Cam Jordan has been the Community Development Director for the City of Fitzgerald for the past 11 years. He has played an instrumental role in Fitzgerald's redevelopment program which has resulted in 436 new or refurbished units of affordable housing, over $30 million in tax digest improvements and over 275 instances of blight removed.
“City politicians live, work, shop, worship and play in the same places you do. If they don’t pay attention, you and a double handful of buddies can likely run them out.”
August 18, 2008 Where Politics are at their "Localest" Cam Jordan, Community Development Director, City of Fitzgerald
Listen now [2 min, 48 sec]
On the approach of my sixth birthday my parents decided I would attend first grade in the city school system, though we lived outside of town. They were convinced the quality of education was worth a few dollars per week tuition and the aggravation of getting me there.
Rural city schools are mostly history now and I can’t really claim to have amounted to more than my county school peers. But my folks’ belief that cities can provide better economic opportunity and quality of life, for minimal costs, is alive and well in me today.
While cities allow us to herd up for protection and distribute survival tasks, that’s not the primary reason why cities work. They work through the cooperative interaction of individuals, moving the whole lot of us forward.
You could question whether it’s easier to be an individual outside a city, and you’d be right, to a degree. I grew up on a small farm and learned to be an individual mechanic, veterinarian, agronomist, laborer and construction worker; often all in the same day. This occurred despite the fact that I just wanted to be an individual who built things.
Cities, on the other hand, let us find a niche and become one individual, full time, in something we’re cut out for. People prove to be more productive mechanics, veterinarians and construction workers as they develop that expertise.
Despite our expansive individuality on the farm, we still depended on a city for what we couldn’t grow or wait on Sears & Roebuck to deliver. The city drove our little farm economy, just as cities drive our state and federal economies today. Cities provide the infrastructure businesses need and they foster environments conducive to entrepreneurship.
Similarly, cities add a little spice to life that isn’t found elsewhere. I’m still partial to a lazy fishing trip or a frosty morning tree stand, but that doesn’t beat watching your kid play Little League, a rollicking blues concert, or an afternoon in a good museum. Friday night football has given many a citizen of my town reason to live long after everything else petered out.
Finally, cities give common folks a voice.
Tip O'Neill said, “All politics is local.” Well, they’re at their “localest” in cities.
Unless you live in a really big one, you’re going to know who you vote for or at least know somebody who does. City politicians live, work, shop, worship and play in the same places you do. If they don’t pay attention, you and a double handful of buddies can likely run them out.
They can also amplify our voice at the state and federal level louder than most of us can alone. We represent one vote. They represent a lot of us and if we aren’t satisfied they ought not to be there.
I believe most of us appreciate the economic opportunity and quality of life perks that can only be found in cities. Some folks, however, persist in thinking everything can be run better from the state capital or even Washington, D.C.
I believe everything that can be handled in a city ought to be handled there. Because I want somebody I can look in the eye over breakfast and say, “What were you thinking?” Or better yet, “Thanks.”