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I have a dream! It is a dream for a Jacksonville leadership team who cares more about serving the community than their own self elevation. It is a dream that infuses servanthood ingredients throughout the phrase “public servant.” It is a dream where leaders model authentic compassion and empathy for hurting communities, not childish visions of star studded titles on doors with corner rooms. It is also a dream with 19 members who can think independently from the Chamber, the Civic Council, the Mayor, and any who value their power more than their conscience.

I have to admit with absolute and honest disclosure: I AM an admirer of certain people. And when I admire, I pass on the compliments.

I also like to write with honest indelible ink, and I abhor those who lack listening skills, and elected officials who only push their own agendas squashing their constituents’ input. 

Give me civility, layers of smarts, an ounce of humor and an “other–centered” elected official and you own me and every other Conservative voter in Jacksonville. On the other hand give me arrogance marinated in rude sarcasm and I and every voter I know must excuse ourselves quickly to the nearest Spittoon.     

In mid June 2019 we will rotate in another team of City Council folks, and sadly we will rotate out a pair of my favorites:  Council members Bill Gulliford and Lori Boyer. We are not in their districts, but these two never limited their helpful actions to the few. We get to keep Danny Becton who constantly works diligently to serve District 11, but whose mores and therefore votes reflect true Republican values, and whose speech constantly is laced with both edification and carefully thought out replies and questions. I have noticed both Mr. Gulliford and Mr. Becton as two who are not afraid to stand alone, and two whose logical thought processes are evident at all meetings.   

So, what is my dream? That the new and returning council will take the respect for others Mr. Gulliford modeled and clone it, carefully adding touches of his ever engaging gravelly voice.  That they will take the poise of Ms. Boyer and mimic it, being careful to lace all meetings with her sophisticated love for knowledge and appropriate action. And that they will study the work ethic of Mr. Becton and his confidence to stand alone FOR the PEOPLE and pass that marvelous steadfastly diligent vitamin around.

My dream is specific in these areas:

Listening skills: Some people just don’t have them, and I will be kind not to call names of those City Council folks who look out windows, or look at the clock during your long scheduled meetings with them. Etiquette teaches you listen twice as much as you speak. Great Council Members show respect by authentic listening.

Work Ethic: You were elected to solve problems and protect residents. Show up. Study. WORK. At the end of every day do a self-evaluation. Answer the question: What solutions have I found to better represent those who elected me?

Diplomacy with a gravelly voice: Mr. Gulliford always cut to the chase. He studied, held meetings, proved his point, and somehow remained diplomatic. His charming gravelly voice was the warmed ointment for getting his points across. I am not sure he can be replaced, but he will always be remembered fondly.

Model honesty for a full day’s work: Can you say “return emails and calls”? The rule of Etiquette is you return calls by the end of the business day. A Council member works for those citizens they represent. Showing up for a full day’s work means a timely reply to communication sent your way. Absolutely employ your staff to return calls and notes when possible, but a short email reply stating you have the message and will get back to the caller by a stated time will help. Then write that time on your calendar and actually DO it. 

Value and respect those you work with: If you have an issue with another elected official, handle it by phone or face to face. Real men and women both apologize and accept apologies. Etiquette teaches we respect others more than ourselves, a very foreign concept in today’s political atmosphere. 

Look in the mirror to correct the problem: Don’t take yourself so seriously that it is hard for your head to enter the room. The door has not shrunk. Your ego has enlarged. Self-deprecating humor reduces the affliction called swollen head syndrome. Yes I have a dream for Jacksonville’s leaders. It’s a great dream don’t you think? So do those who voted for you.

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diann catlin is a retired Etiquette Consultant from Jacksonville Florida, and former Editor of Jacksonville Lawyer Magazine, Orlando Lawyer Magazine and Jacksonville Home and Hospitality magazine. Her book, “WHATEVER HAPPENED TO NICE?” was published in 2009. 
Diann loves politics, and frequently writes on the need for civility in the political world. She has been married to her best friend Bodie Catlin for 47 years, is the mother of two married and very well behaved sons, the cheerleader for her two lovely daughters in law, and the doting grandmother of four absolutely PERFECT if vivacious grandchildren.
She divides her time between Jacksonville and her cabin in North Carolina.

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