On January 15, 2020 I submitted my petition to the Hamilton County Board of Elections (BOE) for the purpose of running for Commissioner as an Independent Candidate. This was my second submission after falling short in 2018. It took tremendous resilience to go back to the voters and request for signatures. We filed on a symbolic 230 petition pages to symbolize the fact that there has neither been an Independent nor a Black Male candidate on the ballot for Commissioner in the 230-year history of Hamilton County.
On February 20, I received a phone call from Elections staff at the Hamilton County Board of Elections informing me that I met the signature requirement and would be certified for the ballot soon after the 2020 Primary Election. I immediately announced to family and friends that as part of this campaign, I will run 230 miles across Hamilton County to symbolize that there has never been a candidate like me in the 230-year history of our beloved county.
On March 17, 2020 I made an announcement that I will be running in November 2020 as an Independent Candidate for Hamilton County Commissioner. We had hoped to launch our campaign officially and begin ramping up but just like so many others, we were waylaid by Coronavirus. That very day, the Primary was suspended, which meant that my certification as an Independent General Election candidate would be delayed. With the stay-at-home order, we suspended all campaign activities indefinitely pending the BOE certification.
On April 28, the Primary was conducted. It was a nail-biting contest between the party candidates, but we now finally know all the contenders who will be on the General Election ballot for the Hamilton County Commissioner seat. I am honored to be the first Nonpartisan Independent to make the ballot for Commissioner. Obviously, it will be a grueling task because of the uniqueness of my candidacy but I am ready to go.
On May 12, 2020 I was formally certified as a Candidate on the General Election ballot. This took place at a meeting of the Hamilton County Board of Elections. This certification is the final verification that on November 3, 2020 my name will be on the ballot as an Independent Candidate for Hamilton County Commissioner. For that purpose, here is why I am running for this office.
TEN REASONS WHY I AM RUNNING
My campaign seeks to honor the past, celebrate the present, and envision the future. These three themes cut through the ten reasons why I am running. These ten reasons, in order of FRIENDSHIP (it is not what you think), are as follows.
1. Fervor of Leadership
I am running for office, first and foremost, to provide leadership. Ever since childhood, I have been inspired by great leaders, the primary ones being my grandfather and my father. Grandpa was the founding pastor of a church established by British missionaries and the first headmaster (principal) of a school that they established. This was a futuristic decision by him, and he provided tremendous leadership for many years. Dad was a senior government official, in what is known in Kenya as the Ministry of Agriculture, for almost 30 years. He served as the Deputy Director of Agriculture for the nation. Throughout the 1980s, dad would sit with me numerous times to discuss global issues. I began following presidential and national leadership. The fall of the Berlin Wall under President Ronal Reagan and the inspiring leadership of Nelson Mandela in South Africa ignited my fire for learning leadership.
Fervor is an intense and passionate feeling about something. Both my grandfather and my dad instilled in me a passion for prioritizing academic accomplishment. I came to the United States in 2001 for that purpose and ended up rising in love with a lady who is now my wife. Over time, I embraced my naturalization as I delighted in the American ideals of a free and open society. I went on to pursue my terminal degree in Organizational Leadership, becoming the first person in my family to acquire a doctoral degree. Now that I am a father, and my children are at an age where they understand public service, I knew that it was the right time to engage in this journey. I am running for Commissioner to utilize my academic development in providing fervent leadership to the people of the county that I love so much. The principles of leadership that I have garnered from numerous mentors have readied me for the task ahead.
2. Rigor of Organization
I am running for office to facilitate organization. We are living at a time when the values of good organization will be extremely vital for the success of government. Our local government is facing a most unprecedented time that will require robust organizational leadership. We cannot afford to do the same things we have always done, electing the same individuals we have always seen on the ballot. We need a new organizational leader with a fresh, remarkable vision for Hamilton County. I am offering the most remarkable organizational leadership for this season of Hamilton County’s continued advancement into the future. My platform, planks, and principles ooze of the quality of great leadership that is needed. My in-depth study of organizational leadership since 2002 has uniquely equipped me to be the most ideal candidate for the office of Commissioner.
