Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Ray Blanco: His Legacy, Our Opportunity

Ray Blanco was, in the best sense of the word, a political being.

Meaning that he understood the importance of the individual's responsibility to the polis
(πολις), the community -- and the responsibility of the leaders of the polis to attend to doing what fosters the well-being of the entire community.

As we bid farewell to our friend and leader, we would do well to reflect on his legacy and affirm our responsibility to carry it forward.

Ray Blanco celebrated inclusivity, diversity and opportunity.

Ray believed in including everyone in the political stew. He always reached out -- to those who didn't see it his way as well as those who did. He reached out to young people to encourage their talents and urge their best contributions to society. His was not a vision of private success alone.

Ray believed there was room for all at the table, that opportunity was not a scarce resource, but the very nature of the way life unfolds. And he believed in seizing opportunity.

Ray rejoiced in the opportunities -- and especially the business opportunities -- in Plainfield for one and all who have a dream, make a plan, and will roll up their sleeves and get to work.
Ray Blanco saw the City Council as a center of excellence and interdependence.
Ray believed that a Council should work hard and to its fullest ability. And he pushed people, like a good coach, to do better than they thought they could.

Ray understood the interdependence of the branches of government, and staunchly defended the prerogatives as well as the responsibilities of each.

Ray was a stickler for abiding by the spirit as well as the letter of the law. He could be innovative, but appreciated the role of custom in holding things together. He believed in playing by the rules.
Ray Blanco believed in transparency in the conduct of the people's business.
Ray believed public office was an opportunity to serve the people, not rule them.

Ray believed that governance should be as transparent as possible.

Ray believed that opportunities for citizens to serve on boards and commissions and in other voluntary ways should be simple and accessible. Both are hallmarks of his first significant legislative effort, the Civic Responsibility Act.
Ray Blanco was generous with praise and help.
Ray welcomed and cherished all: youth and adults; Black, white and Latino; native-born and immigrant; straight and gay.

Ray despised demagoguery. He could not abide dissembling.

Ray never took an opportunity to raise himself up by belittling or demeaning others or their contributions.
We can do nothing to bring back that smile, that laugh, that warmth and energy.

But we can dedicate ourselves to honoring Ray's contributions --
  • By taking them up as our own, making them part of our own civic life.

  • By embracing diversity.

  • By encouraging young people to engage themselves politically.

  • By conducting the people's affairs with openness, honesty, and the best interests of Plainfield foremost.
And in doing that we will honor him in the best way possible.

To our brother Ray, 'hail and farewell,' Ave atque vale.

-- Dan Damon

Not getting your own CLIPPINGS email daily? Click here to get started.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I had two encounters with Ray Blanco both positive. The first was a phone call I made to him to seek out his position on all the mess stirred up by Jerry Green and his "democrats" during the mayoral primary last year. First, I was surprised that he took the call. (We had never met) Second, I was surpirsed at his willingness to talk and respond to my questions. The call lasted about 30 minutes and ended with him agreeing to meet me in the future to talk about getting involved in Plainfield civic activities.

The second occasion was in regards to my son who has been trying to get into the movie industry. Having read about his achievements in the film and television industry, I suggested to my son to call Ray and talk to him about what he could do to get into the business. THis time I was not surprised but appreciated the fact that not only did they talk on the phone but Ray agreed to meet him and talk to him furhter.

I regret that I never had the opportunity to meet him myself but I pray that another person will rise to the occasion to be the inclusive leader that Ray was.

P.S. I am an African American man living in Plainfield.