As a general rule, I loathe surprises.
I’ve had a few friends express to me that they were surprised to see that I was supporting Robert Kellogg for re-election to Gastonia City Council. However, when I first became acquainted with Robert several years ago, it was surprise and a sort of pleasant cognitive dissonance (if there exists such a thing) that spurred my interest in getting to know him better, and that ultimately became the catalyst for my becoming involved as his campaign manager.
Of course, this is a non-partisan election, but it can be difficult sometimes to separate a person from the labels and distinctions he or she has earned in the arena of local politics or in the eye of public perception. In Robert’s case, he had a reputation as an activist; and he was known, perhaps most significantly, as the former chairman of the Gaston County Democratic Party. As a conservative and a registered Republican for as long as I have been able to vote, it would be fair to say that I had preconceived notions (as we all do) in terms of what to expect from him when I first encountered him.
What immediately struck me about Robert was how even-tempered he was, and the restraint he so deftly exercised when provoked. His thoughtful responses were invariably devoid of the defensive, knee-jerk emotional reactions that conservatives sometimes find so pervasive among the left. He dealt with facts and never made an argument personal — even when he was personally attacked and when unfounded criticism was leveled against him. Also absent was the often seemingly requisite detachment from the realities of a free market economy; Robert has been gainfully employed since his teenage years and understands personal accountability and that nothing good comes free, fast, or easy. His work ethic is evident in both the context of his “day job” in the private sector as a store manager and in the capacity of city councilman. I have, on more than one occasion, jokingly referred to the Rush song “Working Man” as an apt descriptor for Robert Kellogg. Robert makes an honest living, pays taxes, and is sympathetic to the concerns of average citizens and small businesses.
Another distinguishing characteristic of Robert Kellogg is that, in sharp contrast to the vast majority of those involved in politics (on both sides), he seems to possess a gift for listening and understanding – two invaluable traits in a public servant. He has told me that he enjoys getting to know people of differing opinions and ideologies, and I can personally attest to the fact that this is more than an empty or idle statement. Though I would now consider him a personal friend, I think it is worth noting that Robert knew relatively little about me, other than that I had some business acumen and was a political conservative, when he asked me over a year ago to consider being his campaign manager. Truthfully, the day he did, I was surprised once again. It turned out to be a good thing.
Character matters. Temperament matters. This election matters.
Robert Kellogg and I do not agree on everything (although I continue to be surprised by the number of issues on which he does agree with me). Even so, I care about who is representing the citizens of Gastonia on City Council and making decisions that will affect our future; and, if I can get someone who believes in individual liberties and fiscal responsibility, who is intelligent, fair, hard-working, genuinely good-natured, and has a true heart for public service – and it arrives in the form of a guy who just happens to come from the other side of the aisle — then, in the immortal words of The Fabulous Thunderbirds: “Wrap it up. I’ll take it.”
— Sarah Drummond.
Appeared in the Gaston Gazette on Oct. 12th, 2017.