Saturn’s Repository recently learned that free speech advocate Phil Davison no longer serves in the Minerva Village Council. According to a brief mention in the Canton Repository in August, Davison, who just last year received the nickname “American’s Councilman” decided not to seek a fifth four year term to the seat. He could not be immediately reached for comment.
Davison, who had served in the council as a Republican since 1997, is best known for the passionate speech he delivered to the Stark County Republican Party while unsuccessfully seeking the party’s 2010 nomination for county treasurer. Though the speech likely made Davison the most well-known village councilman in the United States, Davison had informed Saturn’s Repository in 2013 that he suffered politically as a result of the speech.
“Many in my hometown were angered after I gave the speech,” said Davison, “as [if] I somehow violated their codes or belief systems. I am to be seen and not heard.”
Davison, who had faced the prospect of his first election since his speech, referred to his community’s reaction as “bizarre thinking.” It is unclear whether any of this contributed to his decision not to run for re-election.
Aside from the speech, during his tenure, Davison took a sensible and responsive approach to governance:
When the issue of property vandalism came before the council, rather than seeing it like his contemporaries as an enforcement issue, Davison focused on the underlying cause of the vandalism: youth’s “idle time.” When an historical hotel was slated to be destroyed, Davison acted upon the concerns of his constituents and framed the matter as an obligation to preserve history, emphasizing, “If we lose our history, that’s our identity.” The hotel still stands. When a noise ordinance was proposed, Davison raised concerns nobody else considered such as the individual rights of residents, and “how noise will be monitored, who will do the monitoring, and how much will it cost to train people to monitor.”
Davison summed up his political method in a 2009 interview with The News Leader, “I try to be around and talk to people and listen to what they say and incorporate their ideas and get back to them when they have an issue . . . I consider it an honor and a privilege to serve our community.”
On what he hoped to accomplish, in 2010, Davison remarked:
If one person would get up and do something different, like go to a village council meeting or go talk to a neighbor about getting an improvement in water, an improvement in sewer, an improvement in fire protection or police protection, then I’ve done something worthwhile . . . I encourage everyone to run for office and go out and question the people who are representing you.
Davison is currently mulling a potential Libertarian Party run for President of the United States in 2016.