>>Valley Patriot>>

There is no room in Lawrence
For this Racist Poison

On March 30th I officially announced my campaign to be elected mayor. At that time, I spelled out a three-part platform for moving our city forward - enhancing economic development and job growth, fixing our school system for our children, and improving the quality of life for all Lawrencians.

I am running for mayor because I feel I have a vision and plan to move our city forward. I also feel I can provide the one thing that has been sorely missing in City Hall - leadership and a commitment to our community. 

For the last three years all of these areas have suffered because of a lack of leadership by the current mayor. As we move into the election season, the mayor has decided to continue with his “no leadership” theme, as demonstrated prominently by his absence during the recent attempts by some politicians to inflame racial tensions.

Over the years many of us in the community - Latino and Anglo alike - have worked hard to bring people of all races, creeds, and beliefs together to move our city for-ward.  I have spent my life in Lawrence as a healer.  I work each and every day, as an educator, busi-nessperson, father and com-munity leader, to unite and advance our city. 

I have a dream of One City, One Vision...with all of us working together to make it happen. I see neither North nor South Lawrence, but one Lawrence.  Not a city divided by a river, but a community united by bridges, bonds of family, friendship, and common interest. I see neither Anglo nor Latino, but One Community-stronger together for our very diversity.

I have always stressed that we must be one community working for one dream - the dream of providing our children with an excellent education that prepares them for an ever-changing economy; the dream of helping each of our citizens to obtain a job that utilizes their skills; the dream of a robust economy that enables us to fill those vacant buildings downtown with pro-ductive, sustainable commerce; the dream of safe and clean streets free of ugly, seem-ingly permanent litter and crime of all types.

These are the things I want to help provide for my city, and they are the very things many Lawrencians talk about at the neighborhood meetings I attend every week.

There are those in the community, however, who have other ideas. Instead of hope and success, they sow poison - a poison of hate and division designed to hold us back. They would rather rip apart the product of all our hard work. They would rather pit Anglo against Latino like it matters who is the better. They just do not understand that we need to work together if we are to succeed. The race card is the easiest and most emotional ploy they can use to dirty all the good we have built.

This was never more evident than during the controversy surrounding the mayor’s attempt to remove Roger Twomey as a member and chairman of the Licensing Board. When we needed leadership from the mayor’s office during this stressful episode, we received silence. Quite frankly, Mayor Sullivan dropped the ball. I have always thought of the mayor as a decent man who cares for our city.  But during this episode I was troubled by his lack of response.

During the Council’s review of this matter, some political leaders in our city chose to use this time as an opportunity to inflame racial tensions. They labeled as racists: Mr. Twomey, his neighbors in Mount Vernon, and even me.  Fortunately, the efforts of these so-called leaders failed ultimately because our community is more enlightened than they give us credit for. We saw these attacks for the cheap, petty political stunt that they were. Still, the attacks continue. However, while all this was going on, the mayor offered his mere silence in response. He could not be bothered to act.

At our Council meeting I aggressively denounced these racial attacks to the chagrin of the perpetrators. I have spent my entire time as a community leader working to unite our city in order to advance ourselves forward. When I see a wrong I will always speak out and act to rectify it.  I was not going to allow the crass political antics of others rip apart the hard work that thousands of us in this city contribute each day to building one city and one vision. 

We cannot afford to be divided along racial lines. There is no place here for these people to peddle their racist poison and for those who seemingly assent to it through their silence. I see neither Anglo nor Latino, but a community working together to make our success happen.

As this election season progresses, we need to talk about our schools, jobs and economic development, our streets, and our parks. Our city deserves political leadership working for all Lawrencians.  Our good citizens see through these petty political stunts and reject them outright. I will not allow the haters to keep us - Anglo and Latino alike - from fulfilling our promise as a city and our obligation to our children. 

You deserve that leadership.  

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Prior Columns By Marcos Devers