Wu Discusses New Job, Expresses Frustration with “Civilian Dans” in Softball Interview with Herald-Leader

Vice Mayor Dan Wu recently sat down for an interview with the Herald-Leader’s Linda Blackford. The interview was conversational and friendly, with Blackford giving Wu a chance to talk about his new role, and even air out a few frustrations he has with Lexington’s taxpayers.

None of Blackford’s questions were particularly difficult, but based on the responses given in the interview, Vice Mayor Wu seems to be positive and curious, with a touch of frustration at times. He appears to be enjoying his new role as vice mayor and is excited about learning how the city works and how things are run.

This role is interesting, it’s not super well defined. Vice mayor is a misnomer, I don’t work in the administration and I don’t work for the mayor. It should be called council president, but even in that role, different vice-mayors have taken the role differently, hands on or hands off. I am a more hands on model

Dan Wu, referring to his role as Vice mayor

He is surprised at how much of the job is relational, involving informal conversations with colleagues, and how he has had to adjust his schedule to accommodate these interactions. He also shows a willingness to deal with unexpected situations, such as the LexPark issue and the windstorm, and to disseminate information on social media.

How much of this job is relational and how much of this job is kind of all the informal little conversations …like James (Brown) walking by and giving me a note on something we talked about two days ago, us constantly popping by each other’s offices, running things by each other, that’s been really interesting. For me in terms of managing my capacity in my schedule, building in enough gaps in my schedule to allow for all of that kind of informal, constant conversations.

Dan Wu on the nature of his job

He acknowledged the limitations of the city’s resources and the criticism that comes with the job, but he seems to be handling it well and working to educate people about the legislative process. While he admits to being frustrated with the slow pace of government, he seems committed to transparency and building trust with the public.

However, one moment in the interview did come across as potentially problematic when Wu rolled out his new nickname for the unwashed taxpayer of Lexington: “Civilian Dan“.

The only difference there is as a legislator, I want to make sure whatever we do is impactful, enforceable, fundable and not end up being challenged and defeated in the courts or in the states or somewhere else. I want it to be solid. That’s the difference and civilian Dan doesn’t know what all those parameters are.

Dan Wu, referring to working with his constituents

Wu actually has a point here, but referring to taxpayers as “civilian Dan” could be seen as condescending or dismissive, as it reduces individuals to a label rather than acknowledging their individuality and contributions. Additionally, using a term like “civilian” implies that there is a hierarchy or division between those who are part of the government and those who are not, which may not be desirable for a democratic society.

While Wu still needs to learn to speak respectfully and avoid condescending language that could be perceived as belittling or divisive, overall, he appeared to be optimistic and eager to learn and improve.