I was taught the value of hard work and honesty at a young age. My father and mother worked difficult jobs and made ends meet making terrific sacrifices along the way to ensure my sister and I had a better life than they had growing up. My father is the first male in his bloodline to graduate from high school, his father was born into poverty, one of eight in a sharecropper family who picked cotton in the grueling heat of the Arkansas Delta. My father was also the youngest person ever in Indiana to receive his plumbing license. My mother is the granddaughter of an Italian immigrant from Reggio Calabria who instilled in his children the can-do work ethic and promise of the American Dream that lead him, like so many others both past and present, to cross vast distances in search of a better life and become living proof that any person with stubborn determination and grit can make something of himself or herself.
I was born on the west side of South Bend in the shadows of the shuttered Bendix plants whose former giant manufacturing presence drew my entire family here. I’ve always been inquisitive about my surroundings and have long asked “why?” or “why not?” when it came to addressing problems both great and small. I’ve always filled the role of underdog, out to prove myself worthy of all the tremendous opportunities that I have earned – whether it was working tirelessly to help turnaround the dormant Indiana University football program, as an award-winning pharmaceutical sales specialist, creating jobs as a recruiter or working as a stableman in college, no job was beneath me and I have approached every job with the same mentality: “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The same approach will be applied if you bless me with the honor of representing you in South Bend’s great Fourth District. I’m excited to meet you and even more excited to get to work for you. There is plenty of work before us and it will take a monumental effort by us all to tackle the many problems we have in our city but the thing about South Bend is that this city is not afraid to get to work. It was built on the backs of great men and women and it’s our time to be its stewards. To not only honor our heritage but also build upon it as we finally take South Bend into the 21st century. The future is in front of us; we just have to have the courage to seize it.
Meet the Candidates is a series introducing candidates in their own words. South Bend Voice has offered to publish statements from all South Bend office seekers who are on the May 7th primary ballot. Statements are posted verbatim. Find out more about the candidates on the ballot at Vote411.org.