Had drinks tonight with Richard Irvin, a candidate for mayor of Aurora. Richard’s got quite the resume — soldier in the first Gulf War, former prosecutor, teacher, community leader, husband, father… oh yeah, he’s a Republican too. And African-American.
We didn’t talk much on specifics regarding his politics, other than for me to ask how, in a city that is 60% minorities, how he expects to fare as a minority who also happens to be a Republican. (Right or wrong, high minority populations tend to vote heavily Democratic.)
I was impressed with Richard: smart, charismatic, and most of all, genuine. I look forward to other meetings with Richard, where I can learn more about his political positions. (You can read about his stance on issues here I’ll simply note that for a Republican, he’s got an awfully strong faith in government. That’s encouraging for me, to be honest, but I wonder how it plays with the Republican faithful.)
One thing we emphatically agreed on: we need more local individuals passionately engaged in the political process. While we kidded Katie, our waitress, who decried politics as “ugly” and not for “social events”, I’m a firm believer that if government is to ever succeed, it will be if (and only if) people learn to believe in the possibilities that can be accomplished when neighbors work together. If we just buy into the “they’re worse than we are” crap that pollutes so much of the current debate, we’re all the worse for it.
Richard seems like good people. I admire anyone looking to improve their communities; Richard grew up in low-income housing in East Aurora, and is now a community leader and fighting to become mayor of the second-largest city in Illinois at 33 years old. More power to him; check out his site and consider getting involved.
Other candidates who’ve declared for mayor of Aurora include Tom Weisner (party affiliation not clear), Bill Wyatt (a Republican), and Angel Hernandez (couldn’t find a website; not clear on party affiliation).