This week we are celebrating the 57th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s iconic ‘I have a dream speech.’ As we celebrate and make commitments to public service, my family is delighted to be on the verge of a great dream in Hamilton County. My husband, Dr. Herman Jumba Najoli, has just entered a new season of civic and public service!
We have both been private servant leaders for years but not in the public eye of civil service. Herman (now Dr. Najoli) and I met while we were both in graduate school at Regent University, Virginia Beach, in 2003. At that time, he was a Program Specialist with a nonprofit organization that provides educational, rehabilitative, and behavioral healthcare services to individuals on the autism spectrum and other special needs. I was a Direct Support Professional providing non-medical and community-based support to adults with developmental disabilities. The minute we met, I knew that he was the man that I would marry.
Now, fast-forward seventeen years later to the year 2020. On January 15, in commemoration of the birthdate of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, my darling submitted 6,847 signatures to the Hamilton County Board of Elections. This was for his nominating petition to campaign to be the next Hamilton County Commissioner. On February 10, he received a call from the Board of Elections informing him that he had attained more than the minimum required signatures. What a thrilling day it was for us to learn that he will be on the General Election ballot for Hamilton County Commissioner. He will be the first Black male to ever appear on the General Election ballot as a candidate for Hamilton County Commissioner.
This was the second time he had submitted signatures. In 2018, he submitted 2,399 signatures to run for the seat that was previously held by Chris Monzel but fell short. Nevertheless, he was resilient and petitioned again in 2019. This year, Herman submitted more than double the required signatures for the seat that was being held by the late Todd Portune. Many thanks to so many community members who signed his petition.
Allow me to introduce you to this man that I call have always called my tender warrior. Herman is originally from Kenya and came to the United States in August 2001 to be an intern at a leadership development academy for youth in Garden Valley, TX. He comes from a humble, and wonderful family in Western Kenya. Whenever asked where he comes from, he has always joked ‘L.A.’. He is always met by shaking heads before he clarifies that L.A. means ‘Lower Africa’. You see, Africa is divided almost into two equal halves by an imaginary line known as the Equator. The Equator cuts through Kenya and divides it into two halves and Herman grew up in the lower half, the Southern Hemisphere.
This year we marked 16 years of marriage. We got married in Nashville, TN on Valentine’s Day in 2004. Prior to our marriage, I took him to visit my “hometown” in Harlem, NYC in December 2003. Subsequently, he has taken me to visit his home of birth in Wamage Village, Western Kenya three times (2008, 2012, and 2016). We have also traveled with our two children ages 14 and 11, who are both now on their second and third passports respectively. It has been such a joy for me to see the love he has for his parents, his siblings, his relatives, and his community of origin.
As a father, Herman is humorous, endearing, responsible, motivational, adventurous, and noble. There are times when his daddy-jokes don’t have the impact he desires but our daughter and son always smile. There are times when he goes overboard, like when he bought me a car in my favorite color (burnt orange) for our 11th wedding anniversary. There are times when he is too motivational, but I have also seen him do the grunt work of rolling up his sleeves and spending a whole day in yard work working with his hands. There are times when he has an unrelenting spirit for adventure, but his sense of nobility keeps him in check.
As a friend, he enjoys sharing his joy, understanding, mission, beliefs, and aspirations. He enjoys sharing his joy with me, his children, neighbors, and many of his colleagues. He enjoys sharing his understanding by reaching out to mentor youth, advise students, and uplift friends. He enjoys sharing his mission by adding value to the community and helping friends where needed. He enjoys sharing his beliefs by striving for the healing of society’s ills, encouraging the prosperity of neighborhoods, and teaching positive values that secure a strong culture. He enjoys sharing his aspirations by working toward diversity and pushing for inclusiveness in all sectors of society.
As a futurist, he celebrates being a navigator in the present, an architect of tomorrow, a joint problem-solver, outcomes researcher, leader of change, and independent thinker. As a navigator in the present, he is a planner who likes to focus on the present with an eye on the future. He is an architect of tomorrow who deeply desires to see upward mobility for all people. He is a joint problem-solver who values timely decision-making that addresses critical problems. He is an outcomes researcher who values unbounded dreaming and robust visioning. He is a leader of change with a passion for intentional living. He is an independent thinker who wants to see steady growth and thoughtful progress in our society.
I’m so proud of my husband for being willing to step up as a public servant, Let us celebrate Dr. King’s speech by living up to his big dream for America right here in Hamilton County! May you and your families be blessed. The dream is alive. As a proud and loving wife, I request you to please vote for Dr. Najoli as your next County Commissioner on November 3, 2020.