I've written before about my long-ago acquaintance with Sherrod Brown, Ohio's junior US Senator. Brown was a very young member of the Ohio House of Representatives when, in 1979, I spent a year as Supervisor of Pages. He was always personable and without pretense, in spite of having won election to the House at a very young age and his obvious intelligence, two things that could have made one so young a bit full of himself.
Yesterday, after not running into Brown in twenty-eight years, I had the chance to speak with him. I'd been asked to participate in a community leaders roundtable, the ninety-first such event that Brown has held around the state since becoming Senator in January, 2007.
Frankly, I had little to offer, having only been in Logan for about five months (though a resident of Ohio for all but about a year-and-a-half of my 54-plus years.) But it was encouraging to see that Brown is still the cheerful, warmhearted, and personable character he always was. I also liked the fact that his shoes were even uglier than mine, these dimpled black things with suction cups on the bottom. "They're comfortable," he said simply.
Sometimes officeholders ensconce themselves in arrogance and pomp. And sometimes, those of us who observe them ascribe nasty motivations to them. But first and foremost, these people are people. It appears that Brown hasn't forgotten that and that's refreshing.
I don't know that Brown got a lot out of the meeting that he didn't already know, although I was incredibly impressed with the knowledge and the dedication of the community leaders present. They included agency directors, some county and community elected officials, businesspeople, and so on. This too, was an important reminder. Sometimes, wherever we may live, we think that the most capable people are "someplace else." What I saw yesterday underscored the fact that often, they're "right here."
As for what our community got from Sherrod Brown's visit, I would say that most of all, it got the sense that its junior United States Senator is willing to listen to them.