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A Higher Purpose

By Rev. Donald L. Perryman, PhD.
The Truth Contributor

  By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but Iíve got my eye on the goalÖ Iím off and running, and Iím not turning back. 
           -  Philippians 3:13,14 The Message
 

 

Rev. Donald L. Perryman, D.Min.

He is young, black and ďsavedĒ at a time when a generational divide exists, not only between older and younger black churchgoers, but also among current members of Toledoís city council. If elected though, Shaun Strong, candidate for District One, brings the inspiration and spirit of ďgrandmamaís African-American churchĒ and a black millennial voice to local government, two perspectives which have been absent from recent public discourse in Toledo.

I caught up with Mr. Strong for a one-on-one talk about his candidacy.

Perryman: Please tell me a little bit about your background. 

Strong:  I was born and raised in Toledo, grew up in the Washington Local Schools area graduating in 2007 from Whitmer High School where my pride and joy was being the mascot my senior year.

Perryman: So, you were the panther?

Strong:  I was Pete the Panther. And after Whitmer, I studied at the University of Toledo majoring in English education and English literature. During my college career I also moved in to care for my grandmother for almost six years until she passed away. 

Perryman: You have a church background, tell me a little bit about that. 

Strong:  I was born and raised in the grand old Church of God in Christ (C.O.G.I.C.).  My motherís family are charter members of what is considered the mother church of this area and that was Wabash Church of God in Christ.  Itís now on Oakwood and called New Life COGIC. My fatherís family grew up at St. James Church of God in Christ, first at 801 Vance and then on Nebraska. 

I was officially licensed as a minister at the age of 15, ordained an elder August of 2013 at age 23 and served in various capacities, locally. As a youth pastor at St. James, I taught Sunday school, taught Bible study, Iíve also done things on the district and state level.  On the national level, I held a couple elected positions including secretary of our International Youth Advisor Council. 

Perryman: How has the church shaped your philosophy towards becoming a council person?

Strong:  The church definitely has reminded me to have principles and standards.  I donít think that Iíll always be perfect, I donít think that Iíll always make the mark, but there ought to be something that Iím striving toward and reaching for. I believe that as long as I keep those things at the forefront of all the decisions I make then I wonít have issues of losing myself in the process and I wonít have issues of a marred character or loss of integrity.

Perryman: How has your work experience shaped your candidacy?

Strong:  Iíve been working with the City of Toledo for the last seven years.  I was an intern in the mayorís office under the Bell administration and then the late Mayor D. Michael Collins actually hired me.  While I was in his administration, I was his personal assistant and then helped with the transition between Collins and Mayor Hicks-Hudson.  After Mayor Hicks-Hudson I worked in several other divisions of the city.

So, one of the things that I think is very unique about my candidacy is, if being elected to City Council, Iím the most recent and probably one of the few that have actually worked for the administration.  Iíve seen it up close so when we talk about funding and where we can make improvements and changes, I think I would be the person most knowledgeable on city council to do that because I worked right there in the thick of it. 

My time at the mayorís office has also helped me understand the role of the mayoral administration and the role of city council and how that relationship should work together in harmony.  Iíve written legislation before, using the administrationís tools like Legistar, so itís all stuff that Iím very familiar with and although Iím a new face, I donít have the steep learning curve as someone who would just walk off the street and put their name in the hat.

Perryman: What is your agenda for District 1?

Strong:  One, I want to look at establishing an active and functioning Block Watch Association or Neighborhood Association in each community.  I believe that when residents come together, they will understand that they have more similarities than differences and itís our similarities that pull together the fabric of community.  Weíll put in our residents a sense of pride for their neighborhood, theyíll start getting involved at a greater level with local government and I believe itíll help them start caring about their community, which will actually help reduce blight, crime and all those other issues and perils that face our communities. 

My second goal and priority is economic development.  I would love to be able to work with government agencies.  I believe that weíre better when we work together and we donít have to reinvent the wheel.  There are so many wonderful organizations in our community like the local library that offers so many programs, but people just donít know about it, so helping to expand those programs so that we can do things like grant writing workshops, resume building courses, job readiness training, workforce development programs, helping people who want to start small businesses write a business plan, become an entrepreneur.  Those are things, I think, that will have a tangible impact on the local community, strengthen our communities and help our communities to thrive and to grow.

Perryman: What differentiates you from your opponent?

Strong:  One is, I offer fresh ideas, a fresh face and not the same ole same ole, but something new.  I also offer responsive and responsible leadership, and that simply means that itís not just going to be a group of people in the district that know me that Iím comfortable with and they will be the only people that I serve. My availability, in contrast, is for all the residents of Toledo.  I have to resign from my job once elected and thatís a sacrifice that Iím willing to make because I believe in District 1, which means all of my time is going to be devoted to improving my community.  So, when people call me, I will definitely call them back, Iíll be walking the neighborhoods and meeting with residents, sitting down in their homes discussing the things that affect them the most. 

Also, Iím not against expanding my network.  I think one of the things that we need to do that we may not have done in the past in the city is branching out, meeting new people, going to trainings across the nation to learn how to do our job better.  When we open up our mind and our scope of influence to other things, then we can get better ideas that we can tailor to Toledo. I have a friend who is president of City Council in Columbus, Ohio and just recently they recently were championed for growing their population and economy.  Things like that, going to Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin saying, ďHey, what have you done in Columbus that has helped boost your economy and surged your population growth?Ē  Let me see that so I can tailor it to Toledo and do the same thing here. 

Perryman: Do you have any further thoughts on your candidacy?

Strong:  At the end of the day I just want people to really hear my heart and to hear my passion.  This whole thing (campaign) is like a rollercoaster so you have your high days and low days and you have your times when you ask yourself Ďcan I even really do this, is it really worth it?í  And the other day in my meditation time I came across a quote from Bobby Kennedy that said there are two types of politicians or politics, something of that sort. And, he said, thereís the election you know you can win and then thereís the election that you believe in.  And so, some people will say that Iím probably biting off more than I can chew and I probably wonít win this, and thatís fair, theyíre entitled to that opinion. But what I do know is that this is something that I 100 percent believe in and that Iím committed to and thatís my community.  This isnít a case of if I were to lose then Iíll just throw my name in the hat for 2021 and run at large. I donít plan on doing that.  I care about District 1 right now, thatís my focus, thatís my passion, and this is what I really want to do and I really hope that people have a chance to see that passion and to really hear my heart, that I care for the community.

Perryman: Alright, thank you very much.

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

 

 
  

Copyright © 2019 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 10/03/19 14:16:17 -0400.

 

 


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