Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tom Henry.

A link to my column in the News Sentinel:


Please follow the link to support that effort. Below is the original piece. 

Heres the thing about politics. I’ll never feel like I have all the information I need to make an informed decision. Regardless of the 8000 websites out there, despite my die hard politico friends who follow these things with eagle eyes, I always feel that I’m going with my gut.

When it comes to local politics, you can throw in at least a handful of variables. For many years, I voted based on pretty basic criteria: if you were a democrat: I voted for you. If you were female: I voted for you. If you didn’t litter my earth with political signs, I voted for you. And if you seemed like someone I could be neighbors with, well, I’d vote for you.

Some years, I didn’t vote at all. I didn’t even really know what I wanted out of my Mayor to be honest. I remember as a kid, Harvester pulled out of FW and this caused quite the  uproar from the lower middle class adults in my midst.  I remember downtown fort waynes death. I handn’t heard the word urban sprawl until I was in my 30’s and by then it was too late, it had already happened to our town. It wasn’t until I got a little older that I started to understand that the Mayors job was to help our city grow, and what the long term affects can be. That being said, at the ripe age of 41 my method for picking who I’m voting for hasn’t changed all that much, but what has changed is I know a lot more people now. And people, this is a pretty small town.

A few years ago you might remember this little race between Matt Kelty and Tom Henry. This was the first Mayoral race where I knew both parties, to a certain extent personally. I was friends with someone who literally WAS Matt Keltys neighbor. And to their telling, he was, well, not a friendly neighbor. I had met him a few times socially, and he was charming and nice and we engaged in friendly political banter. In all, he came off as not a bad guy, but my gut said, “NO WAY”.

Then Tom Henry stepped into the ring. And this is where it got interesting, because I used to clean Tom Henry’s toilet. And you can’t clean someone’s toilet without getting to know a little something about that person.

A few years prior to this race, I was a stay at home mom who had just left her husband of 11 years and didn’t have a job. Or degree. But I knew how to clean so I started cleaning houses to keep food on the table. Somehow, through a friend of a friend, Cindy Henry hired me to come in twice a month and clean her home. You learn a lot about people when you clean their home. Any house keeper will tell you, there aren’t many secrets you can keep. And I have to be honest, I fell a little in love with the Henrys. Now, they are any other typical family. At the time both of their children were still living at home and they had their typical struggles with teens. But there was a love in that family you could feel when you walked in the door. In the little notes left to each other, reminders of things to do, or places gone to.

As a housekeeper, you come to appreciate a good hard working family. They pick up before you come clean their home. Sure, they may leave a bit of detritus of family life. But they don’t hog out the place and leave you a complete wreck to deal with.  Cindy always left me a nice note, and never forgot to leave my check. The Henry’s knew my situation and Cindy offered me an additional job at the restaurant, even though I could only work every other weekend. And I’ll be honest, I was not good. Every night after my shift, Tom would walk me out to my car, making sure I was safe before I left for the night. I remember at the time thinking what a nice thing that was. I had worked for the Henry’s for about 5 months when Christmas came. This was my first Christmas as a single parent and it was a very difficult and sad time for me. I was also really struggling financially. The day prior to the holidays when I came to clean, Tom and Cindy had left me a present. And it was a nice present. Something they went out and picked out just for me. I literally sat on their living-room floor in front of their tree and wept. Touched by their thoughtfulness.

I eventually had to get full time employment, my wealthy families were too erratic both in scheduling and pay. I simply had to have a consistent flow of income. That was the last I saw of the Henry’s.

So when the election came around it was a no brainer for me to vote for Tom. I saw how he treated his family. I knew how he treated those who worked for him. He was someone I wanted to be neighbors with.

So here we are again, gearing up for another election. And a lot of my friends are voting for Paula Hughes. I think a lot of them are voting for her because she is a woman. I think some of them are voting for her because shes a republican. Some of them are voting for her because they would like to be her neighbor.

But I’m not. I’m pretty happy with what Mayor Henry has done these last two years.  I see room for improvement and I do have some gripes. The money paid to out of town companies when that work should go to local companies, I have a huge issue with that. Websites, video production, this whole social media fiasco . . . I question where some of our dollars are going. I really, really hope those issues get addressed. I hope he learned some things in the first two years that will help him move forward efficiently and productively.

I don’t like the way the current campaign is being conducted; I’d run it differently. I hate stooping to the other sides level in the mud slinging.  Finally, please, please candidates, please quit sending me 18 fliers a week. I got the first one. I’m good.

At the end of the day, he’s a good guy. Who loves this town and loves the people in it.  I know he thinks about, and tries to help the people who live like I do. Who appreciates working hard, and appreciates hard workers.  I know its genuine. Because the true character of a person shines, when no one is really watching.  And that I’ve seen for myself.

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