Former Mayor of Portsmouth, now candidate for New Hampshire Governor, Steve Marchand, spoke to a group of young professionals the other night. I was always impressed with Steve and his rise to mayor at age 31. His energy and enthusiasm are kind of infectious. I think he would be a great governor of the Granite State.
Thinking back to when Steve was mayor, I was brand new to the Port City and brand new to local politics and governance. Though I came here to be involved in this active community, I never imagined just how much of a player I would become.
I was lucky to find myself living in one of the most active neighborhoods in the city and dove right in. Beth Rabadam was the neighborhood coordinator at the time. She lived three houses away with her kids and spouse, Frank, who happened to be a Filipino-American just like me (a notable fact because per the last census, there were only ~22 Filipinos living in Portsmouth, whose population is 21,000). It was great to work with Beth, a total force in the community, and naturally, we also became friends.
But a year or so later, it saddened me when the Rabadams moved to Pennsylvania. By default, I picked up Beth’s role as neighborhood coordinator. It’s been 9 years now, during which I have worked with my neighbors to address street improvements, neighborhood safety, sustainability and zero waste, parking, and other quality of life issues. Because our neighborhood abuts downtown, we are impacted by much of the rapid development taking place in the last five years. This keeps us active.
I am still no pro at civic leadership. But being connected to our local leaders and my neighborhood has kept me inspired to be present in what happens right here, right now. It isn’t always easy to keep up with it all. But it is important, to me, and I try my best.
As a devoted Port City resident and homeowner, however, the effort is truly a labor of love. People who live here are fueled by their love and affection for Portsmouth, and fight passionately for what they believe makes this place special. And I drank the Kool-Aid — seemingly buckets of it! So much so that I was included in the book Legendary Locals of Portsmouth, published in 2013 by a local journalist. I was truly honored by this.
Please visit my Values in Action page to get an idea of the roles I have played in the city so far. And keep an eye on my Blog and my Instagram for updates.