Vote on (or before) May 7th so we can go on to Election Day in November!
The time to cast your vote in the primary election on May 7th is fast approaching. In fact, you can vote early by mail or at the Board of Elections (at the County Administration building on the Square) between 8am and 5pm on weekdays until April 26th, from 8am to 7pm on weekdays through May 3rd, from 8am to 4pm on May 4th, 1pm to 5pm on May 5th, and 8am to 2pm on May 6th. I want to give you my assessment of the options before you in the Democratic Primary for City Council.
COUNCILMAN BILL COST
Mr. Cost has served on Newark City Council for two terms after first being elected in 2011. He is also a small business owner, offering professional photography services that are pretty good quality. Full disclosure: he – as an in-kind donation to my campaign (something he offers all Democratic candidates) – did my headshots back in 2015, and they turned out great. Anyways, Bill has always made it a point to listen intently when citizens bring their opinions to him in any setting. Whether or not he winds up voting the way you want him to is another matter, and one in which he and I have had our disagreements (for example, on banning Breed Specific Legislation). Moreover, Bill is one of few members of City Council who I know will show up to public events when he is invited. For example, he was the only Councilmember to show up out of everyone in City Government that I and my grassroots activist group (the “Licking County Progressives”) invited to the inaugural “Democracy Day” event in 2017. Cost is also respectful and tries to maintain a civil tone, as he sees there is more to gain from working together than in a constant state of conflict.
Those are the things I like about Mr. Cost’s personality. On policies, we have a few more areas of disagreement, but I am appreciative of the fact that he advocates for a downtown store to fill the void left by Lil’ Bear’s closure. I appreciate his attention to the need for affordable housing – though his lack of support for rental licensing (registration) during that discussion a few years ago gives me pause -, and he appears sympathetic to the plight of homeless citizens. The question, though, is how hard is he willing to push for these causes in addition to Newark’s other growing concerns after gaining reelection when he has ample opportunity to advocate for such now as a sitting member of Council? As the old commercial used to say: “where’s the beef”?
I respect the man and his years of service. A lot can be said about his devotion to decorum in Council Chambers and in his general conduct as a man who tries to respect others even in moments of sharp disagreement. Everything that is good about Cost should be emulated by everyone else in this race and everyone who aspires to run in the future. Then again, I believe that the time has come for new leadership in our city. While I don’t believe in term limits, I believe that two terms on City Council is where the people of Newark should seriously consider shifting gears so as to make way for new ideas so that we can leap forward together instead of stagnating or even declining as a result of not embracing the new. It would also be beneficial to make way for new members more willing to challenge the status quo in the interests of the people.
Seth is a bright young man. I first met him at a Democratic Club meeting early in 2017, wherein he became my very first signature for my candidate petition as I ran for school board. He, again, signed for me this time around and I happily returned the favor. He is always kind and quick to extend his hand to mine whenever we see each other. We may not agree on everything, but I genuinely like Seth.
At campaign-related events and meetings, he speaks well about low barrier housing. I have confidence that Seth would make a good member of City Council. His youth may seem like a hindrance, but I don’t see it that way. Age doesn’t determine whether or not someone is good at their job and I am ready to see what Seth has to offer the people of Newark. When I cast my primary ballot I voted for Seth, because I have faith in his potential. Having said that, I will note that he could be a little more forceful in standing up for the things in which he believes. He does make it a point to attend as many public meetings as possible and he listens intently. However, there is value in using one’s voice to speak out, especially when you aspire to represent the people. I believe that Seth can improve in these areas and that is why I support his bid for City Council.
I can say so much about my dear friend Jen. She ran for Newark City Council Ward Three in 2017 and came very close to getting elected. After that election loss, which broke her heart, she had resolved to spend as much time as humanly possible with her daughter, Olivia. Jen is a nurse and has been active in politics just for a few years, and her activism is how I came to meet her in 2016. She had a passion for justice on behalf of the impoverished which drew me to her. Additionally, Jen was one of a handful of people who worked tirelessly to help me in my unsuccessful school board bid in 2017 and I credit her efforts for helping get me as close to winning as I did.
