PORT JERVIS – It’s late September 2015, and unseasonably warm. I’m wearing jeans and a black v-neck as I cross Front Street and Jersey Avenue to approach the Gun Lady I was chasing down a story that I had just stumbled upon after a speed bump along my initial path had sent me home.
Maria Mann, the patron saint of the city of Port Jervis, according to a 2nd Ward resident at the time, was running for the Common Council from her ward. Aiming to be picked up by the Republican committee, the female gun shop owner with progressive views and conservative tastes, made the one liberal bone in my body twitch. After chasing scoops and policy change for years at a “progressive” Upstate New York college, I couldn’t slow my haste, and decided to drop in for an interview.
No forewarning, I requested a Q&A session that moment, and she graciously accepted. Conveniently, Maria’s Campaign Manager, Christopher, was there and helped smooth the harshly left-of-center questions back into focus within the city. Maria, didn’t bat an eye at my gay or transgender outward appearance, and neither did he; not only that, but they were genuinely helpful in keeping me informed and without slant in their favor with their info.
Fast forward, the Primaries, like the most recent Bernie Bust, were rigged. At least, that was the unofficial reason that Maria Mann didn’t get her name on the ballot under the red flag. She didn’t give up, and neither did any of her voters, she ran as a write in.
Coming close, Maria would try the tactic of the write-in candidacy one mote time upon the mournful passing of a long-time statesman, Mr. Bell. Another unsuccessful bid by a hair, had honestly left ‘the people’s candidate’ bruised and without her trusted Campaign Manager, or myself for the record as a GOTV and Volunteer coordinator. The job was beyond my availability and expertise, but Maria Mann didn’t need it, because she knew to stick to her guns.
Maria wouldn’t let them forget their choices, their words, and especially not their inaction. Taking action in the name of justice is what accelerated her to the greater public eye in the first place, when she helped in the arrest of the man who had murdered her neighboring shop owner, Mr. Kucher. Her luck, dedication to the city, and persistence paid off.
Monday evening, the Common Council of the city of Port Jervis, with the resignation upon a conflict of interest by Mr. van Horn , filled his seat. The body led by 2nd Ward Senior Councilman George Belcher moved to appoint Maria Mann 2nd Ward Councilwoman beside them. Many celebrated in the city that night.
Looking forward to asking you questions at Council meetings Maria.