Rigor is the quality of being thorough, exhaustive, and accurate. As a researcher working on my doctoral dissertation, I developed an ability to thoroughly analyze situations and scenarios. The doctoral process requires numerous iterations of studious development of theses. This painstaking attitude for quality demonstrates the rigor that I will bring to the Board of County Commissioners. This can be evidenced by my analysis of the 12 most critical qualities that a Commissioner will need to have in the upcoming term. These are cognitive awareness, outgoing aesthetics, managerial affect, multicultural alignment, issue agility, synergistic artistry, strategic alertness, inspirational appeal, organizational acumen, negotiating attitudes, educational achievements, and reflective abilities. As commissioner, I will demonstrate how these qualities lead to remarkable organization and advancement of better results than the status quo.
3. Inspiration of People
I am running for office to serve the people. The desire to serve is a primary motivator because I have always been inspired by humanity and delight in inspiring others. My own life was transformed when in 1998 I served as a missionary to an unreached people group in Northern Kenya and met a retired couple from Ames, IA living in that area. Robert and Ann Erickson were empty nesters who had retired a few years earlier in the US, sold everything they had, and moved to Kenya to serve the local nomadic tribes. I was a student at the University of Nairobi who decided to use my break to go distribute clothing and grain to the nomadic people in that area. By that time, Robert and Ann had been living there for two years. We became friends and they introduced me to an organization in Garden Valley, TX that was looking for leadership interns. This inspiring act transformed my life as it led to me becoming an American citizen.
Inspiration is the process of being mentally stimulated. Having been inspired, I have an obligation to inspire others. That is why I have developed the most outstanding campaign team that is working on the success of this run for office. That is why I have also assembled the most amazing panel of advisors that is offering me insight for this journey. That is why I connected with more than 9,000 voters who signed my petitions to run for Commissioner. I am inspired by people. I am running to serve as an inspiration for people. I have developed an intense level of creativity that is inspiring. I want to bring that to the service of the people. I have written four books that have been inspiring to many. My latest book, Public Servants in Government, Education, and Nonprofit Sectors is a testament to the quality of inspiration that I bring to communities. I am running to elevate my public serve and inspire people of all ages in Hamilton County.
4. Earnestness of Economics
I am running for office for the joy of economics. Years ago, I sat in a lecture room for four years, graduating First-Class honors with a Bachelor of Arts degree having majored in Economics and minored in Commerce. Years later, I taught International Business and Global Issues to adult learners at Indiana Wesleyan University education centers in Batesville, IN; Dayton, OH; and West Chester, OH. The study of economics and how its intricacies affect communities has always been a delightful joy in my life. As I have transitioned into social work and experienced the harsh realities of people’s lives, I have often leaned back on my learning, seeking to find pathways for marrying my educational knowledge with my experiential observations. I always knew that the right act would be to run for public office, hence my arrival to this day. I have developed a robust eight-fold platform that merges these insights in the most beautiful way.
Earnestness is a sincere and intense conviction. I am earnestly convinced that my eightfold platform is the most comprehensive agenda ever advanced by a candidate for public office in the entire 230-year history of Hamilton County. The platform comprises of the planks of substantive policy and issue ideas. It goes further to detail my leadership philosophy, addresses my development as a leader, captures my agenda, and crystallizes my vision for the future. The pivot points of the platform are two proposals. The first is the creation of an Office of Resident Advancement through Networked Growth, Entrepreneurial Creativity, and Investment in Neighborhoods for Commercial Innovation (ORANGECINCI) while the second is the launch of Hamilton Economic Reinvestment Action for Local Disbursement (HERALD). My 32-page policy framework details both and a variety of my plans for the next thirty years of Hamilton County.
5. Nobility of Wisdom
I am running for office to share courageous wisdom. In conversing with my wife, we arrived at the conclusion that it is always best to step up courageously rather than withdraw from public service. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s, statement that, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy” lit a fire in me for courageously stepping up. These are not normal times. Leaders must stand up and deliver wise leadership. In my doctoral dissertation I detailed three dimensions of wisdom – cognitive, affective, and reflective – highlighting how they correlate to organizational citizenship behavior. I am ready to make a difference for the community that has given me so much by bringing that understanding of the nobility of wisdom to county government.
