In the midst of this season’s highly polarized political atmosphere, Albion’s own Dr. Andrew French is running for the mayor of Albion.
French, professor of chemistry, already has his foot in the door of the local government due to his service on the city council. It is here that he has had an inside look at the city and its mayor.
“I am currently a member of the Albion city council and in the last two years of serving in that capacity I have noticed that our current mayor does not seem to have, in my mind, the best interests of the city at heart,” French said.
French feels that the mayor micromanages certain parts of his job and is too lax on others.
“The mayor’s job is to oversee the budget, oversee the council meetings and to be the cheerleader for the city,” he continued.
Although he has been involved with the town for nearly two decades, French did not immediately decide to run for mayor. Instead, there were many people he knew and respected around town who specifically asked him to run.
“That’s who I’ve been in Albion these last 15 years, the guy who steps up.”
No one can dispute French’s involvement in the city. He moved here 15 years ago for his current teaching position, his children attended Albion public schools and he is active in his local church.
French is also the president of the board at the Kids ‘N’ Stuff Children’s Museum downtown, president of the Albion Community Band and co-creator of the Albion Community Gardening Program which seeks to expand urban gardening in the city.
“I think people like Andy French have a broader perspective on what needs to be done to improve the town for everyone,” said Dr. Geoff Cocks, professor of history and resident of Albion for 37 years.
Cocks, who used to play basketball with French, said, “I think he’s a bright guy and he’s been very committed to working in the town.”
There is a noticeable divide between the city of Albion and Albion College and French seeks to bridge this gap. He spoke of the contrast of young college students and the more mature townspeople.
“How do you get rid of these perceptions?” French asked. “You have to bring people together.”
French believes that the mayor should invest more face time into the college.
“I think the leader of the city of Albion has to be there, be present,” he said. “I have no difficulty engaging the college because I am part of the college.”
The job market is especially relevant to the city of Albion. French’s position as president of the board of Kids ‘N’ Stuff ensures that he meets regularly with many local businesses. He believes that gaining firsthand knowledge is essential to expanding the local job market.
French is also aware of the local perception of being a college professor.
“The city of Albion is divided on its attitudes about the college and me, so what I’ve been focusing on is not that I’m a Ph.D.-carrying Chemistry professor, but that I’ve been a member of this community for 15 years,” he said. “I have a stable job and children in the community.”
He supports interaction between college students and the town by encouraging students to volunteer in the city and to shop in the stores downtown.
French is not a college professor trying to take over the town. Rather, his job as chemistry professor is simply what brought him to Albion, his home.
“We have to move forward and bring people together, not because it’s good for me, but because it’s good for everybody,” French said. “You’re looking to elect somebody who is passionate about the city.”