As he greeted rapturous constituents on Martin Luther King Drive this morning, Frank “Educational” Gilmore shared his feelings and plans for the future.
JCT: How does it feel to be a councilman-elect?
FG: Oh, man, it didn’t really sink in yet. I’m still on an emotional high. I haven’t eaten or slept in nearly 48 hours, but it’s a good feeling, I’ll tell you that much.
JCT: Could you have imagined when you were serving state time that one day you’d be elected to public office?
FG: No, no. I didn’t even know I was going to make it this long, so never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would hold a public office. It wasn’t a plan, it was nothing I thought about, it was so far from my imagination.
JCT: What do your kids think about it?
FG: Oh, my goodness, man, my middle daughter? She’s like a little stickler, so I threw it in her face ’cause she was rooting for Jermaine, and I said ‘I told you I’d win,’ and she said, ‘Dad, I knew all along you’d win; I just wanted to challenge you, and I didn’t want you to become complacent.’ So the kids are ecstatic, my wife’s ecstatic cause she’s seen me face a lot of hardships, so for her to see my accomplish something I set out to do, she’s ecstatic.
JCT: Have you thought about writing a memoir?
FG: Ha, I have not.
JCT: I know you’ve appeared on Ellen DeGeneres’s show. Have you reached out to Ellen yet?
FG: I’m slated to call her this afternoon. Her office has been very helpful during the course of this campaign, calling me, encouraging me, giving me guidance.
JCT: Have you spoken to the mayor yet?
FG: No, not yet though my phone was off yesterday, it was dead, and the backup charger I had was dead, too.
JCT: What happens to the The Learning Center you started and have been running?
FG: The Learning Center grows from here. People have to step up … we’ll bring in a coordinator to run that … we’re going to expand The Learning Center to provide more resources and more space for kids in the community to have an equitable chance at being educated. Nothing stops here.
JCT: Are you planning to run for a higher office, maybe governor?
FG: Ah, I don’t know. What I do want to do is take this time. I don’t want to get caught up in the headlines. I want to take this time to see how effective I can be on the legislation that can help real everyday people.
JCT: How are people reacting to you on the street?
FG: Oh, my goodness, as you can hear, I’m walking down MLK right now, and I haven’t gone a block without someone yelling out or honking their horn or something. Everyone is ecstatic. I’m walking by the police officers, they’re waving. Everyone’s just ecstatic, they feel like it’s a breath of fresh air. It’s about giving people inspiration. So many Americans, the odds are stacked against us. It doesn’t matter what demographic you’re in, this thing called life is extremely hard, and it’s easy for one to feel down given their social constraints or environmental factors or family issues or personal issues. That’s why this is a story to inspire others that no matter what happens in life there’s always a chance to overcome as long as you believe in yourself.
JCT: Are you going to be a full-time councilman?
FG: For the most part, yes. The job is so hard, the ward is so big. We have a plethora of issues.
JCT: Who are you going to look to for help in the new job?
FG: We’re going to have an advisory board consisting of office staff for community outreach and a legislative team comprised of former council members and elected officials.
JCT: Do you plan on remaining an independent?
FG: I can’t say that I will join a slate, for the most part I imagine I will remain independent ’cause I want to make sure I’m always putting the people’s interest first, and I believe being an independent affords you the best chance to do that.
JCT: Do you feel pressure right now given all the hope and trust that’s being put in you by your constituents?
FG: Yes, I feel pressure, and I love it as I perform better under pressure. And, actually I told my people at the rally yesterday, ‘Don’t just go along with me because you’re my friend. I love the constructive criticism. Don’t just agree with me just for the sake of agreeing with me. If I’m doing something that’s not indicative of what I stand for and that doesn’t make sense for the majority of people, call me out on it.’