There’s No Place for Racism in Cincinnati – Matt Teaford for City Council

Prior to the abolition of slavery in 1865, Cincinnati was a pivotal city in assuring freedom for slaves escaping the tyranny of plantation life in the south. The site of one of America’s first multi-ethnic movements; it was a vital spot at the terminus of many underground railroad lines.  For many, the sight of Cincinnati meant that they were no longer property: they were humans.

For this reason, we’ve erected the Underground Railroad Freedom Center at the heart of our riverfront: a constant reminder of how influential our city was for so many in that time of great injustice. Given the current political climate and recent events, I believe that it’s of the utmost importance to remind many of my peers of our significance with the hope that we never allow for a rally filled with hateful rhetoric; especially one based on ethnicity.

Did you know that our physical appearance only accounts for around .01% of our genetic makeup?

Now, just think about that for a second. That’s our entire physical appearance, too. This means that less than .01% of who we are as humans is based on skin pigmentation. Even if you’re someone who favors science over history, the proof is in the numbers. We’re all so, so similar, and not so different in the grand scheme of things.

I’m writing this because, frankly, I am ashamed of many of my peers. Being a white, male figure in the community, and one who wants to represent citizens from a diverse array of backgrounds, races, creeds, and religions, it falls on me to call out ignorance-fueled racism from people of my own race. Knowing that so many involved in the hateful acts of Charlottesville came from our region, I cannot stress enough that there is no place in Cincinnati for such hatred.

My grandfather fought fascists in WWII flying the same symbol of hatred that some adorn their clothing with today. The world would be a much scarier and hateful place had he not. The lessons of history are all-too-obvious if you look close enough. Regardless of whether I’m elected or not, you can rest assured that I will fight tirelessly to ensure that Cincinnati is welcoming and that hatred, especially blatant racism, never rears its head in our city.

Cincinnati Must Solve Our Food Desert Crisis

Matt Teaford – Candidate for Cincinnati City Council

 

Here in America, you’d think it would be easy to find nourishment in most neighborhoods surrounding major cities, but that’s not the case. Instead, it’s always easy to find fast food and liquor stores, but rarely can you find supermarkets and fresh produce in many inner-city neighborhoods. In these same areas, many of the children and families worry about having food on the table and many suffer from the effects of undernourishment as a result.

Recent cuts in human services and education from both the state and federal levels only aid in increasing the threat of childhood and family hunger in my home city of Cincinnati. Currently, we face 11 neighborhoods with food deserts and no plan to address the issue. One such food desert used to be in Clifton, but was recently resolved with the opening of Clifton Market – a neighborhood co-op that was invested in by the area’s residents. Today, there are shoppers whom use Clifton Market on a regular basis for their groceries, and it’s been an incredible journey to watch.

With that being said, there are a ton of neighbors within Clifton whom don’t live below or at the poverty line and have the luxury of being able to invest in a co-op like this. There’s no getting around the fact that many of the neighborhoods where food deserts exist are already battling systematic poverty, so it’s hard to imagine them being able to spare the necessary resources to get off the ground. We need to get creative.

My proposed solution involves providing heavy tax incentives for companies whom choose to open shop in these food deserts, creating more sprawling urban gardens which are backed by city redevelopment, allocating resources to human services and food pantries, and also offering incentives or matching power to those neighborhoods that would like to follow suit in creating a co-op like Clifton Market. When there’s a serious threat to the quality of life of the innocent and downtrodden in our city, we have no choice but to act.

While we can’t guarantee that no one in our city will go to bed hungry at night, especially our children, we can make sure that we are doing everything we can to make sure that the future of our city is one with a generation of children whom had the opportunity to succeed and didn’t become victims to the harsh effects of undernourishment. I will do everything in my power to combat this issue and I hope you’ll join me in doing the same.

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Agree that we need to address our city’s food deserts immediately? Consider contributing to my campaign so that I can lead this fight from City Hall at the link below. Thank you!

