These last few weeks have been hard.

For a decade now, I’ve worked on various campaigns for city council and for mayor. I was there in 2008 when we the people overthrew the entrenched incumbents on the city council; in 2009 when we overthrew the entire city government and passed a new city charter; and in 2010 when we elected Pensacola’s first executive mayor.

Most campaigns are full of compromise. You wince when your candidate accepts big donations from PACs or business, telling yourself that it’s a means to an end. You see your candidate’s shortcomings and you tell yourself that he or she will grow into the job after they win. Such is the nature of politics.

But this campaign was different.

Drew Buchanan was the first candidate I’ve ever worked for — and he’ll probably be the last — who checked all the boxes. Honest, principled, unable to be bought, incredibly knowledgeable not only about issues but about solutions, with a genuine heart for public service; someone who I knew with certainty would always do the right thing no matter the cost.

I worked harder for Drew than I ever have, or ever probably will, for any candidate. We built a grassroots campaign, fueled by small donations and an incredible team of volunteers and supporters, that was fearless and bold and that put honesty and integrity above all.

I believed in our campaign — and in the hope and promise that it represented — so much that election night gutted me.

But that’s democracy. The best person for the job doesn’t always win. Grassroots campaigns can’t always overcome insiders with deep pockets and big money PACs willing to spend as much as it takes.

Regardless, I will forever be deeply proud of the campaign we ran. To everyone who stood on hot street corners with us, who made calls with us, who knocked on doors with us, who gave $5 or $500 — thank you, so much, from the deepest depths of my heart. Thank you for caring. Thank you for taking an active role in our city and its future.

Over the past few months, I’ve often said that last month’s election was a battle for the heart and soul of our city. I meant it every time I said it, and I still believe it now. That battle was lost, but the war rages on. As Drew said on election night, campaigns end, but movements don’t. For those of us who believe in Pensacola and everything we know that it can be, progress is not optional. Like Drew, I will continue to fight for transparent government, for equality and justice, and to save and honor Pensacola’s history as we forge the future we know is possible. 

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