Aren’t you the mayor's son?
This is the question that seems to always follow any initial introduction I am a part of in the city of Dearborn. Often times it’s followed by vague or presumptive inquiries such as, “What’s that like?” and “That must be weird for you, huh?”
Well, the truth is, I’d say it’s actually pretty normal. Then again, in many ways, I really don’t know anything else.
By the time I was born, my grandfather had just retired as the Mayor of Dearborn, following his stint as chief of the Dearborn Police Department during the later years of the legendary Hubbard administration. By the time I was able just able to talk, my dad had just been elected to as the president of the City Council in his first run.
There was no escaping being immersed in local politics, even at 4 years old.
Knowing that Dad had a Committee of the Whole meeting on Thursday, or a budget session on Monday night might seem odd for some 5 year olds, but all it meant to me was don’t wait up for dad tonight. Going to fundraisers and various political events was just another part of the weekly schedule, but that I enjoyed. Whether it was all you can eat spaghetti dinners at the Italian American Club, or hot air balloon rides from the back lawn of the Governor's Mansion, to a naïve little kid like myself, politics seemed like nothing but fun!
Coincidentally, by the time I was able to fully grasp some of the local issues and current events going on in my city, the local political landscape was about to change. See, I never knew my grandpa as the mayor; that was before my time. And being on the City Council, although definitely a respected political office in the city, is never a full time job.
With the tragic and sudden death of Mayor Michael Guido, the weight of the city and its current and looming issues were placed squarely on the shoulders of my father.
Nearly overnight, I went from being Devon O’Reilly, to “the mayor's kid.” It became the way I was indentified, and in many ways has been both a great benefit, and a detriment.
One thing you immediately learn is to develop thick skin. When someone finds out who you are, it’s almost as if they see you as his earpiece, and regale you with all of the issues and problems they have with the city and its leaders.
In addition, my dad had the distinction of being the first Dearborn mayor during the “social media” age, where blogs and Facebook pages covering every issue and argument related to Dearborn can be hashed out, debated, and scrutinized. Being of that generation and very active in social media, I like to peruse the local blogs and sites to see what the issues and arguments are, and often times get a good laugh.
Possibly to the dismay of those bloggers, however, my dad doesn’t read them.
The only time politics is discussed is when I or one of my brothers brings it up or has a question about something they heard. Even then, he’s incredibly adept at breaking down the often sordid details of an issue so that we can understand and discuss.
He has let us each choose our own path and never pushed a political belief, let alone a career in politics, on us. At the moment none, of us are pursuing anything near the political realm, and I can speak for the three of us when I say I doubt we plan to.
The thing that may be the most important to me, however, is that he has never let his political duties and obligations get the way of first and foremost being a father. Believe me–plenty of minor meetings have been missed, and fundraisers skipped, in lieu of a tee-ball game or parent-teacher conference.
What it comes down to is that while everyone else sees him as The Mayor, who happens to be a dad; he sees himself as Dad, who happens to be the mayor.
In addition to being "The Mayor's Son," Devon O'Reilly is the creator and editor of Reborn Magazine. Learn more at www.rebornmag.com.