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Medical Marijuana Must Become More Accessible in Ohio

Matt Teaford – Cincinnati City Council Candidate

It’s 2017. The first full head transplant is going to be attempted later this year, we have medicines that can help to prevent the spread of HIV, and we no longer have to worry about some of the deadliest diseases in human history thanks to the sustained efforts of enlightened minds in the scientific and academic communities. Yet we’re still arguing over… a plant.

Not just any plant, though. This plant is one that has now been proven, by a number of university studies from around the planet, to alleviate pain, but without the addicting side-effects of many prescription painkillers. While it has a long and well-documented history of being on the wrong side of the law, most of that is tied into both racism and, well… ignorance.

While I could go into the long and ridiculous history of the plant and the laws against it, I won’t. I don’t want to focus on the past anymore, but the present and future of understanding for it. What we now know is that the legislation that made marijuana a Schedule I drug was built on a foundation of racism and sent more people to prison for non-violent crimes than ever before. We’re still seeing this today.

While the subject of full-blown legalization is another topic in itself, and I am an advocate, I want this to be about the fact that there are so, so many uses for this plant when it comes to treatment. It’s been used for glaucoma, epileptic seizures, chronic nerve pain… the list goes on and on. There have actually been cases of citizens leaving their homes, the places they love, to find alternative treatment via cannabis in more medically-advanced states. It’s happened right here in Ohio, and that’s embarrassing.

Not only that, but it’s also been used by veterans to alleviate the effects of PTSD following their service to our country. There are so many people who could benefit from easier access, but instead some who served our country could be thrown into prison simply for seeking treatment. To have autonomy over one’s body is the purest of liberties… where are our priorities?

As if we need even more proof, cannabis has been proven to be non-addictive, meaning that unlike many wonderful surprises from major pharmaceutical companies, you don’t run the risk of dependence by using marijuana for battling your ailments. Considering accidental overdoses are killing an unprecedented amount of Americans every year, maybe it’s time we invest in something that no one overdoses on, but still cures the ailments nonetheless?

I hope to serve as an elected official in Cincinnati next year after I win a seat this year. Although Ohio recently passed the resolution to allow access to medical marijuana, the red tape is popping up everywhere before the first store opens next year in 2018. Knowing we come from a state with serious opioid addiction and heroin overdoses, we can’t afford politicians milling around while others continue to die. I will be adamant in my push for easier access for medical marijuana to the people of our city because they deserve better options. The quality of life for many in our city could drastically improve, and I want to help that happen.

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Yes, Opening Day Should be A City-Wide Holiday in Cincinnati

From Matt Teaford

Tomorrow morning, masses will descend upon Downtown Cincinnati adorned in red; ready to usher in a new season for the team that started it all: The Cincinnati Reds.

In 1869, the Cincinnati Red Stockings became the first professional baseball team in America. Only four short years after the Civil War, baseball became a permanent staple for our city. In 1890, the team got into hot water for breaking the “rules” of the newly-formed National League for serving beer at games and playing games on Sunday? Let’s face it: Could there be anything more Cincinnati? Who did the league think we were? Pittsburgh?

The truth is that baseball is a part of our identity as a city. Players from all across America say that there’s nothing quite like Cincinnati’s Opening Day Parade and festivities, and they’re right. Every year, regardless of the weather, hundreds of thousands swarm downtown to get involved with the festivities. Some reports suggest that 1 in 4 professionals from Cincinnati’s companies take off to take part in the activities, and it really isn’t that surprising. The impact of this influx of people to the city are all too apparent, too.

The crowds spend and they spend big. With masses of people comes revenue, and the city would be wise to capitalize on that fact. Considering the fact that so many call off to attend and the history is so deeply rooted in our city, we should look to our policy makers to declare Opening Day as a city-wide holiday so that everyone can take part in one of the proudest days for our city on an annual basis. In doing this, they will increase revenue for the city. There are some who will say: “Well, what about the people who work at the bars and restaurants downtown? Wouldn’t they want to take off, too?” As someone who has had many friends tending bar at large-scale events, I can tell you this: They won’t have a problem staffing the businesses. Employees know when the money will be good.

