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Ohio 2018: Meet the Candidates; Reception of Hispanic Heritage Month; Fundraiser for Cleveland City Councilperson Brian Cummins

On Wednesday, October 11th, we went to the City Club of Cleveland to hear former Ohio House of Representatives member Connie Pillich (Democrat-28th District in Cincinnati area) speak about her views and her campaign to be elected the next Governor of Ohio in 2018. This was the third of the City Club's "Ohio 2018: Meet the Candidates" series that we have attended; the others featured former Ohio State Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni (Democrat) and Ohio Lt. Governor Mary Taylor (Republican).

On this day, Ohio State Rep. Pillich said that job creation was her number one priority and the avenues that she would follow would would include enhancing our educational system to create a qualified work force, rebuilding our infrastructure not only in terms of road and bridges but high-speed internet too, encouraging start-up firms including those involving manufacturing and renewable energy. She also addressed the issues of health care, education (including college debt), and the need for government to stop serving "special interests" and focus on the needs of the people.

Along the way, Ohio State Rep. Pillich emphasized several times that Ohio already has the tools to accomplish all of this but what it lacks is leadership and she believed that she was the one to provide it due to her experiences as a U.S. Air Force officer, an attorney, a businessperson, and as a legislator which have all contributed to her acquiring the ability to make tough and sometimes painful decisions.

What made this City Club forum especially unique is that Ohio State Rep. Pillich only spoke for a few minutes and then used the rest of her time to have a conversation with audience members which touched upon such topics as the environment, funding cuts to local government, divisions within the democratic party, womens' health, tax breaks or increases, and gun control.

To be sure, we asked Ohio State Rep. Pillich about plans to encourage more immigrants to settle in Ohio and she said that on a federal level, immigration reform was very sorely needed and has been for a long time. She went on to say that we need to be aware of immigrants' positive impact on our communities and praised Governor Kasich for his defense of the dreamers although she did not agree with him when, in November of 2015, he said that he didn't want the federal government to place new Syrian refugees in Ohio.

Surprisingly, the turnout at the City Club was quite low for such an important forum so we got to talk to quite a few of the few attendees including former Lyndhurst City Councilperson Marty Puin and Mr. Seth A. Richardson, politics reporter for "Cleveland.com". We enjoyed sharing a table with Ms. Jewel Moulthrop and Mr. Bill Lavezzi who are both seasoned City Club goers.

In addition, we got to talk to Mr. Dillon Jiang, President of "MegaLight, Inc." who immigrated to the United States from China years ago with the help of Ms. Margaret W. Wong. Mr. Jiang told us to be sure to say "hello" to Ms. Wong on his behalf.

 

Later on Wednesday, we met Dr. Jorge E. Gatica, Ph.D., Professor and Graduate Program Director in the Department of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering at CSU, who had also been helped by Ms. Wong when he and his wife, Norma, immigrated to the United from Argentina in 1992.  We encountered Dr. Gatica at the Hispanic Roundtable's Convention/Reception of Hispanic Heritage Month at the "Spanish American Committee" on Lorain Avenue where we were greeted warmly by our good friend Mr. Jose C. Feliciano, the Chairperson of the Hispanic Roundtable and his daughter, Ms. Rebecca Feliciano.

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We would have liked to have stayed for the entire program that would feature speeches by such distinguished leaders in Cleveland's Hispanic community as Ms. Magda Gomez, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Tri-C; Ms. Ramonita Vargas, Executive Director of the "Spanish American Committee"; and Ms. Diana Centeno-Gomez, Deputy Branch Chief Aeronautics and Ground-based Systems, System Engineering and Architecture Division at "NASA" but unfortunately we could only stay a short while.

We did visit with Ms. Magda Gomez for a few minutes and she told us of a very promising program regarding Latino Immigrants in Ohio that was scheduled to take place at Tri-C the following evening. We also talked to Ms. Mylene Perez from Cleveland Heights who was very concerned about what is taking place regarding the rapid, perhaps unfair deportation of the undocumented. Along these lines, she was a good friend of a young, undocumented person from Guatemala and had learned a lot from him about the pressures now placed on people in his situation.

As we were getting ready to leave, we conversed with Ms. Antoinette Torres-Regula, M.Ed. the Child Care Director at "Little Footsteps" located just a few blocks away that offers a special bilingual program to small youngsters which is great by us because research has proven that the younger a person is the better the chances of her/him mastering a foreign language. Ms. Torres-Regula invited us to stop by sometime soon to observe the positive things that are taking place at "Little Footsteps" and we very much intend to take her up on her offer.

The other event for the day that we had to hurry to get over to was a fundraiser for Cleveland City Councilperson Brian Cummins (Ward 14) put on by the Cleveland American Middle East Organization (C.A.M.E.O.) at "Kan Zaman" the Middle Eastern Restaurant on West 25th Street.

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During his address, Councilperson Cummins talked about how their experience in the Peace Corps contributed a lot towards making he and his wife, Gayle, very sensitive about the needs of other cultures. He then talked about how much he liked to work with C.A.M.E.O.'s president, Mr. Pierre Bejjani on matters in Cleveland pertaining to its Middle Eastern community and was always available to do so even if the people involved do not actually live in his district.

According to Mr. Bejjani, among the things that the Councilperson has done is to ensure that Middle Easterners obtain their health care they need from Cleveland's presigious medical institutions and to counsel businesspersons about laws and regulations pertaining to their endeavors. Mr. Bejjani went on to praise Councilperson Cummins for making himself available for co-chairing Lebanon Day coming up in November.

Overall, though, Mr. Bejjani said it all when he exclaimed, "Brian, you have been a good friend to us and to our community and we support you wholeheartedly!"

 

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

 

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