Published: Sep 09, 2008 07:57 PM
Modified: Sep 09, 2008 09:57 AM
Last week at the dedication of a new school building, Davidson Mayor John Woods was doing one of those things that small town mayors everywhere are expected to do. He was making a short speech to congratulate the officials of Woodlawn School on their success.
There is more to the connection between Mayor Woods and the school, a poignant story I will tell you at the end of this column.
Woods' father was a much-loved family doctor in Davidson. Although he has worked hard to earn his own spurs, he would tell you that his family connections have been a big plus.
R. D. McMillan represented UNC before the state legislature for many years after a successful career in elective politics.
McMillan was also the son of a beloved small town doctor. Like Woods, he acknowledged that his father's reputation was a big help when he ran for mayor of Red Springs and won.
After celebrating his victory on election night he went back home, tired, happy, and ready to rest up a few days after the campaign.
His good night's sleep was interrupted about 2 a.m. by a phone call.
"There is a dead cow in the road in front of my house," the caller said.
"I am so sorry," the ever polite and gracious McMillan replied. "But why did you call me about it at this hour?"
"Well," said the caller, "you're the mayor, ain't you? You said you'd take care of us. So when are you going to get the cow out of the road?"
Small-town mayors work on people problems from the beginning to the end of their times of service -- solving problems, adjusting differences of opinion, and working out ways to improve town life within the confines of a limited budget. Often, they are amazing political creatures.
The past few days, American voters have begun to ask, does being a small-town mayor prepare someone to be a president of our country?
Probably not, I would say. But, neither does being a U.S senator, an effective community organizer, a brave member of the armed forces, or the governor of a state.
On the other hand, I bet there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of small-town mayors who would make good presidents. They are hard working, sensitive to the conflicting aspirations of their constituents, and patient and persistent in working to meet their goals. They have good judgment, a sense of humor, a keen and practical intellect, good character and a feet-on-the-ground stability.
Of course, experience on the firing line in government or other places where these qualities are tested can provide some good training for a potential president. More important, how the candidates handled these challenges can give voters an idea about which of these important qualities the potential presidents have.
So during the next few weeks before the election, we should be looking not so much at the candidates' resumes as what those experiences show about their presidential qualities, or the lack of them.
Back to Davidson Mayor John Woods. The building being dedicated at Woodlawn School is named for Woods' brother (and my childhood friend) Jimmy. Officially, Jimmy was Maj. James B. Woods. His career as an army officer was tragically cut short when he was killed in Vietnam.
Mayor Woods, by the way, would make a great president someday, as Maj. Woods would have, had he lived.
D.G. Martin will talk about this column on WCHL-1360 today at 8:18 a.m. with Ron Stutts. Martin is the host of UNC-TV's North Carolina Bookwatch, Fridays at 9:30 p.m. and Sundays at 5 p.m.