I hope this letter finds you and your family healthy and happy. I know I don’t write to you much, so I hope you don’t think it’s because I don’t care or have forgotten you. How could I? You’re on TV more than the president nowadays.
I realize you are quite busy with the campaign and all, so I’ll try to keep it brief. Our city has been through a lot these past months. It would be no exaggeration to say we’ve been to hell and back. We’ve all been through so much, none of it deserved. You especially, Ray, have been through the wringer.
I cannot hide my admiration for the way you’ve handled yourself through this crisis. Sure, there were moments of weakness when you gave in to remorse and anger, but even the bible admits to Jesus loosing it completely with the bureaucrats (and a fig tree). Who could blame you?
And much has been made of your “chocolate city” speech on Martin Luther King Day. Ray, I was not offended. I’ve always fancied my own ability to turn a clever phrase, and frankly, I liked the metaphor you borrowed from the song. You know more than anyone that no matter what you say or do, SOMEBODY will take offence, SOMEBODY will complain and send nasty letters. That’s just part of the business, as you know, as you so adeptly showed us your political savvy many times in the past few months.
But I need to get to the point of this letter. Ray, as much as I admire you, and as much as I respect and appreciate all your hard work, I just can’t vote for you again. This is a decision I have taken quite seriously, after much deliberation and thought.
Ray, this is simply not your time.
Four years ago, we needed a reformer, a person of business acumen to guide us out of the patronage and sleazy politics that gripped this city for at least two decades. Both Morials and Sidney Barthelemy ran City Hall like their own personal money machines. I thank you for making real improvements there, for running things free of the fingerprints of corruption. You did a fine job.
But in this post-Katrina New Orleans, what we need now is a visionary and a leader. We need someone who can inspire us to keep trying, someone who will coach us through the pain to victory. We need someone who can tell our story to the rest of the nation, someone who can communicate on a personal level with our peers in Baton Rouge. I think you know where this is going. Ray, it’s not that you’ve done anything wrong, it’s just you’re not that someone I’m talking about.
I hope you understand my reasons. We can have only one mayor, and as the incumbent, you are eligible for one more term. But this is not your time, Ray. The world we lived in when we elected you is gone. The world we live in now is drastically different. It requires a radically different skill set, which in my opinion, you do not have.
I hope you will know that if you are not re-elected on Saturday, it is not a sign of rejection. It should not be interpreted as a “throw the bum out” decision. It is simply a realization that the other guy is better for the current job description. We can’t risk being sentimental or sacrificing rational thought so that no ones’ feelings are hurt.
If you are not re-elected Saturday, I hope you will use this opportunity to spend more time with your wife and children. I hope you will find another place to put your wealth of talents and experience to good use, perhaps as a lawmaker in Baton Rouge. I’d certainly give you a fair hearing and might even vote for you again. And I would hope that time will be soon.