Critical Thinking and Critical Conversations: Real Political Leadership
County Commissioner Mark Jerrell joins host T. J. O’Hara on Deconstructed to discuss the challenges elected officials face as they try to expand voter participation, address social issues, and deal with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. The two also explore what true political leadership requires and how critical conversations need be entertained to address complex issues like race.
Mr. Jerrell currently represents District 4 on the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners in North Carolina. He is a former Executive Committee member of the Black Political Caucus for which he chaired the Get out the Vote and Legislative committees and co-chaired the Economic Development committee. He also is the former host of Hipolitix, a unique pop culture and political show on which T. J. was a guest numerous times during his 2012 presidential campaign.
Mr. Jerrell talks about the barriers that confront underrepresented voters and his efforts to help them become more actively engaged. Just as that community began to expand its participation in the political process, he notes how it was particularly hard hit by the pandemic. Small businesses were crippled, the issues of affordable housing and homelessness grew, mental health concerns increased, and even the ability to deliver online classes presented problems as many families lacked the necessary Internet connectivity. The Commissioner discusses the delicate balance that is required to address these obstacles and how important it is to think through the solutions to avoid creating new problems.
Mr. Jerrell reveals his approach that leads with data rather than emotion or partisan preferences. However, he points out how critical it is to incorporate empathy in crafting solutions because, ultimately, every solution touches the lives of real people.
T. J. explores a myriad of other issues with Mr. Jerrell that challenge citizens across the country, and the Commissioner shares his thoughts on how to solve them. Listen to the show to learn how the Commissioner has addressed these challenges and how they might help your city and state as well.