Nobility is the virtue of honesty, integrity, goodness, and decency of character. As I have labored in the trenches on many social work expeditions, my motives for public service have been tested and purified. My character has been refined through empathetic relation with service recipients and definition of who I am as a person. I have grown in wisdom as a father, as a friend, and as a futurist. This quality of nobility prompts me to run and espouse my beliefs for public service within and without my community. During my first attempt to run for office, the movie Black Panther was released. I was stunned by how it captured my political philosophy. Seven key things from the movie form the bedrock of my leader development values and I have highlighted how these relate to my personal development. It would be an honor to bring this nobility of wisdom to Hamilton County as the next Commissioner.
6. Distinction of Growth
I am running for office to engage our communities in growth. Growth is the only guarantee of our future as a county. I have marveled at the praise being offered on the growth taking place in other metropolitan areas like Nashville, Louisville, and Indianapolis as reporters make comparisons to the growth in the Cincinnati Metropolitan area. Hamilton County can win in growth rankings of similarly sized counties. I am running to be a champion for growth. I will sponsor growth. I will support growth. I will value growth. I will celebrate growth. In a recent campaign team meeting, I informed my teammates that I am running because I want us to be GROWTH County. This simply means Generating and Reproducing Outcomes of Wealth that Transform Hamilton County (GROWTH County). This is what I call my Vision 2050 and it is outlined in my HAMCO 2050 Agenda. It will be detailed more fully in my upcoming book Becoming HAMILTONIAN Thrivers (2021). It is time for growth. It is time to thrive.
Distinction is a contrast between similar things. Growth makes a distinction between things. Counties grow at different rates based on the expertise of their administrations at using the right combination of policies to facilitate needed growth. Metropolitan areas and counties that have distinguished themselves as growing areas over the years have done so based on clear decisions. I am running for public office to bring about a better government that is responsive to the wisdom of the people. Hamilton County residents are an audacious bunch and they know that we desperately need growth. We must distinguish ourselves as the queen city of the Midwest again. As Commissioner I want to champion the assembly of remarkable minds who will spearhead a vision for growth. As we rise again to our place of pre-eminence as a leading county, we will begin to attract the investments that will catapult us to the top of county rankings.
7. Solidarity of Neighborliness
I am running for office to jump-start a new level of solidarity amongst all Hamilton County residents. The pursuit of fragmented agendas by our political leaders has hurt more than helped our county. I am an Independent thinker and will bring a mindset of unification to the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners. My medium-term mission is that we will be one big Harmonious, Amazing, Magnificent, Invigorating, Lively, Thrilling, and Outstanding Neighborhood (HAMILTON). By facilitating consensus between leaders and a bringing a new sense of teamwork to local government, we will be able to move forward, be first, and lead. We the people of Hamilton County have an opportunity to demonstrate to each other, to the State of Ohio, and to the entire country that we are solidly united behind a commitment to thrive together. This new level of solidarity will emerge through serving one another through organized leadership.
Neighborliness is the extension of kindness, goodness, and virtuousness to all persons within one’s sphere or domain. Within my community of Price Hill, we have begun to see the fruit of neighborliness as individuals come out to do life with one another. Good neighborliness goes a long way in creating a community where people know each other and are known, thus reducing the vices of a society where the other is viewed as a stranger. Smarter strategies for safety and for fighting crime demand an element of great solidarity and neighborliness within a community. Good neighborliness will enhance an atmosphere where residents are coming out to enjoy the natural resources of Hamilton County in outdoor recreational activities with one another. As Commissioner, I will ensure that we have a Hamilton County where families, children, and seniors are thriving together and extending the solidarity of neighborliness to each other.
8. Heartiness of Change
I am running for office to bring about change. It has been disheartening to see the partisanship in our region over the past few years. It truly has hindered development and resulted in gridlock that impedes public service. This partisanship and gridlock have emerged because of the continuity of professional politicians in our local government. The professionalization of our politics has resulted in an environment where some have emerged who feel dynastically entitled to positions based on name recognition or family of origin. Our politics should be like a baseball game, where one goes from first base, to second base, to third base, and finally home. First base is local politics, second base is state politics, third base is national politics, and home is retirement out of politics. It hinders the flow of baseball when a runner tries to run backwards to first base from second base. Runners run forward, not backwards.
