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A simple gesture

11.14.2007 by André Natta · → Leave a comment

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It wasn’t his promises for being tough on crime. It wasn’t his promise to build a dome in the city limits of Birmingham. It wasn’t his announcement that whether you agreed with him or not that “from the bottom of my heart, that I do not care” (though it was very much the attitude I’d expect from someone who is determined to move his hometown forward). It was one action that albeit simple made me understand just what it means to Mayor Langford to be the guy in charge of the state’s largest city.

Immediately after the oath of office was administered on stage at the same building he pledged to demolish to provide room for the Southeast’s largest public art museum to expand, he stepped to the mic to correct a wrong that was not done to him, but to the man he follows into office. He asked Mayor & Mrs. Kincaid to join him on stage and sit with the elected officials and invited guests that were already up there. Then he let the former caretaker of our city step to the mic.

Perhaps some would see it as simple, but it’s those simple acts that are more important to me than anything else. Whether or not I voted for him, I realized that he, like all of the others that ran for the office, care deeply for this city; enough that they were willing to be dragged through the dirt and be ridiculed by people who would smile to their faces and verbally stab them in the back later on.

One thing I prided myself on during the campaign was being as non-partisan as possible. I did not see it as my place to tell the people of Birmingham who to vote for; I’d rather let them tell themselves. That is the point of The Terminal; to get the dialogue going so that the crowd isn’t being led, but are leading. The ironic thing is that I didn’t vote for either of the “frontrunners” in the campaign (and I’ll never tell who I did vote for), though many thought that the site was leaning in one direction. It was a collective voice of those that wanted to see change occur.

I come from a place that’s long gone from most people’s minds that believes that after the battle is fought that the community should come together and do their part to move the city forward. Period. No name calling, no grandstanding, nothing but the willingness to see their community do what it needs to do. If I didn’t, I’d hate to think of what my father would say or do to me, no matter how much older or taller I am now.

For the better part of the last six months I’ve been so focused on making a certain website a success that I’ve forgotten how much fun it can be to just let things be and happen. I’ve “enjoyed” verbal assaults that may help some folks feel good about themselves when they look at themselves in the mirror but that really didn’t make any sense. In the end it’s supposed to be more important to be above the fray. That is what will help move the city and the region forward.

Whether or not you believe that he’s the man to do it, Mr. Langford carried more than 50% of the vote to avoid a runoff. Barring a decision by a judge, he will be serving the city of Birmingham for the foreseeable future. He took a huge step to proving that despite the battles that lay ahead and the rhetoric that will be spoken that he can honor those that need to be honored and do right by the city that elected him. He is probably more like a New Yorker than I thought. And that gesture involving Mayor Kincaid proved that he does care and that he can operate above the fray. It is his hometown after all.

Unless and until it changes, let’s see if we can help him do something. It is our city.

André Natta is the publisher and managing editor of The Terminal. To submit letters in response to this commentary or to contact for general information, use any of the methods listed on our contact page.

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Filed under: Alabama · Birmingham · Commentary · Election '07 · politics