I was born and raised in a loving family on the southeast side of Chicago near the steel mills and oil refineries that once sprawled across that region.
I was a member of a Cub Scouts troop and a WEBLOS troop and developed an affection for the natural world from exploring local, undeveloped areas; local county and state parks and the surroundings of the tiny town in rural, central Indiana where relatives lived.
As a boy and young man, I participated in many organized and informal athletics. In high school, I was captain of my swim team. During those years, I also served as vice president and president of my church youth group.
I earned 130 credit hours in the landscape architecture curriculum of Purdue University. While attending college, I lead and participated in a variety of ministries of my church, served as a sextan (live-in custodian) for three years and held a variety of leadership positions including head elder.
Throughout my work life, I have done many things. Following are some of the most substantial and interesting among them. For seven years, I worked as a contract designer, draftsman and technical illustrator for architects and engineers in a wide range of professional disciplines throughout greater Chicago. For twenty-three and one-half seasons, I worked in most sectors of the landscape industry for a number of companies in the Chicago area, in Indiana and in Colorado. For seven of those years, I owned and operated an environmentally friendly landscape maintenance company in the Chicago area. For three of those years, I worked in a sign shop during winter months. For five years, I worked in various building trades and as a handyman in Indiana and in Florida. For one year, I worked as a leaded glass designer and builder in a neighboring city in Indiana while attending college. For three years, I worked as a wardrobe consultant in two men's clothing stores, one in a neighboring city while attending college and one in Florida. For three years, I worked as a conductor on an antique tourist railway in central Florida.
While still living in southeast Chicago, I frequented the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and the contiguous Indiana Dunes State Park where I spent weekends running trails and working tirelessly to build support among beachgoers to stop pollution of the adjacent waters of Lake Michigan. I served for three years as a board member of the Grand Calumet River Task Force, a regional river restoration organization that had representation from smokestack industries, local governments, environmental regulators and environmental organizations. Over many years, that organization effected some improvement in the Grand Calumet River, one of the largest tributaries of the southern end of Lake Michigan.
REFORM PARTY INVOLVEMENT
When Ross Perot ran for president, I served as a member of the Steering Committee of the Reform Party of Indiana and chairman of the Reform Party of Lake County, Indiana. I also served on the Environmental Plank Subcommittee of the Platform Committee of the Reform Party Of the United States Of America. I successfully lobbied the delegates to the national convention to adopt the environmental plank of our subcommittee—a statement that emerged verbatim as I wrote it from our seventeen-member, broadly distributed subcommittee after seven months of online discussion.
Concerned about proposals for ships offering high-stakes gambling off our shores on Lake Michigan and about consistently grim findings of independent studies on gambling, I helped organize and lead a large issue campaign to oppose a ballot initiative to legalize unlimited-stakes casino gambling on gambling ships in the waters off northwest Indiana. The name of our campaign was S.O.S., an acronym for Save Our Souls. Our campaign failed, so gambling ships have been operating from three ports in northwest Indiana since the ballot initiative.
Less than a year later, I co-founded and helped lead another, large, issue campaign to prevent our county commissioners from placing on a ballot a ballot initiative that would have instituted a county income tax to finance the construction and indefinite operation of a stadium in Gary, Indiana for the Chicago Bears. That organization was This S.T.I.N.C.S., an acronym for This Stadium Tax Is Nothing but Corporate Subsidy. In the end, we collected the more signatures on our petition to prevent placement of the ballot initiative on the ballot than any others had gathered on any petition in the history of our county and defeated an "undefeatable" consortium of interests that included the entrenched and "all-powerful," patronage, political machine; an association of huge, smokestack industries; the regional planning council; all of the chambers of commerce in the region; all of the local trade unions and the regional, investor-owned utility. (Incredibly, that was the second, massive, non-utility-related, public-private project in which the general manager of the utility had involved his company. The previous one was a proposed-but-never-built, third, Chicago-area, international airport.)
WORK AND INVOLVEMENTS IN RURAL, NORTH-CENTRAL FLORIDA
I came to rural north-central Florida, to a city located seventy miles south of Gainesville to live with my father after my mother died. For three years, I helped him run his small, retirement-community directory publishing business, Private Community Directories, part time while I worked concurrently as a conductor for the Orlando and Mount Dora Railway part time. That was an antique tourist railroad that last had the name, Florida Rail Adventures, before disincorporating in 2009. During the years that I lived with my father, I continued participating in triathlons, and, for three seasons, I served as Coordinator Of Children's Triathlons for CFT/SommerSports, a central-Florida endurance race management company.
In 2002, while still living with my father, I served as Issues Advisor, Communications Director and County Campaign Coordinator for the county in which I lived for the Brian Moore For United States Congress Campaign. Mister Moore ran as an independent. Through active and smart campaigning of my leading, my county was the only county in the Congressional district that covered all or parts of seven counties in which Mister Moore won. In his next campaign in the following Congressional race, when he ran as a Democrat, I served as his Issues Advisor.