I’ve been to hundreds of Reds games in my short 24 years of life. I know how much the team means to our city. I’ve never seen a championship, but I’m a die hard fan, and always will be. I long for the day when every citizen in Cincinnati has the same opportunity to embrace the experience of Opening Day with all of their neighbors so that we can bond over the thing that we all love and know: baseball. Oh, and a quality Cincinnati beer. It is Opening Day, after all!

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Agree that Opening Day should be a city-wide holiday? Consider donating to Matt’s campaign at the link below! Thank you!

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Cincinnati Needs Elected Officials Who Are Willing to Learn

You know the problem with most contemporary politicians? They like to grandstand without putting forward the effort to learn the science and details behind what they say they’re trying to fix. As we’ve seen time and time again, this leads to failed policies that generally tend to make the problem even worse. In truth, if our elected officials took the time to formulate strategies with people who have spent their entire careers researching subjects such as transportation, public health, and crime prevention, we’d all be much better off.

We have to remember this when we go to the polls on election day. 

We need elected officials who will work to bridge the gap between the political world and academia; the exact place where research is happening that will better our city. Politicians who turn their backs on science and studies that have proven conclusive care not for the well-being of others. In the past politicians have favored big business, such as the tobacco industry, while denying the truth behind the science. The same thing is happening today with climate change. We must not allow people whom chose to remain ignorant to the subjects that are the most imperative to our city to represent us.

There will be no change to the heroin issue if we don’t understand the science behind it. There will be no change to our childhood poverty rate without understanding the data behind it. These issues directly impact life and death for some in our city, and we cannot risk having politicians in office not willing to learn more. I’ve already taken on the task of speaking with so many professionals from different fields so that I may better understand. I hope other candidates will break the status quo and do the same. Otherwise, we’ll never be able to solve these problems.

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Yes, We Really Do Need to Save PBS

It’s recently become apparent that PBS is no longer a priority for certain members of our congressional and executive branches. I have to say… this is making me a real grouch.

All jokes aside, Sesame Street was a vital part of my childhood. I learned quite a bit watching it as a kid. I even had a Big Bird blanket that I used to wrap around myself like a cocoon before I went to sleep every night. You could say I was a pretty big fan, but I wasn’t the only one, because my parents loved it too. Instead of being trouble and rooting around, my parents could count on me to spend time watching my friends on Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers in the afternoons because they knew it meant they could get some time to chill out. I would argue it was some of the only time they’d get to relax during those days. After all, future politicians never shut up when they’re kids.

It’s deeper than this, though. It wasn’t just the fact that I was learning valuable life lessons from Mr. Rogers and my parents could catch a break from my chaotic youth. It was the fact that it was an affordable option for me to be able to tune in to and learn after school was over. It came standard with the rabbit ears back before everything was digital. It was there for every family to watch, regardless of their socioeconomic status.

My time with PBS didn’t end as my childhood came to its conclusion, either. I found myself getting lost in the likes of NOVA as I fell in love with science and truth in my adolescence. I dreamed of stars and distant lands while watching. It made me want to understand the complexities of our planet and beyond. It allowed me to keep dreaming as I grew up. Even after my parents found themselves in a better financial situation and we got cable, I would still set aside the time to watch this show every week. Reflecting on all of the enjoyment I’ve gotten from PBS over the years today, as I run for office, I can’t believe that the funding should ever be in question. So, although he has since passed, I’m going to take the advice of an old friend and share my thoughts with you…

The truth is: This is petty. The funding for PBS takes almost nothing out of our wallets as taxpayers, but it gives so much to our society. I was one of the kids who watched PBS growing up. I was one of the adolescents dreaming of space while watching NOVA. I’m still the one who watches the Antique Roadshow with my parents from time to time. I was lucky to have PBS when my parents were going through hard times and couldn’t afford cable during my youth, and there are still many families struggling to make ends meet. They rely on PBS for programming that educates and enlightens them at all ages. We cannot justify spending increased money on bombs that intend to harm while we cut programming that intends to educate. As a civilized society, we have to keep pushing to learn and enlighten others. PBS has been an outlet for enlightenment for so many and we will set a terrible precedent by cutting its funding.

