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Bringing New Streams into the Mainstream

By Rev. Donald L. Perryman, D.Min.
The Truth Contributor

Many people have no time for change efforts because they are too busy just keeping the organization going.

-  Rosabeth Moss Kanter


The struggle is real! The intergenerational conflict that exists between baby boomers and millennials or gen Xers is legit.

The boomers feel a lack of respect regarding their personhood and civic contributions on the part of younger generations. The older crowd also feels that they are being ridiculed and portrayed as a group that needs to be put out to pasture, far away from productive society, where they are best left to putter around the house with their flowers or in a rocking chair “where they belong.”

On the other hand, millennials, quick to point out perceived hypocrisy wherever encountered, seem to cry out “I can’t breathe” while grabbed by the throat and with the baton of leadership used as a weapon to cut off their wind of opportunity instead of being passed to them.

The truth is that we fall in love over and over with the same outdated dysfunctional political ideas as long as they come bearing new “names” or labels. And we repeatedly double down on the failed strategies of the past and are also addicted to resurrecting the long ago-buried, moldy and mildewed personalities that have abused us in the past.

With municipal elections scheduled November 7, the question becomes: Is there a way to utilize the wisdom and experience of an established generation while simultaneously incorporating the fresh, youthful ideas and activities of emerging generations?

To put it another way, can old dogs learn new tricks? Or, as Kanter (2002) asks, can we “manage new streams within the mainstream?”

The six at-large councilpersons that we choose on November 7 hold the answer.

Who will win?

The Sure Things:

1.     Rob Ludeman. The fiscal conservative is one of two Republicans on City Council. Ludeman, a baby boomer, has served for 22 years and his re-election is a lock. He is also likely to be top vote getter.

2.     Sandy Spang, like Ludeman, is also a baby boomer and comes out of powerful District 2. A political Independent, Spang came to municipal government late in life and brings her core issue of priority-based budgeting, a reprogrammed Department of Neighborhoods and other forward thinking ideas to government.

3.     Cecilia Adams, PhD brings a storied family history of community leadership to the table and, like Spang, is a boomer who recently began to serve on City Council. Adams’ focus is on youth and finance, which she learned from her many years of teaching and administrative experience working for Toledo Public Schools.

Three the Hard Way:

The fiercest battles will take place for spots four through six. If citywide turnout is higher in the November 7 general election, expect to see some shuffling of the results that we saw in the primary.

4.     Larry Sykes. A top six finisher in the primary, yet to be seen is whether Sykes’ dustup with young activist Julian Mack will affect his reelection. What an embarrassing mess!! Expect Sykes’ positioning to fall somewhat compared to his finish in the primary, but probably not out of the top six. However, a sizable turnout in the white areas could leave this senior politician on the outside looking in.

5.     Nick Komives. A millennial and “fighter for the rights of all people.” The energy Komives has spent campaigning for environmental justice and “improving our failing infrastructure” could bear fruit and catapult him into a top six finish. Komives has knocked on a ton of doors. Will voters hear his message?

6.     Sam Melden. Another millennial who, since the beginning of his candidacy, has maintained that Toledo needs fresh energy and leaders who are more focused on looking forward rather than backwards. Melden’s message of clean, safe and affordable drinking water should resonate with all of us. Will Sam’s great media message and hard work be enough to integrate youth into city government? We will see.

On the Bubble:

7.     Gary Johnson. A multicultural baby boomer, Johnson finished sixth in the primary. Johnson, a local businessman with humble roots, recently had a nice media piece where he was shown touring Family House, a shelter for homeless families. His alignment with those who face unfortunate circumstances will help to capture a lot of the African American and minority vote. Johnson also has strong backing from the Democratic Party. Expect Johnson’s battle with millennials Komives and Melden for the final spot to be extremely tight.

8.     Harvey Savage. Another boomer, Harvey Savage brings name recognition to the black community, in particular. Although Savage finished “in the money” during the primary, the media has taken great pains to distinguish the candidate from another Savage family known for their philanthropy. This time, however, Harvey Savage faces an uphill (but not impossible) battle to reach the final six.

9.     Kurt Young. Middle-aged Kurt Young is a strong and committed candidate who currently serves as an appointed member of city council. Young has increased his presence and name recognition in the African-American community. However, I’m not sure that he has done enough to enable him to jump from position nine in the primary to the top six in the general election. 

Can we all get along?

For certain, today’s younger candidates and electorate bring new paradigms both for living and governing. The younger generations are arguably more informed and not swayed by old paradigms of influence. They also are not likely to regard symbolism over substance and are not afraid (like many boomers) to talk about tough issues such as race. They also feel free to challenge and question the status quo (or systems of authority) using what previous generations regard as “irreverence.”

Yet, in order for intergenerational conflicts to heal, “new streams of ideals and activities flowing alongside the established mainstream” must occur. This true for not only people, but also for governments and cities.  

Contact Rev. Donald Perryman, D.Min, at drdlperryman@centerofhopebaptist.org



Copyright © 2017 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 08/16/18 14:12:34 -0700.



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