Writing from Downtown Ventura, Monday, Aug. 5, I just received the call from your wife, partner, comrade, about your passing.

What can I say … … …

So I was thinking about you and your presence in the Ventura civic scene. I remember your white shirts and red? suspenders and bright white hair. I remember your towering presence. I remember thinking of how you were navigating being on both sides of the political spectrum.

I think of our last conversation by your hospital bed when you divulged why you changed from Democrat to Republican, saying you couldn’t get support when you tried to run for office so long ago. You were reluctant to share this confession of yours. I understand, dear friend.

The past is the past, as everyone always says. But you were a fierce opponent to cultural norms, by being engaging, considerate, reasonable while maintaining your opinions. Too bad you never were a team player. You were just Neal Andrews, a man of faith and Ventura City Councilman for nearly 20 years, mayor for one, during the Thomas fire that nearly killed you with double pneumonia. 

You were a voice for the homeless when others wanted them moved along, out of sight. You understood responsible fiscal policy and the weight of taxation, and you understood that few things in life are fair.

You are not gone, simply moved on.

Times are a changin’.