After she came up short in the 2017 campaign, she met with another common friend of ours and formed the Newark Homeless Outreach. Every Saturday morning since this effort was established in early 2018 they have reliably served the needs of Newark’s homeless and have likewise been stalwart advocates for the same. Jen was perfectly content with this wonderful volunteer work and would likely have never run for office again if it weren’t for two things: me relentlessly pestering her to join me in running for City Council throughout the past year and her daughter telling her to run.
Jen Kanagy is not running for city council for fortune and fame. She is in this because there was a group of people (even beyond Olivia and I) who believed in her unquestioned service to the betterment of others so much that they all begged her to run at one point or another since her last effort. I absolutely trust this woman to serve all of us to the best of her ability. She is a genuine champion of the working class and is not one to sit down and shut up at any point. If she sees some kind of injustice, she is on the frontlines to call it out, and she isn’t afraid to ruffle anyone’s feathers (including leadership within our own party) in her pursuit of what is right.
I proudly voted for Jen Kanagy, because I believe in her and I know she will be a great servant for the people. It is my hope that you will cast your vote for her as well.
I’m a proud member of Newark’s working class. I have a long work record extending back 18 years since my mother first made me find a job when I was about to turn 16. In that work record, I have worked in fast food, as a janitor, in warehouses, in factories, and now in retail. For two years of that record I struggled after I was laid off as a janitor when I spent ten months unemployed desperately looking for full-time work and then settled for being a temp worker.
Working as a temporary contractor was one of the worst experiences of my life. As a father of two children, I had to worry every single day about the phone ringing, because it was often a call from the temp service telling me that my assignment was over. Most of my assignments lasted no more than two months. Then, I would spend up to a week or even two weeks frantically calling the four or five temp services where I was signed up looking for the next assignment all the while trying to seek a reliable job, providing for two children, and finishing my college education. Anxiety was a major part of my life during this time and my health paid a price for it.
Security of some form came for me when I was hired on at my current job, working for a local grocery store. They were willing to give me a chance when no others would. Still, for the first couple of years there I had to deal with the torment of being part-time with hours fluctuating between 20 and 30 hours with each week. My determination to make sure my children were taken care of led me to make myself among the most reliable and hardest working employees at the store and I am proud to say that the hard work paid off with a series of promotions to the point where I am now full-time and working as a key-carrying manager.
The primary lesson I have taken from my work history is the value of stability that only a living wage, full-time job can offer. The city of Newark is sorely lacking in access to this essential part of life in a community. Our officials are too quick to praise any kind of job creation without assessing the quality of the job and the ability of Newark’s citizens to realistically get ahead. Too many barriers to progress go ignored by the people making decisions – from passively accepting as sufficient the creation of low-paid, part-time, and temporary jobs to passing the buck on dealing with our desperate need for public transportation – and they do very little to address the decline of our infrastructure, the depletion of our safety forces, and the abuse of slumlords.
We have so much work to do and I am ready to work with whoever is serious about building a Newark for All. That’s why I voted for Seth and I am beyond excited to have worked hard to get Jen on the ballot alongside me. If I am the only one of us four running on the Democratic side who gets elected, I will still tirelessly and proactively work to deal with every issue addressed here (for more details, feel free to visit my issues page or even send me a direct message via email or one of my social media pages). Furthermore, it doesn’t matter to me if a good policy is proposed by a Democrat or a Republican – which are distractive labels that should be abandoned via a nonpartisan election system -, because I will work to ensure that all of our best ideas are promoted and put into effect.
If you stand with me I will not let you down. When I set my mind to something I work as hard as humanly possible to see it through. I did so when I resolved to finish my college education after my mother passed. I have done so since life threw me another curveball which forced me to provide as a single father. I have done so to demonstrate my dedication in the workforce. Now, I am prepared to do so as your loyal servant, if you will have me.
So, let’s do this. Join this campaign and make it a movement to grow together, build together, and give our children and grandchildren the best version of Newark which will truly be for everyone.
Thank you and remember to vote on May 7th (if not beforehand) in the Democratic Primary!
Candidate for Newark City Council, At-Large