A Matter of Life and Seth
Catching up with Mr. Bernard
Do you remember that experience of being on the cover of Allegany Magazine? Was it a good one? My experience was pretty surreal, like I imagine most peoples would be. It was funny because my friends gave me a good bit of ribbing, which was expected. But ultimately, it was great because my family was extremely proud of the cover, and it was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
What do you remember most about it? Mostly, I remember the night I was asked to be on the cover. I had just been at the photo shoot to be featured within the issue and I received a message asking how I would feel to actually be on the cover. I was speechless.
What are some things you have been up to since we last caught up with you? I was only a few months in to my first term as City Councilman when my cover came out. It’s now been over five years, and I am currently in the middle of my second four-year term. Although the cover feels like yesterday, I consider the experiences I’ve gained, in the meantime, to be a lifetime’s worth. I almost feel like I’m a different person than the one wearing that Superman shirt. Not that I had any inkling at the time, but I now understand that it takes an awful long time to enact positive change in a community that has been hurting, and in the dark, for so long. I am optimistic about Allegany County, and it’s going to take many more young people to step up and act.
What is something you've been doing that people might be surprised to learn? I’m not sure if this is surprisingly to learn, but I work for IBM in cyber security on a very large government cloud project. It’s actually very interesting work and I feel very fortunate that I was able to have been able to get in this field. And despite being an elected official, I’m actually a pretty big introvert. I get really anxious with the thought of speaking in public or being seen by a large audience. Ironic that I ended up being on the cover of a magazine…
What is it that you would love to do next? My wife, Jewel, and I would love to open a business. We talk about it all the time, and we have a plethora of ideas, but we’re truly waiting for that right moment. In 2014, for example, we had both pledged to do something “big”, or outside of our comfort zone; hence, my move to run for City Council. That following year, Jewel started a car rental company. The two of us are in no short supply of motivation, but opportunity is what we’re constantly hunting.
Do you still feel a connection to Allegany County? Of course! Over the last 5 years, I have become closer to Cumberland than I had in the previous 28 years. I don’t necessarily know where my family and I will be in another five years, but I can tell you that I will continually feel a certain kind of ownership for this place. The whole reason I sought a position on City Council was simply to make Cumberland a better place to live. Like most people in this area, you grow up constantly hearing negativity from others about Cumberland – I believe that’s pretty standard fare for rural communities. But if I can change just one or two minds, whether by improving neighborhoods and facilitating a new business, or by expanding someone’s view on the world around them, then I feel like I’ve succeed.
What do you think it takes to be a future Allegany Magazine cover story? Always be trying to make a positive impact on your community. Even if you fall short of your expectations, someone out there might be inspired by your drive to succeed. I never thought for a second I would be able to do what I’ve done, as it relates to City Council, where victories of progress are difficult to come by; but I’m trying as hard as I can to sow the seeds for future generations to continue to push this community forward.