Meet Frank Austin. He’s a man with a servant’s heart from Macon, GA. In 2012, Frank saw that his community was suffering. The economy had crumbled. Housing was insufficient. The community was plagued by violence and unrealized potential.
That’s when he decided to take matters into his own hands.
Frank founded the Austin Center for Development, Inc. The organization works on improving outcomes in housing, education, economic development, crime and health. After opening, Frank helped the Village Green neighborhood decrease crime by 50% in a year and a half. He has 11 other target areas of Macon to focus on, but Frank ran into a problem.
There wasn’t enough money in his district allocated for economic development. Frank found that no matter how much work he did, when families didn’t have jobs, his effort was for naught. Frank was winning lifetime achievement awards for his work, but had no money to really turn his neighborhoods around.
Frank needed political capital. He needed to get in office so he could re-direct funds to bleeding communities that needed help.
So, Frank ran. A sixteen-year state representative stepped down with 2-days left in the filing period, and Frank stepped in. Running with one month of experience, he was suddenly up against a competitor who had over thirty years of experience in the political field.
After a tough battle, Frank lost on a technicality, but his legacy and street cred were boosted by the race. Now, he can get more done faster for his community. He can help more people, and raise more money.
Frank’s reason for running highlights why the 10|100 committee is focused on supporting the campaigns of African American’s for public office. Candidates who have black’s interests in mind while in office are a necessary ingredient to creating equity in America.
Could anyone advocate for a constituency group? Yes. Would someone who originates from the group they’re representing have acute empathy for their constituents? Probably.
Black, asian, hispanic, LGBTQ and other caucus groups could have non-black, non-asian, non-hispanic, or non-LGBTQ representatives. But, their strongest advocates come from within their community.
Let’s get them elected.