From time to time, Staples High School graduates run for public office. Some do it in Westport; others, wherever they’ve moved to.
Few of them want to serve in Bridgeport. Ras Omari does, and for a very good reason: That’s his hometown.
Growing up there — when he went by the name Omari McPherson — he attended local schools. But he was selected by lottery for the Open Choice program. He got up early every morning, and was bused to Staples High.
He nurtured his love for recording, film and web development there. But after graduation in 2004, he majored in mechanical engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
He added a master’s in marketing and technology innovation. In 2010 Omari joined Verizon’s Network Leadership Development program as an engineering project manager.
In his spare time, he worked as a photographer and videographer.
Feeling stifled and unfulfilled by his career path, Omari left corporate America. In 2014 — with his wife Juliana and newborn son — he moved back to Bridgeport. His journey of self-discovery and entrepreneurship was underway.
Today Omari is the founder and director of Vizier Media, a digital marketing consultancy specializing in “thought development, creative direction and content engineering.” He’s a dedicated husband, and father of Shiloh and Kaya.
And now a candidate for Bridgeport City Council. His 131st district includes downtown, the South End and part of the West End.
Since returning to the Park City, he told Lennie Grimaldi’s great “Only in Bridgeport” blog, he’s realized it holds many hidden gems, waiting to be uncovered.
He stayed away from the city’s famously notorious and messy politics. But — hoping for insights into local issues — Omari attended last month’s City Council candidates’ forum. He was “uninspired” by both the dialogue, and the quality of candidates on stage.
He asked himself why Bridgeport is — and has been — run the way it has, for so long. After digging deep into the budget and downtown development projects, Omari realized it was time to step up.
He launched his write-in campaign.
“I believe this city’s turnaround hinges on a new generation of leaders who are thoughtful, productive and can come up with tangible solutions to problems,” he told Grimaldi.
“Politics in Bridgeport don’t have to mean the same ol’ same ol’. The ‘Write-in Ras’ campaign is about putting the power back in the hands of the people, and side-stepping the machine.”
He does not want to fight “pettiness.” He aims to “inform, include and inspire a new generation of artists, entrepreneurs, and bright young professionals to take an active role in the future of the city.”
Tomorrow, Staples’ former Open Choice student hopes to give Bridgeport voters an open choice too.