ARRIVAL IN GAINESVILLE
During a trip with friends to Gainesville, I discovered that Gainesville and Alachua County had many great natural and cultural qualities. Eventually, after my father died, I moved here. I worked for two and one-half years throughout Alachua County as a carpenter's helper and as a handyman.
For two and a half years, I lived in two western states. In the first state, I worked for a year and a half as a residential sales representative for Green Mountain Energy, the largest provider of renewably produced electric service in the country. I was often the highest performing sales representative. In the second state, I worked as a horticulturist for a landscape company in a ski town for a season. I maintained the landscapes of the rich and famous and the landscapes of local businesses.
RETURN TO GAINESVILLE
Four years ago, I returned to Gainesville. To earn money while I sought career-track work, I worked for fifteen months, until the middle of 2011, as a cab driver. To gain repeat and word-of-mouth business and to make my transportation service interesting and entertaining for my customers and me, I developed Chocolate Cab, an "info-choco-tainment" service. I became a transportation pioneer by offering the first and only cab service in Gainesville that was carbon neutral. To be environmentally responsible, I purchased a carbon credit to offset the carbon and other air pollutants that my cab emitted for one year. Since the owner of a local cab company fired me during the summer of 2011 for refusing to participate in fare fraud, I have been preparing a business plan to establish a high-quality, honest and environmentally friendly cab service in Gainesville.
After the murder of a drug-addicted sex worker downtown--just eighty yards from where I live--and since a homeless man attacked me in my neighborhood and left me with a deep gash under my eye, I have been working as a neighborhood organizer spearheading grassroots efforts to revitalize my neighborhood, the Near South Neighborhood, located between downtown and the developing Depot Park located southeast of South Main Street and Southeast 6th Avenue. Working simultaneously with my neighbors, with downtown business owners and managers and with the board of directors and managers of Saint Francis House social service center, we have substantially reduced crime and nuisances in our neighborhood and have significantly improved safety and sanitation in Saint Francis House.
INTENTION AND PERSONAL TRAITS
My purpose in life since my teens has been to become all that I can be while helping others become all that they can be while together accomplishing the most good possible in the world. I have always sought to engage, encourage, enable and recognize others.
My life's mission since my early twenties has been to plan and to help establish sustainable communities.
People have described me as a doer because I take initiative to do what needs to be done without waiting for others to ask me to do it.
I am a truth seeker and a truth teller. I am not afraid to ask questions or directions. I am not afraid to talk about hard-to-discuss subjects. Because I want information and understandings that are as accurate as possible, I welcome and eagerly seek accurate, current and clear information, and I am eager to change my views or positions when new information or changing circumstances prompt me to do so. I readily admit that I have been incorrect when I am convinced that I have been incorrect. I am more concerned with getting things right than being right or popular. I have always sought to clarify and explain things for others, and I am good at doing those. Because of those talents, people sometimes ask me if I am a teacher.
I have always sought to work as collaboratively and collegially as others allow. I have always sought to contribute to and exploit the collective information, ideas, knowledge, wisdom and creativity of the groups of which I have been a part.
Were the citizens of Gainesville to elect me, I would work professionally and positively in the modalities described above with colleagues and citizens to make Gainesville the best that it can be.
I am single and have never been married.
I am healthy and ready to work to create and exploit opportunities for Gainesville while addressing the challenges of our city.
AVOCATIONAL INTERESTS AND INVOLVEMENTS
I have always taken seriously my citizenship responsibilities, my duties to be informed and involved in my governments.
I keep current on governance matters from the local to the international levels by regularly reading news, information and analysis articles on news, political and advocacy Internet sites and and by reading e-mail dispatches from courageous and well informed journalists and advocates. I attend lectures and presentations at the University Of Florida on governance and social subjects by imminent scholars, authors, journalists and statesmen.
For more than fourteen years, I have been sharing through e-mail political dispatches and economic dispatches of my composition with about four hundred friends and acquaintances vital political and economic news, information and analysis of generally national and international issues. Most of those dispatches are in the forms of action alerts as I have been providing channels for taking action to address the concerns that I raise in the action alerts.
I enjoy trail running and multisport races (e.g. triathlons and duathlons); playing guitar at olde tyme, folk, bluegrass and mountain music jam sessions (amateurishly but enjoyably); attending folk music festivals; viewing music videos; organic vegetable gardening; playing freestyle Frisbee and making the world's best cornbread.
The following video presents Mark informally engaged in one of his favored, avocational activities, food gardening.
Mark recognizes that good nutrition improves health, well being and mental and physical performances.
Mark is a strong advocate for personal and community food production to improve nutrition, to reduce food costs and to increase food security. Mark strongly supports programs that enable residents, especially low- and no-income residents, to grow their own food. If voters were to elect him, he would work for expansion and enhancement of those programs through public-private partnerships.