David Bennett will be the new mayor of Hilton Head Island. With a 2-to-1 margin, this is not a victory, but a mandate.
It was not a coincidence to discover that many of the most respected community leaders representing the most diverse backgrounds one can think of were supporting Bennett’s quest to become mayor. How diverse you ask? How about people in the fields of architecture, arts, banking, business, land development, education, hospitality, media, nonprofits, politics, real estate, religion, sustainability, volunteer groups and world affairs, just to name a few?
Not all of them knew Bennett intimately, but they could sense a refreshing honesty, modesty and ability to think clearly. A willingness to listen and the skill to create much-needed consensus to make true progress.
Ultimately, they saw hope in Bennett. Hope that we can and deserve to do better.
It is confidence-building that our electorate, which tends to be conservative, deliberate and reserved, came out to make themselves heard (9,000 votes were cast).
It should not surprise me; after all, they are my neighbors and friends, our readers, clients and business partners, and while in private conversations it did not seem difficult to reach a consensus that the status quo offered little excitement for the future, it was a quantum leap to assume that a newcomer to politics — a man with little or no name recognition — would be able to galvanize enough momentum in a few weeks to force a runoff and ultimately claim a decisive victory.
What it shows to me is that having the guts to have a vision and stand up for it, which so many did for so many years can be rewarding. The quality that is most American — the desire to fight for what you believe in — is alive and well in our hometown.
Ultimately, it is a sign that there is a general sense that our community is not quite done yet with defining itself and that opens up the possibility to create a fresh outlook toward the future that will be more inclusive and more comprehensive. If we believe that there are ways to work together across all aisles with no prejudice and an open mind, we can and will achieve a better future together, not just for us but for all that will follow us.
*In the next issue we will give David Bennett the opportunity to speak for himself
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