After weeks of politically-driven criticism of Calvin Ball, local residents are pushing back. Community response to those hateful, racist signs in Ellicott City has shown a repudiation of the Reopen Howard County rhetoric. Beginning Friday, a steady stream of of photographs and personal statements have been posted on social media, thanking the County Executive for his dedication and hard work in Howard County.
Think about it: people who are grateful for a scientifically-driven response to a community health crisis are not going to be showing up in droves to march in favor of physical distancing.
When the loudest voices are the negative ones, it’s easy to think that theirs is the prevailing point of view. The pushback on social media makes it clear that there are positive voices. A lot of them.
All of this has put me in mind of a post I wrote marking one year of Dr. Ball’s term. I am running it again because this week’s events make it increasingly relevant.
If Not Now, When? (November 7, 2019)
One of my favorite photographs of myself is a candid that was taken at a party at the Chrysalis. I was deep in conversation with Dr. Ball. This was before he had declared his candidacy for County Executive, but it was widely assumed that he was considering it.
The gist of what I said was that I had complete faith in his ability to to the job itself, but that I wasn’t convinced he should run because of all the hatefulness he would have to endure. I dreaded the possibility of more local racism coming out of the woodwork and of partisan smears whose only goal was to try to cut him down so that he looked small compared to their candidate.
Dr. Ball’s response was to acknowledge that those things would most likely occur, but that he couldn’t make a decision based on avoiding that. To paraphrase, he said that if he believed that the time was right for him to offer his service as County Executive, then he had to be willing to face that. “If not now, when?” Waiting until the perfect time was not an option. And with that was the suggestion that there would never be a perfect time.
For some, nothing this County Executive does will ever be right because he is not Their Guy. And for others, everything he does will be right because he is Their Guy. The truth of the matter is that Dr. Ball will do good, work hard, make some mistakes, and learn from them. His election was historic. That does not require him to be perfect. Anyone who attempts to hold him to that standard and call anything else a failure is showing their own bias, nothing more.
And now, a year in, everything we both said is true. More local racism has continued to come out of the woodwork. Partisan operatives seize every opportunity to cut him down. Yet it is equally true that Dr. Ball made the choice to continue his public service to Howard County and continues to make that choice every day. There is no perfect time. There is only the choice to do one’s best.
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