Let's Talk Lakewood's Future
If we look at elections as conversations, we can see what conversations we want to continue and what ones we want to stop. Local elections are no different. They are community conversations about where the community wants to go in the years ahead, and what it needs to move forward into the future.
There are a lot of conversations happening in Lakewood right now, and as someone who has lived in Lakewood for five years, I recognize certain conversations important in changing the status quo, as the city’s status quo is changing. Conversations about affordability, accessibility, and increasing racial, religious, and economic diversity. There are people running in Lakewood who want the same imperative conversations. There are people running who want certain conversations to stop, not because they have lost their relevance or the issue is exhausted, but because they just don’t like the premise. Now, I realize that I haven’t met every candidate running, (and I would welcome the opportunity to). There are those in city council who are having these conversations currently, and have the respect of their constituency through accountability. Dan O'Malley is an awesome city council person, representative of his constituency. I worry for the future of Lakewood in respect to the other wards and the city's mayoral race.
We all want our interests to be respected and represented by someone to work collaboratively towards solutions that benefit everyone. I value community-centered candidates that follow through by listening closely to their constituents, rooting their policy ideas on constituent feedback, and receiving constructive criticism. I value candidates with honesty and transparency and want to offer community-based solutions to them, echoing their constituents who are asking for it of them.
I see Laura Rodriguez-Carbone and Brad Presutto as community-oriented, community-based city council candidates who listen, advocate, and amplify the voices of their future constituents. I can see that in their voiced concerns about healthcare, affordable housing, public transportation, and in their efforts to increase visibility of marginalized groups in the city who deserve a seat at the table in policies affecting their lives in Lakewood, regardless of population statistics. I believe them to be candidates who listen to the people in their wards, and in the city at large, who would base their policy initiatives on what they hear from the people.
Laura is more than qualified with her record in public service, centered in advocacy work, raising voices up so all can be heard. I personally know through her support of Jewish Lakewood Alliance. She has supported Lakewood by: being a Democratic party precinct leader for 1B for the Central and Executive Committee, serving on the Lakewood Wellness Foundation Task Force, and helping to build the Healthy Lakewood Foundation that centers citizens’ concerns. Laura would be the first Hispanic Lakewood citizen to hold office upon election. I cannot fathom why it has taken until 2019 for this to be a possibility in Lakewood, a city that prides itself as a “diverse” city. I support the conversation that has her candidacy bearing fruit because it's a conversation needed for the city’s future, and a conversation people are already having.
Brad is a supportive voice in making Lakewood a more welcoming and accepting place to live, as evidenced by his inclusive approach to solving our city’s problems. He is actively involved in the Hayes Elementary School PTO, volunteers with the Lakewood Department of Aging, has met racist hatred with love through “Sidewalks of Love” and his support of Jewish Lakewood Alliance. Brad genuinely wants and encourages these types of conversations for the future of the city.
This community-oriented, community-basing equally reverberates with Meghan George running for Mayor. As soon as she was voted as a City Council representative, she made city council more transparent, accountable, and to an extensive degree, approachable. Her initiative to offer paid parental leave for city employees in her administrative tenure has spoken to a community need for a long time and projects for me, a feeling of security to know that she is listening and can put Lakewood on the map in a positive way. Her talents in public service in collaborating with her fellow city council members to make sure that Lakewood becomes a greener, accessible city through supporting solar power alternatives and enhancing the city’s tree canopy is also comforting for our future outlook. She is open to having a dialogue with citizens, and sort through bureaucratic roadblocks by making public records publicly accessible. Furthermore, she has adapted food safety truck standards so local businesses can develop their brand before finding a home in a storefront in the city. It is so comforting not to worry about what is happening in city council because she is there. I envision important work she would do as mayor of Lakewood based on her interpersonal strength as a City Council representative, through these community-centered actions. Her plans for high quality city services, enhanced senior services, fiscal responsibility, housing and building code reinforcement, and preserving city history as a framework for its future would be great for the city coming from the strength of her time on City Council.
The City of Lakewood’s future will be determined by this election. I fear that Lakewood will fall into a future that best resembles a country club/gated community political atmosphere, exclusive to people who want the title but not the job, inaccessible to all but the chosen few. I want Lakewood to be an inclusive, affordable, and accessible place to live where everyone’s voices are heard in policies that affect the city. I see the future best reflected in Laura, Brad, and Meghan. They are having conversations the city needs to have. They want conversations the city needs to talk about.
They may not be the only candidates with that mind, but as a conscientious constituent, I like what I am seeing from them. I don’t want Lakewood’s past, it’s gone and we have only to learn from it. I want Lakewood’s future, and these candidates reflect that future.
I am a Lakewood resident who has written blogs for Tumblr and Turner Classic Movies, and was the Akron Classic Movie Examiner. I would like to write about issues pertaining to social justice issues and how they are affecting the Lakewood community. I believe in the power of citizen journalism.