Leadership, while chosen mostly by communities of like-minded folks, is always first available when the leader recognizes their opportunity. That can occur very early for the mainly affluent and for those who’ve been able to seize those opportunities early in life. It occurs later for those who recognize voids in honest and ethical leadership, especially in elected offices. It occurs to those who know that we can do better.
For the most part, leaders do not appear out of nowhere. They are trained, constructively criticized, and grown into their positions, no matter how late in life they begin, leaders never appear out of nowhere. People, like former-Mayor Bradley, do not appear out of nowhere. People like Bradley remind us that we can do better.
That better is our new Mayor Barbara Pierson. Ethical beyond a shadow of a doubt and self-bred into enormous qualifications, Pierson comes to us with the leadership that Davenport’s been needing for far too long, a leader who represents all corners of our little city. Just in case you didn’t know, Pierson:
- Served on the Parks & Recreation Committee, Board of Adjustments, and a Canvassing Board until she became Commissioner in early 2017.
- Managed several political campaigns and quite the number of fundraisers.
- Served as a legislative and senatorial aide, a committee clerk, and a legislative analyst, who also filled a vacant legislative seat. (How many people do you know have done that?)
- Assisted in saving the Music & Arts program for a local high school.
- Served as a paralegal for nearly 10 years.
- Managed a statewide campaign leading to a clear win, when two previous attempts failed, and
- Assisted in writing ballot language, which bill later became law.
And that’s just what’s on her résumé. Some of what’s not on her résumé yet are Pierson’s:
- Consistent support of the Jamestown Park public restroom and regular attendance at the Northside’s various events, including their latest Christmas children’s bike give-away.
- Her re-invigoration of the relationship between TheatreWorks Florida and the city with the wonderful Tom Fellows in the wings, who help this group make major financial headway in their latest productions.
- Implementation of her campaign promise to terminate the city’s former lawyer, Kirk Warren, who incited dire fear in the hearts of local volunteers regarding Florida’s Sunshine Laws, and which termination also initiated the termination of Davenport’s city manager, Amy Arrington. (I guess I’d leave this one off my résumé too.)
- Regular communications with Florida’s Governor Rick Scott during and after Hurricane Irma and a full-time volunteer during the post-hurricane food give-away, and
- That she received the second most-cast votes of the city’s 2017 election with 165 votes versus Bradley’s 182. It was Pierson’s first election run during which she knocked out seven-year incumbent Crystal Williams.
The weight of our city’s future unity and prosperity now rests on Mrs. Pierson, sworn in today as our newest Mayor. Long-time resident Byrnn Summerlin was also sworn into Pierson’s vacated commissioner’s seat.
As long as she has our backs and there is every expectation that she will, Davenport owes Barbara Pierson a debt of gratitude for stepping in when the opportunity became available. We must count our lucky stars for having attracted this self-taught leader we are graced to have in our community.