Friday, September 23, 2011

Mayor O'Brien steps down for personal reasons

Joe O'Brien has been a good mayor, a friend to many parts of our community, an open door and a breath of fresh air. On the issue I am most involved with - stopping the foreclosures and keeping people in their homes - he has been a friend and supporter. I agree with Clive that "... his decision not to seek re-election as mayor is a blow to the city." I fear that my own being too busy with other struggles and issues - such as making a living - to help with his reelection campaign may in some small way have contributed to his decision.

Clive also writes "Despite his advocacy for those 'living at the margin,' Mr. O’Brien also understood that helping them should not come at the expense of other residents." Joe's own experience with trying to juggle the mayor's seven-days 60-hour-a-week job and a challenging experience with fatherhood on $35k illustrates a deeper truth: lots of us are struggling to get by, struggling with issues of survival and holding our families together. This is not just a problem that is "over there" in Great Brook Valley, not just an immigrant problem or a "minority" problem.

A politics that deals with this, that supports us all, has to include reaching out to all those on the margins of our city. Our struggles are theirs too, and a politics that includes them is one that makes us more powerful, not less.

Joe's genius is that he understands this. Putting him in the Mayor's office was a win for all the regular people of Worcester. His personal decision to step down, discarding the gains of our past efforts, was a defeat for us all, whether he intended that or not. But we should not let our disappointment blind us to our need to keep his voice on the City Council.

That one person's decision to step down could so impact the work and interests of so many highlights the need for a different kind of politics, one that is not about candidates and personalities.
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