Running for re-election, against myself

in Community by

By Billy Keyserling
At 12:30 last Wednesday afternoon, I learned — as the deadline for filing for Mayor passed — that no one will be on the ballot running against me. Gearing up and ready to run, I had a funny feeling.
How am I going to run for re-election if there is no opponent?
You see, being mayor is not about Billy Keyserling. Rather, it is about making our “best hometown in the world” even better. It’s about communicating more clearly, as well as listening and learning to work well together toward shared goals. It’s about having the confidence to consider new ideas and opportunities even though we may not fully understand the consequences. It’s about achieving success, admitting when something does not go the way we thought it would, acknowledging so and making it right.
Being mayor is about being accessible to Beaufort residents — those who encounter problems with government plus those who need help how we can build on our history and natural beauty without destroying all we have inherited. In all cases, we must continuously be aware that we are merely custodians of the city we love for just a relatively short span within the 300-year timeline of our community.
I had looked forward to campaigning because I learned long ago that elections are the people’s best opportunity to hold you accountable for what you promised, and measure how they think you have done. People generally think more about public life when a local campaign is under way and are more engaged in civic matters.
So even though I have no “official” opponent, between now and election day I am going to campaign anyway in order to be a part of the process of listening, learning and gauging how am I am representing you as mayor of Beaufort.
In this case, I am going to take a page from a successful big city mayor who told the city’s voters when he had no election opponent, “I’ve never been one to sit out an election and, while I am grateful for what some of my friends have said is voter confidence in my public service, I will be engaged and available as if I had a serious opponent.”
I thank the people of Beaufort for the chance to serve another term. You’ll be seeing a lot me at campaign events this fall — whether they be Republican, Democrat or non-partisan.
As Michelangelo said at age 91, “I am still learning.”

Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling can be reached by email at billyk@islc.net.