When Noble Wray speaks, people will listen.
Noble Wray didn't stay out of the public eye for very long. Several months after he stepped down as chief of the Madison Police Department, one of the best forces in the nation, he has taken on the job of interim president of the Urban League of Greater Madison.
He succeeds Kaleem Caire, who resigned at the beginning of the month. Caire earned my respect for courageously taking on the Madison establishment and forcing us to come to grips with our complacency about race, particularly as it plays out in our public schools.
I wish Caire had continued in his role with the Urban League, but Noble Wray is an inspired choice to succeed him. Where Caire could be a flame-thrower, Wray is a consummate consensus builder. If I learned anything about the man in my eight years of working with him, it's that Wray will push the envelope without ever breaking it.
A man who has navigated the treacherous Madison waters of race, crime and community relations for decades, Noble Wray comes to the Urban League with an unmatched set of credentials. When he speaks, people will listen.
Which begs the question, if Wray can succeed in the crucible of the Madison Police Department and in the civilian world of the Urban League, than why shouldn't we consider encouraging him to lead the entire city?
I am becoming increasingly concerned that no one will step forward to give us a clear choice in next April's mayoral race. That contest should always be a chance to debate our direction as a city, to ask ourselves if we want to focus on the past or imagine the future, if we want to grumble about our cruel fate or work to overcome our challenges.
I know Noble Wray well. He's the kind of guy who could give us a fresh perspective, a new start and the chance to dream of better things ahead. I wish him success at the Urban League and beyond.