Napkins, TOMS, & Unity Assists

Last Tuesday I got a call from the Hamilton County Board of Elections (BOE) saying that Team Moroski was 46 valid signatures short of the required 500.  We turned in 783 signatures on August 12th.

After receiving the news, my wife, Katie, simply walked up to me as I sullenly placed my phone on the table.  Being more perceptive and aware of my own feelings than I am, she did not need to be told that the news I had just received was not good.  We sat in silence for no more than one minute when she broke the ice.  Quite directly, and with passion in her voice, Katie asked, “so, what do we have to do?”

“Start from scratch,” I told her.

She looked at me and said, “go get ‘em.”

I called my Campaign Manager, Nick Tilly, and told him the news as I rushed down to my car to swing by UPS to get copies of the BOE’s petitions. On the way I called a couple of other Team Members and supporters asking if they would be willing to take petitions.

“We have one week,” I told my supporters on the phone, “one week to get over 1,000 signatures.”  1,000 signatures was my self-prescribed goal.  Nick & I immediately created a goal for just the two of us – 500 signatures by Sunday, August 18th.

I told Nick that I would meet him in Pleasant Ridge.  Why did I go to the Ridge?  Probably because that is where I feel most at home.  When I moved to Pleasant Ridge in 2000 I was just beginning my work in the community and most of my friends had moved away, or were about to move away, after college.  I was taken in by the community, and they helped me to grow into the man I am today.

My neighbors in Pleasant Ridge ALWAYS supported my every endeavor – from non-profit coffee shops to my backyard house concerts.  I knew that the Ridge was the best place to start our weeklong adventure.

I parked my car at the Gaslight Café – my home away from home.  The Family that owns the Gaslight has always been so good to me, and I truly consider them to be part of my extended Family.  When they honored me by putting my picture on the “Wall of Fame” I felt that I had arrived.  In fact, I still get a kick out of showing that picture to people.

The first signature I got was from my good friend Laura, a bartender at the Gaslight.  I knew that was a good omen.

After Nick & I hit the pavement for a few hours, a Family invited me in for dinner.  This was the end of day one.

Almost.

Nick & I returned to the Gaslight and I grabbed a napkin.  Over the course of the past 16 years (the amount of time I have lived in Cincinnati) I have developed numerous great ideas on napkins from the Gaslight.  And I knew that if we were to be successful in the coming week that we would need a solid plan.  One written on a Gaslight Napkin.

So, the plan was conceived with minimal changes made along the way.  The picture above is of the final plan as it stood after a week of making adjustments.  The napkin has been in my wallet until this morning when I took it out and knew we could comfortably move on with the rest of the campaign.

When I woke up last Wednesday morning I realized that I needed a better strategy for the morning hours than just “milling about Downtown.”  So, I canvassed Government Square.  Up and back, up and back I went for two hours.  I met many people traveling to work, many seeking work, and numerous teenagers taking the bus out to King’s Island for their summer job.  Of course, the teenagers did not sign, but the drive I saw in them to grab the bus for a 45 minute ride to get to work so they could help their family inspired me.  The woman who rode a bus over an hour to help a wealthy man who couldn’t leave his home in Hyde Park humbled me.  And the numerous people who told me they had never met a politician before saddened me.

I made a lot of new friends at Government Square this morning.

Nick & I then dropped off petitions to Derek Bauman and made our way to Hyde Park.  We stayed in Hyde Park for a couple of hours and then went to Evanston.  I have a lot of friends in Evanston, but felt it was time to meet more.  And meet more we did!  Lots of people were out on the street and they all told me stories of the tightly knit community in Evanston that desires more investment in their neighborhood.  If you need evidence of how tightly knit Evanston is I encourage you to attend one of their Community Council meetings or just drive by their Rec Center.  It is ALWAYS packed!

After all of this signature gathering and friend making, we had a fundraiser at the Montgomery Inn Boathouse where we showed Team Moroski Social Media Coordinator’s film, “Cincinnati’s Abandoned Subway.”  Paige Malott, our Social Media Queen, is also a film producer and general awesome creative spirit.  It was a great night and a nice opportunity to take a breather.  As Nick & I did rested our dogs, Deputy Campaign Manager, Devoe Sherman, ran around Downtown and Mt. Auburn grabbing more signatures.

Thursday morning took me to Government Square yet again.  And yet again I made numerous new friends.  Nick & I then made our way to the Northside and Clifton after dropping off petitions to Greg Landsman, Roxanne Qualls, and Laure Quinlivan – all of whom agreed to help gather signatures for us.  A great day overall, except for the mile and a half jog I took with someone (in my TOMS!) only to be turned down when I asked for his signature.  We did not see eye to eye, but jog along him I did, answer his questions I did, but sign he did not.  Good news is that I got my exercise for the day, and wore out another pair of TOMS (by this point on the napkin plan I was on my second pair).

On Friday we all met at Coffee Emporium and folks showed up to sign throughout the morning and the afternoon.  Wendell Young stopped over to sign, and later that day his campaign staff asked for a couple sheets so they could help us out at the Black Family Reunion the next day.  After lunch at the Emporium, Nick & I headed to Sayler Park to knock on more doors.  My third pair of TOMS were breaking in nicely after three hours of hitting the pavement.  We then met up with Neighborhood Outreach Coordinator Michael Heckmann and made a pit stop at Price Hill Chili.  While there, Pete Witte stopped by to grab a couple petitions.  After dinner we hit the Enright Eco Village where the Schenk Family invited me in for a great conversation, and then we rounded out the day at the St. Williams Festival.

