Phyllis Beard, city director-elect in District 2, was standing at Malvern and Grand avenues this past week waving at supporters. She was holding a giant “Thank You” sign.
“I wanted to thank all my campaign volunteers, supporters, contributors and, most of all, the voters,” Beard said the day after the election. “I especially want to thank all the residents who restrained their dogs from chasing me on my bike.”
Beard prevailed over five candidates: George Pritchett, Cora Jones, Doug Jones and LeDante Walker. She will fill the seat occupied by long-term District 2 City Director Elaine Jones.
“I enjoyed embracing all kinds of voters,” Beard said. “I also reminded them that this was a nonpartisan race and potholes aren’t Democrat or Republican.”
The district overlaps with the former Ward 3 — the ward her father, Elmer Beard, served for eight terms under the City Council form of government in the 1970s and mid-1980s.
“I tried to stay in the background,” the elder Beard said. “Other times, she pushed me in the background. She ran her own race, on her own terms. I’ve never seen anything like it in all my years in politics. I’m very proud of her.”
Beard has worked on several campaigns at the local, state and national levels. “I ran a robust campaign that I’ve always wanted to see candidates run, and I think many residents responded to that campaign,” she said.
One area of experience Beard said she brings to this office is understanding the needs of constituents.
“I’ve learned so much from talking to residents during this election season,” she said. “They shared their concerns with me, and now I can be their voice on the Board of Directors.”
Voter registration was a crucial component to the campaign. Beard was on a mission to register 100 residents before the deadline to vote in the midterms.
“I registered voters at the laundromat, parking lots and community events,” she said. “I even registered inmates at the county jail.”
Despite her efforts, the candidate registered only 63 voters, but the experience moved her to pledge to make voter registration an ongoing effort, during her term in office .
The campaign forced Beard to leave her comfort zone and overcome her resistance to social media. Now she has a Facebook account and YouTube channel (Phyllis 4 City Director). She will continue her social media engagement to inform constituents about issues, encourage residents to be more civically active and highlight the people and businesses in District 2.
“I have a whopping 400 followers on Facebook,” she said with a laugh. “I’m expecting that number to grow.”
In reflection, Beard said she was receptive to the feedback she heard on the campaign trail.
“Some people warned me that I may be too much or too different. Some didn’t know what to make of me, riding around town on an electric scooter. Even my father was concerned about my braided beehive,” Beard said.
“Win or lose, I just wanted to be who I am. I am a product of my life experiences and extensive travels. I’m just glad that enough voters appreciated something a little different.”