He always kept candy in his pocket. Patrolman Norman E. Record was posthumously honored on August 30, 2021 when the city he’d served for so many years commemorated their town square in his name. Was it because he walked the beat in Middleboro Massachusetts for nearly 25 years or was it the Purple Heart: the most enduring Presidential honor ever bestowed upon the military? A Sargent in the Korean War, perhaps it was the service medals he’d collected on the fields of battle, or was it his civic service to clubs like the Elks, Eagles and Kiwanis? In the end, legacy is reductive. We tend to be remembered for just one thing.
A mere 48 hours lies between now and Election Day 2021. The curiously “first Tuesday following the first Monday in November” is the very cornerstone of American democracy, and 40 mayoral candidates across the nation have thrown their hat in the ring. From Boston to St. Louis, Atlanta and Santa Fe, four common themes have emerged along the way; the coronavirus pandemic response and recovery, crime and public safety, criminal justice and policing, and homelessness and housing policy. Though many officeholders and candidates are affiliated with political parties, in most of the nation's largest cities mayoral elections are officially nonpartisan. That’s right. The Founding Fathers never intended the United States to be a democracy but rather a republic — a state ruled by representatives chosen by the people — so that the people could govern themselves.
To the Republic For Which It Stands
If a republic is “a state ruled by representatives chosen by the people” they do so in accordance with a constitution, and a bicameral obstacle course of checks and balances. Elected representatives are instructed to establish justice, ensure tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty. In its essence, the preamble to the U.S. Constitution was the war call of our founding fathers and the job requirement of U.S. lawmakers. However, it is “We the People” who've been commissioned to “form a more perfect union.”
As a greater Boston Police Officer, Norman E. Record walked the beat for nearly 25 years keeping an eye on local schools, businesses and community centers. But his true passion was to see children safe, local business owners thrive, and to serve and protect the town square. Community Policing was the original form of law enforcement in the United States; which focused on developing an authentic partnership and personal relationships with its citizenry. In fact, early Colonial Policing relied exclusively on citizen volunteers, watch groups, and a conscription system known as posse comitatus; everyday people mobilized by the conservator of peace.
Having lost his battle with COVID-19 earlier this year, the town of Middleboro Massachusetts recently renamed their historic four corners for the man who once walked their proverbial beat. For a man who shuttled the seniors around town — at a day and time when he himself was a senior — reminds us that Record’s Corners is effectively one place in America where the public and private sectors meet.
A Place For All Seasons
With nearly 30 years of experience in the financial services industry, James Record ostensibly followed a different path from his father. In the private sector, Record served as Chief Compliance Officer for corporations like Thomas Weisel, and subsequently as Vice President at Wachovia and Wells Fargo. “But my true passion was always community service," Record admits, "most of which I saw and learned from my Dad.”
Benjamin Franklin may have founded the first volunteer firehouse in 1736, but after 15 years of volunteering with the Middleboro Fire Department James Record admits to wondering "why weren’t we ever paid?" For a town incorporated in 1669, why were essential services like police, fire, and rescue staffed by more volunteers than employees?
While studying economics at Northeastern University, he soon learned that volunteerism is the cornerstone of city planning. Economies are driven by goods and services, and society by the noble men and women who quilt the patchwork of culture. The American Red Cross, Underground Railroad, and United Way were volunteer-based organizations that stitched an experiment with democracy into a nation. They are and remain the hallmark of America’s Civic Life.
As the country cycles through its own seasons starting with a dream (freedom) to getting organized (U.S. Constitution) to making it (prospering) to becoming an institution (wealth) we have before us a choice: select a path of inclusion or risk closing in.
A Community For All People
As an Alter Boy at the Sacred Heart Church, James Record remembers learning about a “city on a hill” and that America was a beacon of hope to the world. All volunteer-based organizations are driven by heart, and he’s earned his stars and stripes in Lake Park: A Community For All People. “The economy, healthcare, education, civil rights and COVID are on all our minds,” says Councilman James Record, still going door to door just days before the election. “We must meet people where they are.”
Part and parcel to his patrol, Norman E. Record was Middleboro’s Truancy Officer. He was reputed for always finding the kids cutting class with a caveat. In lieu of reprimand, he’d deliver them back to school with a smile on his face, a wink in his eye, and always give them a stick of gum. In fact, he was beloved by the youth of Middleboro at a day and time when community policing set an example for the common welfare. For them, military accolades and public service were subtext. He was revered for his authority but remembered for his kindness.
As the holidays approach, James Record says “peace comes from having a neighbor close at hand and joy from the community we serve and share.” Come what may, Councilman James Record stands committed to an idyllic community, a shinning city on a hill far and beyond the crusades of Election Day.