Franklin mayoral election broke racial barriers

Published 10:04 am Wednesday, May 9, 2012

To the Editor:

Is America (and Franklin) post-racial? This question was debated in the media after the election of President Barack Obama. Sadly, the short answer is no.

Too many of us still readily submit to the urge to judge someone, or vote for or against a candidate based on skin color. But there are plenty of reasons to believe that America is slowly moving toward the ideal of a post-racial society.

Last week’s win by Raystine Johnson as Franklin’s first elected black and female mayor is one of them. It’s not a perfect story.

For example, Jim Councill won precious few votes in predominantly black wards while winning solid majorities in the others. What’s encouraging is that Mayor-elect Johnson won enough support (38 percent) in majority-white wards 1, 2 and 6 to win comfortably in a contest with two black candidates.

Also encouraging was the strong rejection citywide of Greg McLemore’s cynical campaign of divisiveness, innuendo and self-absorption. He even failed to win a majority in his own Ward 3.

Johnson’s honorable, positive and ultimately successful campaign provides evidence that we have made progress. A truly post-racial city and country may be an unreachable goal, but there is plenty of room to move closer to that ideal than we are now.

One way to keep moving forward is for more and more of us to find reasons other than skin color to support or reject office seekers at all levels.

To Mayor-elect Johnson, I offer congratulations and best wishes. Mayor Councill, thank you for your positive campaign and impressive record of successful public service. Mr. McLemore, peace be with you.

Galen Butler