DeKalb Mayor Jerry Smith
DeKalb Mayor Jerry Smith

It started simply enough, as my Tuesday morning coffee group was awaiting breakfast at Faranda’s Banquet Center last week, Oct. 20.

Our waitress asked if we could pose for a group picture, to be given to her young daughter who was celebrating her birthday that day. Knowing my mayoral position, she was delighted when I told her I’d be happy to sign a birthday greeting on one of my business cards.

Little did we know that a simple friendly gesture would ignite a social media storm. A storm that not only would question my dining in an indoor setting, but a storm that put a damper on what would otherwise have been a joyful surprise for a little girl.

Folks, I don’t mind when I’m criticized. It comes with the territory. But, what a local blog did in publishing a picture that had been shared on a personal Facebook page, and to editorialize with a blatant disregard for the truth was shameful. Unfortunately, it occurs all too often nowadays, resulting in divisiveness and distrust.

Truly, those who have the luxury of using what our modern technology has provided should be more careful about what they post. I don’t think it’s too much to ask.

•••

Well, a year ago if someone were to exclaim “Wear a mask,” we would’ve thought that they were asking us to a Halloween costume party.

Not this year.

“Wear a mask” has become a part of our vernacular, as we struggle through the rigors of the COVID-19 pandemic. And, what began in March as a suggested way to stay safe now has become close to a mandate from Gov. JB Pritzker and members of our health community.

What some regard as an exercise of individual freedom suddenly has been trumped (no pun intended) by an overwhelming movement to do what is right by your fellow man. Locally, there are few, if any, business establishments that do not require a face covering. Folks seem conspicuous when they enter a room, often by mistake, without a mask.

So, let’s continue to Mask Up … and pray that a vaccine is soon available to all of us.

•••

Speaking of praying, as my wife and I left church last weekend, a resident came up to us and told me that she thought I was the “best mayor DeKalb has ever had.”

I thanked her. Frankly, I’ve been so appreciative of the many letters, emails and phone calls I’ve received since announcing that I would not be seeking a second term.

But, I certainly will not be smug about compliments.

Certainly not when just last week another resident wrote that my performance as mayor was a “complete failure of leadership in every sense of the word.” She went on to say that I was “apparently a mean human being.” She asked me to resign immediately. 

Furthermore, she signed her name followed by the hashtag #smithsaysscrewyoutodekalb.

Win a few … lose a few…

Have a good day, everyone.

For more local news, visit Daily Chronicle at https://www.daily-chronicle.com.

Column