I've gotten into several conversations that sound like this:
"Do you have something to say about Andy Smith at the Nickelodeon Theatre? He is running for Columbia City Council."
"I don't know who that guy is."
My friend will then go on to say nice things about the movie theater. The marquee sign on Main Street looks awesome. It only makes sense to have a beer while watching a movie. They have a friend who hosted a scary movie night at the Nickelodeon, and another friend who hosted a variety show, and it's like they've found ways to transcend the movie-watching experience.
Andy Smith has been at the head of the Nickelodeon during all these experiences. If he has not been visible, it's because he surrounds himself with energetic people who like to build things.
That is exactly what we need in a city leader.
Andy Smith also founded the Indie Grits Festival and has been at the center of its growth and expansion. He's given artists of all disciplines more opportunities to show their work. The festival has highlighted whole city blocks and sections of Columbia. It's brought tourists to town, added to area businesses, and found uses for undiscovered spaces around our city.
Again, imagine this sort of cultural growth on a city-wide level.
This has helped me professionally. I work at Camon, a small, quiet Japanese restaurant on Assembly St. We serve those who are hungry, literally and figuratively, for authentic cultural experiences. I also own P-Bug Goods, which sells t-shirts that proudly proclaim "Columbi-yeah!" The Tapp's Arts Center, where I am Program Manager, showcases the visual and performance art talents of regional creators.
All of these organizations have seen benefits from the collaborative mindset of Andy Smith.
It's not because Smith goes and puts a billboard of advertisements in front of the Nick. It's because he knows that our city becomes richer when he puts together an efficient organization that relies on the talents of exciting and excited people. You can find his specific plans at the Andy for Columbia website.
It's like he's found ways to transcend the Columbia living experience.
If you don't know who Andy Smith is, but you like the work that he has supported, you have a great reason to elect the guy. If you do know who Andy Smith is, you know you have no excuse. Find a neighbor and go vote together on Tuesday 11/3. Make an experience out of it.