Congressperson Kucinich's Candidacy Announcement
On Wednesday, January 17th, we went to the Middleburg Heights Community Center on Bagley Road to attend former U.S. Congressperson Dennis J. Kucinich's announcement of his candidacy for Governor of Ohio in 2018.
As we have written before, Congressman Kucinich is an outstanding friend of ours; in fact we used to work for him from 2009 to 2013 (when he left office) before we went to work for "Margaret W. Wong & Assciates" so it was great to be reunited on this day with our fellow staff members Mr. Morris Pettus, Ms. Marian Carey, Dr. Javier Lopez, Mr. Marty Gelfand, Ms. Malak Jadallah, Mr. Luis Gomez, and Ms. Lisa Casini who turned out to show their support for the bold new endeavor of their former boss.
We, ourselves, arrived wearing our old yellow and black "DENNIS!" t-shirt which used to be a renowned trademark. Since many of the people there were dressed in more work-smart clothes, we wondered if we should take off our t-shirt and put on our sports coat but Mr. Frank Wagner, former City Council President from Garfield Heights, urged us to keep it on by saying, "your shirt represents the Dennis Kucinich that I grew up with and loved."
Besides greeting old friends, we had a good conversation about foreign-born people with Councilperson Zack Milkovich of Akron who told us that the Nepalese refugees have really revitalized the the North Hill section of Akron through the buying of homes and the opening businesses as well as having a positive impact on public schools which had been losing many students to charter schools. As we have written before, foreign-born people really appreciate the value of education. Plus, needless of say, Akron's tax base has also been broadened. Councilperson Milkovich told us that he, himself, came to the United States from Yugoslavia at age two-and-a-half with his family back in 1967. He recalled that refugees from Laos back in the 1980's and from Bosnia in the 1990's were also of great benefit to the Akron area.
During the program, we sat next to Ms. Betty Pinckney, the district director for former U.S. Congressperson Stephanie Tubbs Jones and Ms. Catherine McCutcheon who we know from Ohio Norsemen events including the Julefest which we attended in early December.
At about 11:45am Congressperson Kucinich, accompanied by his wife, Ms. Elizabeth Kucinich, arrived and walked to the podium while the song "I Won't Back Down" by Tom Petty played in the background. Soon things started to roll as he was introduced by Middleburg Heights Mayor Gary Starr who spoke of what an asset Dennis Kucinich was to his city and the region during his years as a U.S. Congressperson from 1997 to 2013.
Reverend Dr. Larry Macon, Pastor at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, gave the invocation in which praised the Congressperson for being a "good man" and noted that all of us were indeed fortunate to have him for a friend. Reverend Dr. Macon prayed for his safety and well-being of Congressman Kucinich as he campaigns throughout Ohio.
We all then stood for the "Pledge of Allegiance" which was lead by three local high schoolers. In addition, Congressperson Kucinich asked that room be made for the youngsters in the audience to come forward and join them on stage for the Pledge.
Mayor Starr said a few more words about Congressman Kucinich terming him "tenacious and loyal". He recalled that during his Congressional tenure, the door to his local office in Lakewood was always open to those needing assistance on any government-related matter. To be sure, assistance was certainly needed for Ohio's localities as funding from Columbus has been drastically cut over the last several years. But, as Mayor Starr said, we could bet on Congressperson Kucinich to be there for us during troubled times so now it was our time to be there from him and support his candidacy.
It was then time for Congressperson Kucinich to speak and he was as dynamic and inspiring as we have ever heard him be; we would go so far as to say that he had the impassioned fervor of an old-time evangelical preacher at a revival meeting as he spoke with genuine (to put it mildly) conviction about how corrupt special interests have seized control of our government. Thus, it was time for this to stop and that the people's needs be recognized and dealt with. "Don't say, pull yourself up by the boostraps," he surmised, "while stealing the boots!"
Of course we have heard politicians take this line before, but we know that Congressperson Kucinich has a special knack for bringing people of all ethnic groups, beliefs and backgrounds together to work out constructive and sustainable pathways to a better future. This is at least partially because, as a child, the Congressman grew up in a large family that had to struggle to make ends meet and he worked all sorts of jobs (many of them quite humble) both in his early years and in the years that followed his failure to win re-election as Mayor of Cleveland in 1979 after he went out on a limb when he opposed the sale of MUNY Light because it would have resulted in a monopoly of utilities being created that would not be in the best interests of the public. Eventually, it was recognized that Dennis Kucinich as right after all, so he won election to the Ohio State Senate in 1994 (one of the few Democrats to win that year) and to U.S. Congress in 1996. Of course, he had to stand his ground at times and take extremely unpopular position but, as we see it, he could not have accomplished all that he has without at least respecting and having empathy for those of all mindsets and values.
"I understand insecurity," he maintained and even his detractors who don't generally agree with him on the issues (both democrats and republicans) give him credit for a remarkable personal ascension from impoverished conditions and for standing up for what he believes in.
In the course of his speech, he outlined the specific challenges facing us as citizens of Ohio, if not the U.S., and ways of addressing them. Among the things, he spoke about were sustainable economic development, infrastructure repair, broadband expansion, wages and worker's rights, health care and the opioid epidemic, education and the arts, ecological farming practices, transportation including the development of high-speed rail, and development of renewable energy resources as well as the environmental protection and the preservation of Lake Erie.
(No, he did not mention the need to make Ohio a more welcoming place for all immigrants and refugees but as he was leaving we mentioned this to him and he promised that it would be hereafter included as he kicks off his campaign in other cities over the next few days. Ms. Margaret W. Wong and ourselves have talked with him about issues pertaining to immigration and we know that he is on our side and his actions while serving in the U.S. Congress verify this.)
Congressperson Kucinich termed his platform "a can-do action plan that requires leadership and bipartisan support" and that he would govern with the aim of "inclusion instead of exclusion". He readily acknowledged that government was definitely not the solution to all problems but he knew that it had the ability to "inspire." Personally, he had witnessed miracles happening that weren't supposed to happen like preserving Richmond Heights Hospital and keeping the ArcelorMittal Steel plant open.
When Congressperson Kucinich had finished his speech to great cheers, Mayor Starr spoke once again. Obviously, he was very impressed by the Congressperson's speech as he recalled a time back in early 1992 when he met a young governor named Bill Clinton who was just starting his U.S. Presidential campaign. Somehow, Mayor Starr knew that Clinton would be the next President and he was right. On this day, he was willing to go out on a limb and say that "our next governor will be my friend, Dennis Kucinich."
Once again, Reverend Dr. Macon came forward this time to give the benediction. He prayed that Congressperson Kucinich be given "wisdom and stamina to move forward as a great soldier and great political leader."
Sitting next to us, Ms. McCutcheon said that it was good to see such "a voice of reason and a spirit of optimism".
Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC