As previously noted, City Council candidate Brian Boyer was in the news today for his precedent-setting $50,000 media buy. He tried to place the expenditure in perspective by saying, "TV is a great way to reinforce the door-to-door campaigning I’ve done."
I can back him up on the door-to-door thing. On Saturday, March 1, I was at my daughter’s home visiting grandchildren. My wife and I were at the front of the house with the babies, and my daughter and her husband (the only ones present who could vote in this thing) were at the back, when somebody knocked at the front door. "Come in," we said. The knock came again. "Come in!" But the knocker allowed as how he’d better not: "It’s a stranger," he said.
But it wasn’t. When my wife opened the door I recognized Mr. Boyer and he recognized me back where I was sitting on the couch, so I got up and we all stood on the porch (he had a buddy with him) for awhile talking about the election.
Anyway, that Wednesday he came in for his actual interview. We talked about his growing up in the district, and his schooling at Hand, Dreher and West Point. Once he got his commission, he went to Ranger School, did his airborne training, then tried out for the Ranger Regiment itself. He made it, and was sent to Savannah to join the 1st Ranger Battalion. He was just beginning to settle into the routine of being a peacetime Army officer (albeit in a crack regiment) in the summer of 2001. You know what happened then — he went to war as a rifle company commander. The battalion "lost a good many men" in Afghanistan during service on the Pakistan border, part of that in the Hindu Kush. The unit got back stateside in January 2003, figuring they’d done their bit. Two months later, the battalion joined the invasion of Iraq. He says he only served there for a couple of months. He was awarded the Bronze Star.
His career as a civilian is less dramatic. He went back to school to get an MBA, worked for awhile in Charlotte, then came home and started a homebuilding company (he is vice president of Hallmark Homes International, Inc., where he "supervises all aspects of land acquisition, design, marketing, and sales"). He bought "the ugliest house in Shandon," which had been split up into three apartments, and started fixing it up as a single-family residence. A year after he moved in, he heard Anne Sinclair would not be running for re-election to the 3rd District.
His community involvement has included service on the board of the Columbia Chamber. He takes pride in his service on the city’s Affordable Housing Task Force, and notes that he built 10 townhomes in the Historic Arsenal Hill neighborhood which appraised at $161K apiece and were sold at cost for $99K. He says he’s in the process of getting certified as a "green builder."
He would want to stress three issues on council:
- Crime and Public Safety. He said adequate funding of this had not been a top priority of the city and should. He cited his military experience as being helpful in this area. He wants to get better technology in patrol cars so officers can file their reports from the field and stay out on the street more, something he called a "force multiplier." He’s distressed at the city’s and county’s inability to coordinate on youth gangs, and would want to be a bridge-builder on that.
- Financial accountability. He criticized the lack of openness as well as competence, citing not only the failure to close books on time, but the secrecy about the former financial director’s severance.
- General leadership. He said politicians "talk about I want to do this, I want to do that," but he has demonstrated the ability to follow through — both in the military, and with affordable housing.
He talked at some length about the failure to have an evaluation system in place for the city manager until recently. In the Army, he noted, you don’t go more than six months without a fitness report.
He would change the form of city government to a strong-mayor form, or the hybrid that’s been suggested.
When I asked him about the "factions" thing (see the elaboration on the Belinda Gergel entry), he said he couldn’t help the fact that his sister is married to Don Tomlin. "I’m about as independent as they come." As for the folks who are supposedly behind him, "none of them were there in the mountains of Afghanistan" or the "deserts of Iraq."
"I sort of feel that I’ve proved myself, and proved my decision-making ability, long before I knew those guys." At the same time, he’s proud to have their support.
But you can hear more about that on the video: