I’ve known Pat Harris for nearly a quarter of a century.
I’m pretty sure we’ve annoyed one another for the better part of all those years.
It took me awhile to finally find my way to supporting Pat for Mayor this year.
It had nothing to do with his character, his passion for public service or his potential to be Saint Paul’s next great Mayor.
I felt that Pat wasn’t being bold enough in his campaign. Not willing to take tough stands on the issues.
Far too conservative when it came to talking about the big ideas that a beautiful city like Saint Paul deserves.
Plus, he and I had a couple of conversations in which we both annoyed one another.
The benefit of being 54 and not 24 is that time, reflection and introspection can get the better of you.
In time I found myself supporting Pat for Mayor and, in doing so, believe I made a conscious decision to vote for someone who represents Saint Paul’s best chance to meet the next decade.
The events of the past week have not caused me to reconsider my decision.
On the contrary.
Pat’s response to these events have only strengthened my commitment to his candidacy for Mayor.
By not only disavowing, but condemning, a wrong-headed and stupid political action by a third-party organization Pat Harris made it clear the kind of leader he has been, and the kind of Mayor he will be.
There were no polls to guide him. No finger in the wind.
There was conscience. There was compassion. There was civility.
And, there was anger, frustration and sadness.
Above all else, there was willful leadership from Pat Harris rejecting and repudiating political rhetoric and tactics that violated not just his commitment to conduct a campaign with dignity and respect but undermined comity and tolerance in our Capitol City.
I am no Pat Harris sycophant.
He and I are not close, personal friends.
If I were to describe our relationship I would liken it more to a collegial relationship in which we have worked together throughout the years on policy issues and, often, on service projects intended to serve others.
Over the years our hair has grown thinner, our stomachs a bit broader and our faces a lot more wrinkled.
Despite our rough moments over the years one thing has remained constant about how I see Pat Harris.
He is a man of character who has been raised to serve others with compassion and dignity.
There is nowhere enough space on this space to list the charitable organizations and causes that Pat has supported, lead or created throughout his life.
If you need proof then I invite you to look here: www.patharrisformayor.com/meetpat
Those who have benefited from his kindness are untold thousands throughout the country and yes, throughout the world.
The afflicted, downtrodden, wayward, lonely and hopeless have been held in the heart of Pat Harris.
When others turned away at the site of the homeless, dirty, hungry and unwashed of the street Pat Harris held out his hand to help.
When men and women were sent thousands of miles from home to serve us in countries far, far away from their families Pat Harris brought home to them.
Pat’s public service in government is simply a mirror reflection of his life in public service outside of government.
For someone who is decidedly center left I haven’t always agreed with Pat’s further left philosophy and policies.
My bull in a China shop approach to getting things done is not how Pat Harris gets things done.
But, we equally get things done.
I admire and respect people who get things done.
I admire and respect Pat Harris.
You won’t see me out on the street ringing the bell for Pat Harris.
In fact, you won’t see lawn signs in my yard supporting Pat Harris.
They were there.
But, Pat pissed me off on something and I told him to take down the signs.
My 85-year-old Mother sent me an email a week or so after that and asked if Pat and I had made up and would I be putting his sign back up.
When I told her “No” she responded. “You two are funny.”
In the past week Pat has, once again, demonstrated the character that I have always admired in him in responding to an issue that was not of his own making or choice.
He could have said that and remained quiet and silent in the midst of attacks by outside of his campaign by an organization that, by law, he could not communicate with, direct or control.
Or, he could have chosen to step forward and be loud and clear that he would not tolerate the intolerable.
His decision to do the latter and not the former is what defines Pat Harris.
Which is why his lawn signs are going back up in my yard.
Even if he still annoys me.