Fran Griffin, by Josh Privitt

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(Disclosure: the author and candidate are co-workers)

It’s easy to hold grudges.

Whenever we disagree with someone or we have had a past argument with a person, it’s easy to keep that in the back of our minds going forward, tainting anything we hear or see from that person. For example, I might have a fellow Ferguson-ite approach me in public and tell me off, a council member not vote the way I wanted, or someone simply refuse to have a conversation with me. Going forward I’m going to take much of what they say in a negative light whether I do it intentionally or not.

In my opinion, grudges only seem to get amplified when we are talking about politicians at any level. We hold this negative opinion of folks we disagree with, and that taints any action or statement by that person. In some cases it makes us hyper-critical. And to be clear, I’m including myself in this.

Councilwoman Fran Griffin and the so-called “Mayor’s Bloc” have been the focus of much criticism as of late, and in my view, it is because of grudges as explained above. Because of this, and to provide an alternative perspective for a bit of balance, I present to you my top 4 reasons why I appreciate Councilwoman Griffin being on council (she’s the person I know best):

  1. She’s truly got her ear to the ground with her neighborhood, and especially those who are typically marginalized. Having walked many of the streets in Ward 3 recently, advertising a community meeting, the amount of support and appreciation I heard for Councilwoman Griffin reiterated this for me. She knows that the only way to build up all of Ferguson is by focusing on those who are struggling to make it. We cannot be a whole community without putting our attention on our typically marginalized neighbors.
  2. She is always looking for creative and innovative solutions (even when others don’t want to entertain them). This is where her support for alternative solutions to public safety come in (such as the creative traffic calming measures implemented by the city recently, along with other ideas around public safety that have been either suggested by folks in numerous public forums or implemented in our police department). These solutions may sound strange or may even take us a while to understand what the purpose of them are, but every time I have had a conversation with the Councilwoman around some of these, there’s a good perspective behind them that needs to be considered.
  3. She’s willing to call folks out to be better, and have a real conversation where you are heard, even if you’re also pushed to do something different. She’s done this for me numerous times, and I’ve seen her willingness to have gracious and hard conversations with others as well.
  4. She’s always willing to take care of a neighbor calling with a concern or need (either personally or with city policy and governance). I’ve seen her sit in a meeting as residents expressed critique and concern around their neighborhood as a whole, where she listened graciously, and there were clear steps to address the concerns. I’ve seen her personally deliver food to residents (even when it’s not required of her) and help connect folks to resources that are needed. She’s got Ward 3’s back.

We don’t always agree as people, and that’s ok. We can be in conflict with one another, and that’s ok. This back and forth discussion and argument can often be helpful for ourselves and our city. However, dismissing folks because you are in conflict or disagree with them on some issues is not helpful. Let’s start to be clear on what we disagree on, what we agree on, and why, and go from there. Let’s start to check our own grudges, biases, and agendas when they get in the way of growth (for ourselves and our city). Let’s be better.

Josh Privitt is a Ferguson Resident, budding comic book lover, runner, cat dad, and always up for a good cup of coffee. He calls Georgia Avenue home.