On Tuesday, Dec. 19, we residents of District 2 elected a new councilperson in an off year election.
Like in many elections, our community was divided around a variety of issues. I don’t tell many folks for whom I vote, especially in this election. Mr. Baxley Oswalt is a former city councilman with experience. He has always been in business, and in fact, had a business next to the church where I served as pastor for 19 years, and we become good friends. Mrs. Vickey Carter Johnson was a banker with financial experience. She was an attractive candidate and, like her opponent, campaigned hard. She also had the personal endorsement of her predecessor, Rev. Dr. Johnnie Robinson, with whom I had worked and taught. Mrs. Johnson won with a comfortable lead.
One advantage I think Mrs. John had is the fact that she added an element absent from our current city council – the feminine influence – in the tradition of (former) Mayor Peggy, Mrs. Michelle Walker and Mrs. Gail Head, etc. However, my concern before, during and after the election was more about race than gender.
The candidates were of different races, and support was, at least to some extent, along racial lines. Never was this more evident to me than at the Sumbry Music School the night the results were announced. I attended, along with another friend of Johnnie Robinson, Bro. Jim Eberhardt, the director of the “Good Shepherd” Shelter for Homeless men, a program not unlike what Rev. Dr. Robinson was running before his death. The event was a victory party for Mrs. Johnson. What was a bit surprising, and disappointing, to me, as a former pastor of predominately black churches in Phenix City (16 years) and in Mobile (17 years), is that we were two elderly white men in a crowd of more than 100 supporters, and the only persons of the color white that I saw.
I am not suggesting that Mr. Oswalt should have come there, but, I do feel that more white members of our community could have made the effort to come by and congratulate our newest female councilperson. Of course, it is never too late for anyone in our community to express our belief in the unity of the community.
Sincerely, Rev. Tom Weise
Mother Mary Mission