Margaret Novicki and her son, Tom
Orange Democrats held their caucus at High Plains Community Center on Tuesday, July 18.
Following is Margaret Novicki’s son, Tom’s speech nominating her for first selectman:
Hi. My name is Tom Ndiaye. I’d like to briefly tell you all a little bit about Margaret Novicki, my mom. There’s a massive pool from which I could list off nothing but positive traits about her. However, I’ll choose three categories to highlight, in which she far excels: her devotion, her belief in democracy, and her caring.
Now, Margaret Novicki is devoted. As one might be able to gauge from talking to her, our family lifestyle has been, well, unorthodox to say the least. She worked for the United Nations for the past 22 years, and I was born only two years prior to the start of that. Resultantly I’ve been moving around from pretty much the get go. We left our Brooklyn home for adventures beyond the Atlantic when I was only five. She was in all different countries, fulfilling any and all roles required of her, dutifully. From heading the UN information centers in both Ghana and South Africa to peacekeeping in Sierra Leone and Liberia, Margaret has always gone above and beyond what was required of her, leaving massive ripples in her wake.
As one may well imagine, it wasn’t easy for a kid, having to uproot, settle, rinse, and repeat every few years. Just as we would start a new chapter in life, things would be over and we’d have to start from square one. To this day, I’ve never lived in the same place for more than five years at a time—I changed schools seven times before even attending university, trading old friends and familiar environments for new ones like baseball cards. There was nothing constant in my life, save for two things: the knowledge that I would have more unknowns coming my way, and the knowledge that my mother would be there to help me face them. The fearless leader of the family, Margaret took it upon herself to be personally responsible for us all, despite her ever-busy schedule. If there was a crisis, even if she was several countries away, the moment wind of it reached her ears, she would be on the next plane home to defuse the threat.
Margaret somehow found a way to fully dedicate herself to both her mission, and her family, miraculously serving no less than 100% to both, which baffles me. There were needs that needed to be met, and she took it as a personal responsibility to fulfill them. That which we needed, and I’m including the UN and the world as “we” here, we received, thanks to Margaret. This brings me to my next point.
Margaret is democratic—let me elaborate on this a bit further. Amidst the political firestorm that rages fiercely through American politics today, the word democrat is thrown around a lot. Sometimes it’s from the pejorative, sneering mouths of our more conservative acquaintances. At other times it’s a stamp—a badge of honor, verbally displayed to vehemently distance one’s self from that other side of the schism.
And it really is a schism more so than a spectrum at this point. Politics being what they are now, we commonly find ourselves in screaming matches, raising our voices louder and louder just to let our voices be heard, let alone understood or empathized with. We all resort to shouting at the end of the day, because we feel that there is no alternative. And the reality is, when everybody is screaming, there are no voices. It’s just noise.
Now, Merriam-Webster defines democratic as “relating to, appealing to, or available to the broad masses of people—favoring social equality.” These traits utterly define Margaret’s approach. Having been exposed to the entire spectrum of human life through her travels, she knows there are people whose voices aren’t heard—they either can’t be heard, or won’t be heard. To the very best of her ability, as far back as I can muster thoughts, she has always spoken out on behalf of those who need it, taking into account every last value and opinion put past her in any given situation. She truly lives up to the word democratic.
It is because Margaret is so caring, however, that she so effortlessly embodies the aforementioned traits. It is this caring that gives her the drive to achieve her ends—a continual compulsion, a love to help those who need it, a love for people, for humanity.
Some years ago, I recall Margaret going on a disarmament mission in a war-ravaged Liberia. Naturally, unfazed by danger, she charged right into the rebellion’s base of operations, a town running close to empty on provisions. A woman came up to Margaret, holding a small baby, no more than three days old, and placed him in her arms. His mother had passed away in childbirth, she’d said, and there was no food in the village to sustain him – no milk, no clean water. He hadn’t eaten since he’d been born, and surely, he would not live much longer. She pleaded for Margaret and her team to take him back to the capital city of Monrovia, his only chance at survival.
Margaret contacted UNICEF, the UN Children’s Fund, frantically asking for advice. She was told that it was against their protocols to take the baby from its family. UNICEF could not be immediately responsible for the wellbeing of a random child. Margaret, crushed, could not bear the thought. She whisked the child away in the UN helicopter anyway, hydrating the child along the flight with water from the cap of a bottle, drop by drop. Calling ahead, Margaret found people in her mission who wanted to help, and who took the baby for medical care as soon as the helicopter touched down. The baby came to be known as the miracle baby of the UN Liberia mission, placed in a foster home where he grew into a healthy child. He was named Blessing by one of the women of the foster house that took him in. He must now be fourteen years old. Fourteen years, no doubt, given to him by the selflessness and caring Margaret showed when it was most needed.
She’s stubborn, oh yes; she’s a fighter. But she fights for what’s right, and she won’t be pushed around. My reckoning is, if she can jump head first into two ongoing wars and come out unscathed, odds are she’ll do just fine in Orange. One could ask for no finer an exemplar of a leader, a friend, a confidant, and just as luck would have it for me, a mother.
And that is why I nominate Margaret Novicki to be the Democratic candidate for First Selectman of Orange.