In the media recently, Rod Robison has been quoted as saying that neighborhood associations don’t represent everyone in the neighborhood. Perhaps that is why I cannot remember ever seeing him attend a meeting of the Shepard Boulevard Neighborhood Association even though he and anyone else within our neighborhood’s boundaries is automatically a member.
We distribute fliers to every house inviting everyone to participate, and involvement does not take a major time commitment. We meet once a year, with an occasional extra meeting called during the year. You would think that a City Council aspirant would be interested enough in what is going on in his own neighborhood to make the effort to walk one block from his house to attend.
Mr. Robison certainly has every right to choose not to participate, but his lack of participation disturbs me because it appears to be but one symptom of a deeper disengagement from civic affairs.
When asked about his community involvement, Mr. Robison says he has worked with the Scouts and that he used to volunteer with the police department in the 1990s, both of which are admirable pursuits. Likewise, he says he serves as a timer for sporting events, which is also admirable, though hardly applicable.
Apparently, he has not served on any city or county boards, commissions, committees, advisory organizations or even his own neighborhood association. Any such activities might have given him the minimum knowledge necessary for holding a City Council seat, but he has chosen to avoid them.
Then, at the neighborhood association’s campaign forum the other night, Mr. Robison was asked what he would like to accomplish as a council member. He responded that he wanted to make sure the trash was picked up and the potholes were filled. That’s not the vision we need. While he might make a fine city councilman in a small town, Columbia is no longer a small town.
Luckily, Sixth Ward voters have a better alternative in Barbara Hoppe, whose knowledge of neighborhood issues is far superior, who has sought training in national seminars covering city issues, and whose record of civic participation is long and exemplary. She deserves our vote.