Social media is all a-twitter over a personal reflection posted by Sonny Dixon on his Facebook page at dawn yesterday in which he mulls over a run for mayor of Savannah. I have received an equal number of calls and messages asking me for a reaction and response. Please be advised that the only time I have spoken to my old pal face to face he has advised me that he is retired and intends to remain that way, and until he changes his status I will have nothing further to say about his candidacy, except:
I have been conducting an open campaign for mayor for seven months. During that time I wasted a sizable portion of the first four months jousting with a candidate who announced but never filed and then folded his tent and went back to selling cars in South Carolina. Since then, others have floated trial balloons that deflated or were shot down.
As of today, I remain the only challenger to formally announce and file requisite papers. I will have nothing to say about "What if?" I am here to talk about "What Is".
But let me remind you that since Day One of this campaign I have been begging other candidates to run, not just for mayor but for all seats on city council.
I am an enthusiastic supporter of every challenger-- I underwrite some-- and have allowed them to attend my events in order to introduce them to my supporters. There isn't another candidate for office in Savannah history who has gone to these same lengths in trying to bring more people into a system that is broken and has been abandoned by far too many solid citizens. Whether you support my candidacy or not, at the very least you will have to concede that I have been the one and only lonely voice calling others to duty, and if Sonny Dixon should answer in the affirmative I will be the happiest guy in town.
Those of you who enjoined my online parry with OC Welch may remember that I endorsed his candidacy on his Facebook page and publicly stated that I looked forward to him joining the debate. You might also remember that I have publicly wished that 50 people run for mayor along with me, to expand that debate, to bring everyone back into the process, and back to the table for discussion. In a town where 7 out of 10 voters stayed home during the last local election, I was hoping that my candidacy might set off a stampede of contenders for office. The fact that the response has thus far been disappointing is not so much my failure as it is the perfect indication that Savannah's political system is as broken as I say it is.
However, there are two salient points to be made about my friend Sonny Dixon's public soliloquy: First, Sonny points out to us all that "The challenges are staggering." In meeting those challenges, Sonny warns us in advance that he does not possess a magic wand. Yet he also advises us that he is "prone to darn near killing myself taking on a tough challenge"; my sentiments, exactly. Second, Sonny wants us to know that as flattered as he may be with all this attention, he remains unconvinced that there is a "POWERFUL, diverse contingent" behind the request that he run and questions its "legitimacy".
To that comment, all I can say is this: In December of last year, on the eve of this election year, I did not hesitate to accept the call to duty from friends and supporters, having heeded editorials in our local media in which it was repeatedly observed that "no one is in charge at city hall" and that Savannah was in desperate need of leadership. I did not wait for supporters to gift me with a war chest filled with money. I did not wait for thousands of people to cheer me on via social media. And I did not worry about my friendships with incumbents, knowing that my candidacy has nothing to do with them but everything to do with me. I did not question the "legitimacy" of the call: I heard it and I answered it. And here I am.
I'm still here. I don't know if Sonny Dixon will join me.
So let me make one thing perfectly clear: I hope he does. If he doesn't-- believe me-- I will understand.