My intrigue with the role of Hamilton County Commissioner first emerged in 2016 when I was invited by friends on the Westside of Cincinnati to a house party for a candidate. In 2018, I decided to petition for signatures to gain ballot access. I fell short of the number required as I had only three months — a very short window for any petition signature collection. However, while petitioning in 2018, I frequently ran into the team of the candidate who eventually won, and later met her to develop a friendship, thus solidifying my thinking.
The next year, 2019, I was appointed to the Hamilton County Tax Incentive Review Commission (TIRC). This was insightful in many ways that I shall detail soon. In April 2019, I decided to start petitioning about a year early (the deadline was March 16, 2020). In interactions with registered voters, I found myself naturally engaging with many. My personality shone. I was able to acquire enough signatures. While crisscrossing the county, I thought frequently about my foundations and the colors to use for my campaign. In this article, I outline how all this came together.
A couple of years ago I was deeply intrigued by personality tests. I took numerous measurement and assessment tests several times over the space of about five to ten years. The one that inspired me tremendously was the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). The MBTI was developed by the mother and daughter team of Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers. It is based on the idea that humans have four dominant psychological functions. For me, results consistently showed that my dominant functions are Extrovert, Intuitive, Thinking, Judgment, abbreviated as ENTJ. Individuals who have emerged as ENTJs have tended to be strategic, logical, efficient, outgoing, ambitious, independent, effective organizers, and long-range planners.
As I have crafted my campaign, I have explored what my foundations as a leader are and what best describes my thinking and my approach to life and leadership. My personality is without question the primary foundation of who I am but I have also been influenced by two uniquely different leadership images. The first image developed during my youth as I got to know my grandfather in Western Kenya and the second emerged during my time in Nashville, TN where I met my wife, got married, and lived for two years.
The first image captures how my passion for leadership developed. My earliest influence on what it means to be a leader emerges from my grandfather, Daudi Najoli. In the early 1900s, he was approached by British missionaries who came to his village. They taught him English and asked him to serve dual roles. He was asked to be the founding pastor of a church that they planted, Wanondi PAG, and the principal of a school that they built next to the church, Wanondi Primary. His diligence led to his two sons being the very first in the village to attain a college education and helped to develop the collective thought of a small community in that area of Maragoli, Western Kenya.
The second image captures how my interest in political leadership was stirred. As a young adult, I met my wife in Nashville, TN. We had our proposal celebration on The General Jackson Showboat, which is named after Andrew Jackson, the seventh President of the US from 1829 to 1837. As we visited numerous historical sites, I was intrigued by The Hermitage. In visiting the Tennessee State Capital in Nashville, I was swept away by the story of James Polk, who was the eleventh President from 1845 to 1849. Polk who was nicknamed ‘Napoleon of the Stump’. According to American Historama, an Encyclopedia of US History for kids, Polk is speculated to have had a personality type that would be “… INTJ (introversion, intuition, thinking, judgment). A reserved, analytical and insightful character with a strong sense of independence”.
THE COLORS OF MY CAMPAIGN: ENTJ in Orange, Blue, and White
As I have crafted my own style, I found myself leaning to these three individuals: my grandfather, and the two former Presidents of the US. When I was a kid, I always liked orange. Orange seems to be an extrovert’s color as it communicates enthusiasm. In my opinion, the EN (Extrovert, Intuitive) is represented in the ‘en’ in enthusiasm, hence orange. Since my childhood, I have always believed that my grandfather Daudi’s quality of thinking informed his decision-making. He had a sense of trust for the missionaries. Blue is the color of calm thinking and trust (that’s the T). I believe that the role of County Commissioner requires a calm personality. It also requires good judgment. In my view, Andrew Jackson and James Polk, were not perfect but had good judgment (J). Jackson paid off the national debt and Polk expanded the country. In my candidacy announcement, I quoted Alexander Hamilton, whom Hamilton County is named after. He said, “I never expect to see a perfect work from an imperfect man”. The color of perfection and purity is white. In various shades, it represents the journey toward more perfection. In the Biblical scriptural belief, white garments are associated with purity in heaven. Hence, my campaign colors are orange, blue, and white.
Today, in my basement studio, I have this five-legged table which I use as representative of my grandfather being invited to the table by the missionaries, then him turning around and inviting the community to ‘come to the table’. I wanted my table to also be a platform that I could take on the road, so I added a stump underneath as a ‘fifth leg’ to symbolize ‘Napoleon of the stump’. The stump is right in the center base of the table and reminds me of the stability that I needed carrying stumps as a kid from the valley to the top of my hill on my dad’s property. And finally, we branded my basement studio Herman’s Hermitage in recognition of the impact of Andrew Jackson. In my next article, I will detail the imagery of the five-legged table.