eneva City Councilor Mark Gramling has only been in office for a little more than seven months. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t learned a lot in that time. As the first African American City Councilor elected, Gramling has many residents hoping that he can be the change they’ve longed to see become a reality in Geneva – while being an example for other communities to follow.
On Thursday’s Inside the FLX podcast Gramling joined Josh Durso in-studio to discuss a variety of issues crucial to residents in Geneva.
His passion for politics is evident in the way he does his job, but the passion he has for the City of Geneva is even clearer. Gramling grew up in a deeply religious family. As he proudly says, “I am a preacher’s son.” His beliefs, but also his desire for others to follow their own compass is something that sets him apart as a government official. Gramling discussed the challenges of acclimating himself to public life. Admittedly, he said there are ups and downs — but overwhelmingly, his job as councilor-at-large in the City of Geneva has yielded him a great deal of respect and admiration from those he represents, as well as his peers.
On Inside the FLX, Gramling discussed the impact that the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Award, which was bestowed on the City of Geneva earlier this month in a presentation that caught even the councilors by surprise. “It was surreal,” Gramling explained. “We got the email and I thought ‘Is this for real?!'” The email was real. It was very real. Especially for the individuals on City Council who worked so hard to make it a reality. He was quick to credit those who worked tirelessly to put together a plan, which would draw the attention of those officials in New York who made the decision to make Geneva a winner. As he said, though, the work has only begun — and without the vision, and confidence of Geneva City Manager Matt Horn — none of it would have been possible.
For as positive as his experience in office has been to this point though, there is much work to be done. Gramling said he is learning more about his culture by the day. He spends ample time communicating with those he represents, listening to their concerns, and working to be the change that he wants to see in the world. That was a lesson taught by his father at an early age. Gramling explained that one of the primary messages that his father taught him was to be the change you want to see in the world — instead of expecting that change to just happen. “Change isn’t going to happen the way you envision it unless you go out and cause it,” he explained. One thing for certain, Mark Gramling has a long, long political future ahead of him. As long as his interest remains — there wouldn’t be anything stopping him from continuing to be involved in Geneva for many years. Right now he holds the title of being the first African American City Councilor elected in Geneva. If he continues on this path though, he could be adding the lines “First African American elected to Mayor’s Office in the City of Geneva,” to an already impressive resume.
Check out the entire interview from this week’s episode of Inside the FLX in the video player above.