Why I Support Tristan Rader For City Council-At-Large
There are so many issues and events happening in this city, and when I moved to Lakewood close to three years ago this October, there was one person I knew who respected people and got around issues and causes that people supported simply because he cares about the community he lives in. That person is Tristan Rader.
Now, I am not going to lie to you, the first time I met him, there was a bit friction between us. This was around the time of the Hospital issue, and while I was involved with Save Lakewood Hospital at the time, I couldn't see eye to eye regarding the tactics used by activists when the cause seemed to appear lost to me. In activism, you might not always agree with the people you work with, and you find ways of centering the cause to overpower your sense of need because the cause matters more to you than the people you work with to advance it. I left Save Lakewood Hospital and stayed away from any involvement because in my opinion, I didn't agree with the tactics being used and didn't feel comfortable supporting some of those tactics. Now, it didn't mean that I had anything against the right of citizens to have a say in their healthcare options. It didn't mean I didn't believe in the cause, but I also felt tokenized and undervalued and people do need to be affirmed in their work especially when they go out of their way. After Issue 64 didn't pass, I had a talk with Tristan about the effort to save Lakewood hospital, and while we disagreed on tactics and their impact, he respected me and where I was coming from to listen and hear me out. I don't know if I allowed myself to be more heard whether that would matter, but Tristan did hear me and I think that's all anyone wants in this world right now. To be heard, to respectfully disagree with each other, and to collaborate on better solutions. A friendship was born in that moment.
Of course, Tristan and I share similar political ideas, beliefs, and we stood together through the Bernie Sanders campaign, the Hillary Clinton campaign, and the creation of the Cuyahoga Country Progressive Caucus for which I am a member, so you might think that when disagreements come, it's the end-all, but in the time I have gotten to know Tristan, and I see his genuine effort to be of public service in communities, I have only admired him more. He took the time to listen when adversities seemed impossible to go through and find human connection and re-center. To me, he is a living example of what a public servant is.
I see it in the Town Halls he has put on which are less about him and more about hearing what the community wants from local leadership to base his future tenure as City Councilperson on. I see it when he stands up for issues affecting the Lakewood community that it seems that other City Council members are too scared to touch, like the police brutality case I've been writing about, the pit bull ban aka I'mWithCharlie, the Nazi vandalism on Belle, the rent increase, the closing of basketball areas in parks, the high rent for storefonts- he is right there. Unafraid to talk about the real issues affecting the real people of Lakewood. I feel affirmed that he isn't afraid to talk about these issues, and he is a person I want on City Council, which isn't to say that there aren't people in City Council currently that aren't doing their jobs well, but City Council does have listening issues that explain their disconnect with the Lakewood public.
There are other candidates on the ballot for City Council at large that are doing what the current establishment way of running a campaign and getting the endorsements and the usual carbon copy. Tristan is doing something different. Rather than get the right endorsements, he is hearing from the people, the first and most important endorsement to have. He gets endorsements from people who get validated by his centering of issues affecting their lives that he thinks Lakewood can improve upon. Rather than do a play it by ear, he is meeting people where they are in their own communities through the town halls and through neighborhood gatherings. Any and about every Lakewood neighborhood event, he is there meeting the people, having conversations and using those conversations as a means to develop policy ideas for his term as City Council member. Those running against him are afraid because of the work he is doing is actually creating an effect that they don't want to see succeed. His back-to-basics approach of who a community leader and a public servant who emphasizes "public" appears upsetting to those who wish they could connect the way he has. But, Tristan is willing to work with those in council and the future council because disagreement or not, he gets work done what needs to be done.
There are things right now in Lakewood that do concern me. I worry that with rent increase, I won't be able to live in Lakewood because of affordability, and I do want to stay in Lakewood as long as I am able to.I can't afford the townhouses that are being built to attract young professionals like me to Lakewood. I can understand the draw of a new building in a neglected space, but gentifrication is real and I don't want to be shoved out of Lakewood because of affordability. Many people feel the same way. I wonder about public services to improve the city. When I went to a Town Hall meeting at Garfield School not too long ago, I mentioned that Cranford Ave has been slow to repair the street and repair the sidewalks. Tristan said that he would talk to the people currently tasked to see that through, and within a week of that promise, I saw construction workers working on the street which is now pot-hole free, and working on the sidewalks making them easier to walk on. I saw something get done.
We need a person in City Council like him because things do need to get done in this city, and issues do need to be addressed. We need someone who is hard-working, people-based, and transparent in our City Council. We need someone who goes out of their way to see a matter get addressed and taken seriously. We need someone who will hear you even when he disagrees with you and advocate for you regardless. We need someone who will truly be a public servant for public service. That person is Tristan Rader, and he has my full support. I hope you consider him in the upcoming local election, and I do hope you take the time to meet him at a public event, call him on the phone, and talk to him. You deserve to be heard by your city representatives better, and he is a person who hears.
I am a Lakewood resident who has written blogs for Tumblr and TCM, 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.