The mayor and I have two things in common. One, we were both born in Springfield, and two, we’re both fairly new to our jobs.
Both pieces of information were comforting to me as I tagged along behind Ken McClure on May 23 for Springfield Business Journal’s Day in the Life series, doing my best to find my footing alongside the leader of Springfield.
I started the day off antsy. I wanted to capture every detail. Sure, I was supposed to write about his schedule, but I also wanted to get all the interesting tidbits of information, too. I felt it was important to know not only what the mayor was doing, but what made his doings unique.
“What’s next?” I asked. “Where are you headed now? What were you up to during that entire hour and a half when we had to go separate ways?”
I’m not sure what I was nervous about. He had agreed to this, after all. And in the end, I had more than enough information to work with.
“We’re headed to my office,” he answered. “I need to check emails — more emails.”
As you may have guessed, the mayor reads a lot of them.
Ken had answers to all of my questions, and then some.
“What's this?” I asked, regarding a letter on a side table from his granddaughter, Ada.
Her first-grade class at Rountree Elementary wrote to the mayor telling him about their studies on the oceans. While others had addressed him as Mr. Mayor, Ada simply wrote “Dear Papa…”
“Who did these?” I said later, pointing to the artwork on his office walls. I had been to my fair share of Art Walks, but I had never seen these before.
Ken explained he wanted to expose local artists in Springfield, and having their work in his office was a great way to do that. A wall to the right of his desk remains blank, but he’s confident they’d find something good to fill it.
“What happens now?” I asked at Maple Park Cemetery five or so hours later.
It was almost the end of our day together and Ken was about to say a few words regarding the revival of the old gazebo.
He pulled out a piece of paper from his pocket to tell me all about the well-known people buried there, including Davis Tutt, who was killed on the square during a shoot-out with Wild Bill Hickok.
My day with Ken was a great learning experience, especially for a young reporter. As I neared the end of my list of questions, the mayor would mention something that I wanted to know more about.
There’s always something to be curious about. I like to think that having grown up in Springfield, I know just about everything there is to know about the city. My day with Ken proved me wrong.
Tuesdays are the mayor’s busiest day of the week, and May 23 was no exception. Check out the pictures I snapped with my cellphone throughout that day in the life of Ken.
Ken begins his day, officially, by meeting with City Clerk Anita Cotter.
A book on a side table in Ken’s office was gifted to him by his campaign team before election day. It also holds a letter from his granddaughter, Ada.
City Manager Greg Burris gives Ken city updates before a council meeting at noon.
Ken waits for everyone to be seated during a City Council luncheon, a plate of pasta and salad waiting for him.
A crowd gathers before the dedication of the Public Works compound to late Public Works Director Phil Broyles. Ken soon will say a few words with a page and a half of talking point to help him out.
Ken delivers his second and last speech of the day at the Maple Park Cemetery for the revitalization of the old gazebo. He also reveals the cemetery is where his father once taught him how to drive.
I spent a whole day hanging out with the mayor. I had to get a selfie to prove it!
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SBJ shadows the Springfield Little Theatre leader.
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