Avery Johnson, vice mayor for the city of Cleveland for over 20 years, spoke to the Bradley County Democratic Party on the topic: “Just do your job!”
“We are in office to serve the people. So elected officials should work hard, be committed to excellence, and move forward together. These are our responsibilities to the citizens,” he said.
“A few months ago,” Johnson continued, “a group of ladies from this Democratic Party were in the newspaper telling the politicians in Washington to ‘Just do your job’. They didn’t listen, and the government shutdown negatively affected 1.4 million people. There were many different speculations about why this happened. In my neighborhood, people were saying ‘it’s about race,’”
“When I was appointed [to City Council] in 1993, folks said I was in the ‘wrong district.’ What they meant was 90 percent white. Since that time, I have run five time and won five times. You see, I knew something that they did not know – people want to be treated fairly. Help them meet their needs, and they will follow you.”
Johnson shared stories about his first job as a short-order cook at Cedar Lane Restaurant and his promotion to a typing job.
“I earned a raise and got to sit in the boss’ chair. At 15 years old, I learned the true meaning of equal opportunity.”
He then told the audience about his 43-plus years at (Magic Chef) Maytag where his first job was washing trucks.
“I was promoted many times – operator to foreman to supervisor. I worked hard, sought out possibilities, and over-delivered in my responsibilities. Real leaders must learn how to manage not only the results but also the expectations.”
He continued, “We must remember who we are, where we come from, and where we are going by building on the strengths of the past. It should never be about race – it should be about our commitment to excellence in service.”
In the 2014 elections, “we need candidates who love and care for this community, and are willing to move forward together.”