supposed to be ‘United’ in the philosophy of the rule of law structured within the Constitution only? More likely than not it was when we allowed the marvel of our technology to begin doing our thinking for us, I would suppose. Heaven forbid two well placed EMP’s ever go off in this country and no more talking heads can tell us what to think and how to feel about our local government from a skyscraper in New York, right?
This problem of superimposition of the national scene into the local scene is one that Mayor Patrick clearly sees and based on her words and positions thus far she is offering us, the people of this city, a solution at long last. Her solution isn’t a new idea, just one that gets neglected every time a society becomes apathetic in the glory of its previous success. The idea she is dusting off and presenting to us, the solution she obviously sees as the way out of our problem is this: people in public office are not saviors and can do nothing to make our lives better. They are our employees who we hire to serve us and when left unsupervised can make our lives worse. Much worse. Mayor Patrick is doing everything in her ability to relay to the people of our city that she cannot do the job we hired her for if we clap at her inauguration, convince ourselves our bit is done, go home and expect her or city council to wave magic wands and rid our community of its problems or secure its infrastructure for future generations. What she is doing is opening city hall, dusting off the pen that has been hidden from us by party politics and so-called public servants who have occupied her office previously and extending it to us. The reason Mayor LaRhonda Patrick has generated the enthusiasm she has is because she is offering the fulfillment of our long cry of “Power to the People”. Of course, she is not shirking the fact that if the People have the Power, that Power also comes, as we well know, with great responsibility.
As the inauguration began to wind down and everyone began to line up to meet their new mayor and of course snap the obligatory selfie, I glanced over at young Zoepenny who was still looking into the chamber with twinkles in her eyes above a subtle smile just as she released the words “This is so cool” barely above a whisper and intended for no one to hear really. In that instant the true reason this was a historical moment became crystal clear to me. It isn’t really because LaRhonda Patrick is the first this or the first that or the first other thing to become mayor in Warner Robins. Sure, all of the firsts she achieved are important, noteworthy and valuable to discuss, but the real reason this is history is because Mayor Patrick didn’t just become a city employee rather something much, much more important; a symbol. She is a symbol to any underdog who came into this world with the odds stacked against them that with knowledge, dedication, nobility and faith they too can rise and make a difference themselves. Mayors come and go and most without much fanfare from history; however symbols when utilized properly have the power to unite and reshape the world for generations to come and that deserves all the thunderous applause the walls of city hall now contain within its bricks and mortar.
A SONG TO PLAY US OUT…