“We can’t call you the First Gentleman, so we are going to call you the First Dude!”
Darrell Toby to Ed Byers on wife Treva Hodge’s election night victory
A few elections ago the wife of an incumbent mayor e-mailed me to ask what I thought the week before an upcoming election. My response regarding her candidate-husband was straightforward, “I think right now the voters are 51%-49% and I am not sure which candidate is 49 and which is 51!” That is much how I viewed the last election for mayor in Charlestown. I figuratively speaking predicted Treva would get the 49%.
When I first heard she was running for mayor of Charlestown I literally had given her zero chance. After hearing so much about her and in some cases things wildly exaggerated, I decided to meet her for lunch. There were two reasons I changed my mind that day. One was Treva. The other was her husband, Ed.
Ed Byers is the kind of guy I take to right away. Unpretentious with a small town personality and attitude, yet way more accomplished than a first impression might indicate. He spent a career in various levels of law enforcement to include things as varied as forest ranger and Federal Air Marshal. He is the guy whose first job was at the Texaco Station on the square and who worked his way through Purdue University.
During our day together and after we shared the Copper Kettle breakfast, Treva had to excuse herself for a hair appointment that had been prescheduled. I thought it was kind of funny when she talked about that very prominent skunk streak in her long hair. She humorously credited her hairstyle for part of her success on the campaign trail as it stood out as a prominent feature. Who knows what works and doesn’t work in politics these days?
As Ed and I continued to stroll from the town square to their very comfortable and homey porch, we shared time together and discussed many subjects. He told me how he had consciously stepped back during the campaign and allowed his wife to make her own way to seeking the office. He was an adviser, “She listens to my advice. Sometimes she takes it and sometimes she don’t. She always listens.” I tend to think that is way less about politics and pretty normal for a married couple. I am not sure whose idea it was for the new Mayor to ride a route on a garbage truck.
He tells of a day when there was nobody available to man the phones at City Hall so he volunteered. “I accidentally hung up on a couple of calls because I was not familiar with the phone system!”
Ed’s political anecdotes extend beyond local politics.
On a flight one afternoon he saw a lady, who appeared to have indulged in a pre-flight drink or two, approach a gentleman seated in First Class. She somewhat indignantly told him she wanted to sit in his seat. His response was something like, “Madame Secretary, you know who I am and why I am assigned this particular seat. Also in the way you approached me, you might have very well blown my cover.”
That lady was Hillary Clinton.
Ed can likely relate to the former first lady as he fills the role of dutiful “First Dude” of Charlestown, giving his wife leeway to be the mayor she wanted to be and promised to be, but always there to lend support.
Ed is finishing up his dissertation (as many know Treva recently became a PhD) on a subject that is now extremely topical: police shootings and use of force. He tells me he has watched videos of over 129 police shootings analyzing the commonalities and peculiarities of the incidents. He wants to try to formulate a different training response for situations that ended in tragedy. “Police have very little time to make a decision!”
His career has included such stops as working at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, telling people the story about our country’s rich history and beginnings. He eventually shifted into U.S. Customs as a special agent charged with stopping movements of narcotics across the border, relaying that his first day on the job included a bust in which 1,400 pounds of pot was seized.
He told how he was the very first federal agent to secure a telephonic federal warrant from a judge. He went to Charlotte, North Carolina, after requesting hardship transfer when a family member was ill, which found him investigating “white collar” crimes. Then 9/11 happened and there was a request he join the Federal Air Marshal program.
It was actually some physical training injuries at the age of 54 that sent him into retirement, and for the last year has just been letting his wife, Doctor Mayor Treva, get all the attention. However, the unassuming quiet guy in the background is planning to step back into public service in a very big way.
Ed Byers will be running for Clark County Sheriff in the next election.
I guess the best Mayberry moment of our morning and early afternoon that culminated with porch sitting and people driving by honking and waving was when a friend stopped her car and approached the house. She called out a name; Ed said she’s inside and the lady walked in the door. Ed looked over at me, “Where else are you the husband of a Democratic Mayor and a Republican comes to your house to pet your dog?”