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A Glimpse Into Cincinnati’s Irish History

While I am running for Cincinnati City Council, I’m also a huge history buff: especially with Cincinnati and American History. I love stepping into the past to learn about what the path looked like along the way to make our city what it is today. This St. Patrick’s Day, I’d like to provide a window into the past of our city to share what it looked like when the first wave of Irish immigrants rolled in, in the 1840’s.

As it was with many other cities in the country, the massive wave of Irish Immigrants, which nearly tripled the city’s population, was met with resentment from Cincinnati’s population at the time. Signs reading “No Irish Need Apply” hung in storefront windows. Many of these new immigrants came fleeing from Ireland’s potato famine only to be met with the uncomfortable reality that their children may still be suffering without food to eat.

Nevertheless, they worked. Taking the unpleasant jobs that no one else wanted, many of them worked in a backbreaking effort to build the Miami and Erie Canal, worked on the railroads, and later formed militias to serve in the 10th OVI regiment in the Civil War. The same immigrants who were forced to come to America in famine, work the worst possible jobs simply to survive, and persevered through the hate they were met with became an essential piece in holding our nation together during the war without gratitude.

Today, we drink green beer to celebrate the “luck” of the Irish. Some of us go a step further and celebrate the day to pay homage to our own Irish heritage. Regardless of which category you find yourself in, we in Cincinnati owe it to many of the city’s Irish-American ancestors for their perseverance and service to holding our country together. So, at some point today, when you raise a glass to cheers, keep in mind all of the turmoil many Irish immigrants faced in America, and celebrate their overcoming this adversity. Our city’s vibrant history is coated with sweat from the crimson brows of the working Irish, and we should not forget that.

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Believe in preserving our city’s history like I do? Donate to my campaign so we can continue the fight to do so at the link below. Thank you!

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I Will Stand with All of Cincinnati’s 52 Neighborhoods

Last week I went to an event supporting Sayler Park Sustains, an organization geared toward educating and empowering its festival-goers to bring DIY sustainable practices into their daily lives. I was taken aback by the dedication that this organization and its followers puts forward in inspiring others to live more eco-friendly. I came to see the bands performing, but left with a newfound respect for the organization as a whole.

I bring this up because I’d argue that many Cincinnati natives rarely drive past Sayler Park. Tucked away around the bend of the Ohio River to the West of downtown, it’s the furthest expanse of the city on its Western side. In fact, unless you live in some of Cincinnati’s other neighborhoods, such as Mt. Washington, California, and Carthage, you’ve probably rarely passed them. Yet they’re all still housed within the confines of our beloved city.

Unfortunately, when you look at recent actions taken by City Council and the City Manager in creating the budget and allocating funds, it would seem that many of them don’t seem to frequently visit the neighborhoods that most people drive around either. A quick look at the city’s budget shows the full tale. Go ahead, hit “CTRL + F” when viewing the budget and see how often the neighborhoods of Sayler Park, Mt. Washington, and California are brought up.

Yep, that’s right… none. Despite the fact that these neighborhoods account for around 4% of the entire population of the city, they get a combined 0% of the budget to allocate to beautification and development. On top of this, city council voted to approve a streetcar that benefits two neighborhoods while brushing off the METRO system that services all of the neighborhoods as it faces an upcoming budget crisis.