Heartiness is the quality of being enthusiastic, friendly, engaging, and warm. Change, after a long period of sameness, is hearty. It is like a good meal that is filling and satisfying after a never-ending hunger pang. Government is many times viewed as dry and drab with many of its mechanisms viewed as bureaucratic and boring. I am running for County Commissioner to bring a sense of creative excitement and colorful energy that enhances civic engagement and moves citizen emotion. I am running to facilitate change that is Strategic, Effective, Inclusive, Sensible, Methodical, Innovative, and Compelling (SEISMIC). The SEISMIC model is more than just seven qualities of change. It is the living, breathing, exhilarating vision of our campaign. Now, accomplishing that county-wide would be like all residents of Hamilton County having a hearty meal together. I am running for the heartiness of change.
9. Integrity of Hamiltonians
I am running for office to serve with integrity. The intensity to run was sharpened a few years ago when I discovered that one of the commissioners had a full-time corporate job and was not working full-time for the county. I had always believed that elected office at that level should be a full-time job. I immediately began collecting signatures to run against that commissioner in 2018 but I had a short window and a full-time role that did not allow me to garner enough signatures. Nonetheless, Hamiltonians wanted change and that commissioner lost in the fall. Since my vision had been fired up, I was relentless and decided to petition again in April 2019 for this run at the Commission seat. I petitioned for the signatures full-time by myself, will campaign full-time for 175 days (after losing 55 days due to Coronavirus), and will serve full-time as the next Hamilton County Commissioner. That, to me, is integrity.
Hamiltonians have generous hearts and they know a leader when they spot one. In my latest book, Public Servants in Government, Education, and Nonprofit Sectors, I coined the phrase HAMILTONIAN which means being Heroes for many citizens, Adventurers with purpose, Makers of other’s dreams, Igniters of a better future, Leaders of seismic change, Thinkers on a mission, Outstanding visionaries, Navigators for community, Inspirers of true greatness, Advocates for the vulnerable, and Nicest nurturers & neighbors. I am running for Hamilton County Commissioner so that I can facilitate a HAMILTONIAN county. Leaders have a Hamiltonian responsibility to ensure that all residents are thrivers. We announced my certification as a candidate standing in front of the statue of the great Alexander Hamilton, whom our county is named after. I am running for County Commissioner because I have an innate understanding of my Hamiltonian responsibility to fellow residents.
10. Purpose of Greatness
I am running for office after carefully surveying the local leadership landscape, and the state of the county in view of the promise of our county. As an immigrant, I know full well that this is an audacious effort. At Friends of Najoli campaign, we know that we are ‘punching above our weight class’. But that’s the feisty spirit of Hamilton County itself. That is the immigrant story of Alexander Hamilton himself. He immigrated to the US to pursue purpose. He was able to surmount numerous difficulties to become Secretary of the Treasury. That is why we decided to have our official campaign kickoff event at the Alexander Hamilton statue in the city of Hamilton, OH. As I pursue this purpose, I humbly acknowledge the words of President Martin Van Buren who stated, “I tread in the footsteps of illustrious men… in receiving from the people the sacred trust confided to my illustrious predecessor”.
Greatness is the quality of being eminent. As a person of faith, I have always embraced my greatness as the simple fact that I am a child of God. Regardless of the outcome of this election, I know that I am great. When elected, I will govern as a leader chosen by all people, for all people. This is a non-partisan role and I am an Independent candidate not beholden to any party’s interests. That, I believe is the key to greatness as a leader. At Friends of Najoli campaign, we honor the past as we run for change. We celebrate family as we seek to see this idea of FRIENDSHIP (Fervor, Rigor, Inspiration, Earnestness, Nobility, Distinction, Solidarity, Heartiness, Integrity, and Purpose) thrive in all our neighborhoods. We envision the future as we run for a vision of sparkling clarity for all in Hamilton County.
Join us in this run and help build a victorious campaign.