Why I’m Running for Cincinnati City Council

Matt Teaford

I’m twenty-four. I look across the river from my home state of Kentucky at a skyline that seems familiar, yet distinctively different from the last time I’d sat in this seat; the same one I’d been sitting in for years in my time of reflection. What I see in front of me is a city filled with vibrant color. When I first sat on this bench in Covington Landing, at the age of five, I saw something much different. There was only one stadium, fewer parks, and even fewer people on the riverfront at night.

A cacophony of colors from across the spectrum kept rippling upon the Ohio River in a distinctive pattern. What I was looking at was none other than Smale Riverfront Park: one of Cincinnati’s newest, and most impressive, additions since I first laid eyes upon the city. People were rocking back and forth on its swings while others rode past on bikes. The city was bustling in a way that I had never seen before.

Just a few days before I had ridden the streetcar for the first time. It took me through the heart of OTR and back up to the Banks; featuring all of the most incredible economic progress that our city has made over the better part of the last decade. Washington Park had families from diverse backgrounds and the kids were playing together in jubilation, Is this what it felt like to be in a city on the rise? I couldn’t help but crack a smile looking across the river. Look at how far we had come.

Yet, in the back of my mind, I couldn’t help but wonder: While all of this progress had been made in a couple of Cincinnati’s neighborhoods, who was getting left out? While we spent so much time arguing over a streetcar that won’t even be a proven investment for at least a couple of years, what should we have really been focusing upon? Truthfully, the statistics speak for themselves.

The Bottom Line

It’s apparent that our progress as a city has come at a price to many. We’re facing a steep budget deficit, we still owe millions of dollars for Paul Brown Stadium, nearly half of Cincinnati’s children live below the poverty line, we still have schools that graduate fewer than 75% of their students, and we set a record for heroin overdoses in a single day just last year. As someone who’s lost his brother to an overdose, and seen families battling with addiction all across the area, I believe this should be at the forefront. Yet we continue to argue about a streetcar.

We have a bridge that’s about to fall in, I-75 is still under construction, the Western Hills Viaduct is bowing, city council voted to cut funding from human services and economic development funds… should I go on? Yet we still can’t seem to stop talking about the streetcar.

To top it all off, there’s no real accountability for where our money is going after the taxes are collected. If this is their idea of “transparency” then they clearly have no idea what it means to be transparent. There has to be someone reasonable in office to hold others accountable. That’s all there is to it.

My Vision for Cincinnati

I’ll be the first in saying: I don’t think there’s a city in America that’s better than Cincinnati. We’re already great, but there’s so much work to do. I don’t hate the streetcar. I just don’t believe we’re focusing on the right topics. We need to spend more time focusing on the things that really matter.

My vision for Cincinnati is simple: Invest in our children, schools, those suffering, and stop wasting money on projects that never come to fruition. I want us to continue investing in small businesses, startups, and accelerators that bring jobs to the area and continue stimulating the economy. I want to set party politics aside and work together so that we don’t play a childish game of tug-o-war where every citizen loses. As an Independent, my main goal is to take care of our citizens first. That’s it. I don’t care about high dollar donors. I don’t care about power. I don’t care about aligning with a party. I simply want to make life better for all of our city’s neighborhoods and residents.

I believe in Cincinnati. I’m running for City Council because I know that I’m actually here for the people. I won’t be a faceless politician who panders for your vote. I’ll be someone you can count on and trust, regardless of the political ideology you come from. I’m ready to sit down and work together with everyone. I’m ready to keep working to make Cincinnati greater than it already is.