This isn’t rare, though. It often seems that the budget caters to only a couple of Cincinnati’s neighborhoods while leaving the rest out in the cold. In fairness, a lot of people moving into our city don’t want to live downtown, and would rather reside in the city’s suburbs. Our budget should reflect that we care just as much for neighborhoods on the edge of our city as well as those up-and-coming at the city’s core. I promise to be fair in considering allocation for resources so that ALL of our city’s neighborhoods get the attention they deserve.

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There’s Something Missing in Cincinnati Politics: Accountability

What do the Metropolitan Sewer District, City Council, and countless other local political boards all have in common? They’re all lacking serious oversight, transparency, and accountability.

Just yesterday, I was talking with one of my constituents, Gregory Tewksbury, about his concerns regarding a recent Hyde Park “flood” that resulted from backed up sewers. The result? Millions of dollars in property damage. One local art gallery owner even lost priceless pieces during the flooding; pieces of history that cannot be restored. While the MSD did set aside $16 Million to fix the damages for store owners and residents across the city, many of whom cannot get flood insurance in that location, there hasn’t been anything done to address actually solving the issue at hand. This means that if another torrential downpour comes our way, there may be another catastrophic blow to the properties in the area.

This isn’t an isolated event, though. The MSD hasn’t been held accountable by any measure of late. They’ve been spending hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars without oversight; making deals with contractors without negotiation. Everyone loses when there’s no accountability. The longer we keep letting this open wound bleed out, the longer we allow our city’s quality of life to depreciate.

This lack of accountability doesn’t stop at the MSD, though. It spreads throughout our entire city’s infrastructure. If our $25.1 Million dollar budget deficit, despite the city’s recent economic development, doesn’t spell it out for us, then nothing will. The system that keeps tabs of spending is aloof, not very taxpayer-friendly, and never showcases the completed project. How can we expect to hold our elected and appointed officials accountable if we can’t even easily access the information? We can rarely tell who ordered the execution of a project and even more rarely see the direct impact the city’s investments have had. We deserve better.

As a member of Cincinnati City Council, I will bring all of the issues to the forefront. I won’t bail on community council meetings for donor events, because informing the voters of this city is what every elected official owes the people whom vote for them. I will not pander for your vote during election years and then disappear. I’ll be everywhere, and you’ll always get the bottom line. I will make sure that a new system uses better data to track our city’s projects and expenditures so that every voter will know exactly what they should. I will not waver in this dedication to transparency and accountability, and you should expect it from everyone you vote for.

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This International Women’s Day Means More

A couple of months back, I attended the Women’s March on Washington. I found myself in awe while participating in the protest. I’d never seen so many people joined together outside of sporting event: a fact that’s pretty ironic in itself when you think about it. I wrote an article about my experience, which you can find here.

While in our nation’s capitol, prior to the event, I overheard a couple of older men say in our group’s general direction that “men weren’t acting like men” on that particular day. I was incredibly baffled by the sentiment. What exactly did he mean? Should I be discouraging women to stand up for themselves? Should I be telling them to get back in the house? Let men continue to make every decision for the other half of the human population?

No.

In fact, on this International Women’s Day, I’m going to do the opposite. As a male politician running for office, I’d like to use this post to empower and encourage my women counterparts to run for political office. I’m proud to come from a city where we have a woman on the ballot in the mayor’s race: Yvette Simpson. I’m proud to be running with a wonderful group of women for a seat on city council including Tamaya Dennard, Amy Murray, Christina Burcica, and so many more. It’s women like you who are going to inspire young women to step out into the spotlight and proudly stand for their beliefs. We need powerful women like you jumping into the political realm. Know that your voice, your resolve, and your passion for driving progress for the cause has not only resonated with me, but that I am your ally. Regardless of where we stand on the issues, you inspire me. I will always stand with you to both protect and fight for you rights as we move forward.

Because a “man acting like a man” means empowering those around him and fighting to protect the beautiful diversity that makes our city, nation, and world so great. I will always stand by that.