Saturday morning came early.  After all, it was time for the Black Family Reunion Parade!  I love the Black Family Reunion, and was so excited to march in the parade.  I made the decision to switch back to Doc Maarten’s for the day.  Actually, I switched back to Docs for good.  My feet were really aching at this point and my TOMS needed a break. The parade was so much fun, and I think I shook every single person’s hand along the route (which is always my goal – but I came the closest to doing so at this parade).  After the parade the Team headed down to Sawyer Point for the Reunion.  I saw so many friendly faces and heard so many words of encouragement.  The UFCW was very kind and had a few petitions at their booth so people could sign.  It was also great running into Jeri Tolliver who put me on the air the second I walked by the Buzz’s live broadcast to talk about how awesome the re-gathering process was going.

Nick & I had plans to go to Avondale after Sawyer Point, but we hit a signature wall.  There was no more steam.  At one point of not talking for five minutes and gazing into an undefined distance, I turned to look at Nick who had the same blank expression on his face.  So, we took a break.  At the end of the day, I finally got a decent night’s sleep after watching Katie Holmes’ “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark.”  It’s actually pretty good.

(Note:  Nick & I collected 500 signatures by Saturday afternoon – we were a full day ahead of schedule.)

And then Sunday came!  Nick & I knocked on nearly every door in Mt. Auburn.  We ran into Kevin Johnson’s brother as well – which was really a neat bonus as Kevin was the very first candidate to call us & express support when the news broke that we did not get all of the required signatures.  After knocking on doors, Nick & I went to the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation’s Biergarten.  Wow, what a lot of fun that is.  If you haven’t been, you need to go.  The good people of Walnut Hills are really banding together to create something special and I felt quite blessed to be a very small part of it.

After our exciting morning & afternoon, we headed to MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine were my friend Bonnie Whitmore (from Austin, TX) was playing.  It was fun having a friend stop through town in the midst of all of this re-gathering and to bring me back to Earth with some beautiful songs.  Perfect timing, Bonnie.

Monday came and I was alone.  My Campaign Manager (believe it or not after reading all of this) has a full time job and he had to be there all day.  So, I hit East Walnut Hills, Mt. Auburn, and Avondale on my own.  My goal for my final push was 50 signatures.  And 50 I got.

My 50th signature of the day is noteworthy, however.  As most reading this blog know, I have spent the past 12 years working with our City’s homeless population, hard-to-hire population, and recovery population.  The woman who put her name on my petition and was my 50th of the day had grown up homeless.  Her 21 year old brother had 6 children and a felony conviction.  She was returning from work at Amazon and carrying her small child.  She told me that she would never let her son grow up in the kind of environment that she did.  Yes, she got to where she was because of hard work and determination, but also with the help from some agencies in the City.  It is for this woman that I have worked tirelessly for 12 years.  It is because of this woman that I decided to run for Council.  It is on behalf of this woman that I am willing to work 20 hour days, take arrows from nay-sayers, and never quit until at least a FEW things are set straight in our Local Government.  I knew that, after speaking with her, my day was over.

When Katie looked at me last Tuesday and said, “go get ‘em,” I knew that this was an opportunity and not a setback.

And it was.

It was an opportunity to get back out into the neighborhoods and hear more ideas, stories, and aspirations of the Citizens of this great City.  And one thing that tied all of this together?  The UNITY that I felt.

We gathered 783 signatures over the course of five months last time.  In one week we gathered 1,111 signatures.  People would flag us down on the road to sign.  This is a testimony to the Movement that is occurring in Cincinnati.  A movement of change & progress.

We are on the threshold of an endeavor to build fiscal strength & social vitality in our great City.  Come November, you will have the opportunity to help shape Cincinnati with your vote.  And your vote DOES count.

Your vote is a vote for a balanced budget.  To fix our pension problems.  To help small businesses expand – thus creating more jobs.  Your vote will help the homeless and those being released from prison get back on their feet and function in society.  Your vote is your voice, and you can’t make a change unless you vote.

It is important to get registered to vote if you haven’t already.  If you need help doing so, are unsure if you ARE registered to vote, or to find WHERE you vote, follow this link.

November 5th will be a watermark of change for Cincinnati.  It will signify the positive direction toward which this City is heading, but we cannot do it alone.  We need your help.  We are in this together and we need to unite for change.  I saw this unification this past week in a way I have rarely experienced in my life.

My entire career has been spent mobilizing communities and groups of people over causes that make our City more just.  And I have seen amazing results when people come together.  This is why you constantly hear me say, “Unity Assists.”  It is written on our City’s flag, and it is our mantra for a better future.

Before I close, I need to thank all of those who worked double time to gather signatures:  Katie Moroski, Greg Landsman, Dan Traicoff, Jared Kamrass, Laure Quinlivan, Roxanne Qualls, Jens Sutmoller, Wendell Young, Paige Malott, Evan Hennessy, Derek Bauman, Pete Witte, John Eby, Nikki Mayhew, Leslie Rich, Trinette Zawadzki, Devoe Sherman, Mike Rogers, and Chris Wooten.  A special thank you to Michael Heckmann who ran all over this City and placed yard signs this week.

Thank you, Team Cincinnati, for a great week.  I look forward to seeing all that we accomplish together from now until Team Moroski’s re-election in 2017.  We can get a lot done in four years – so cast your vote wisely – cast your vote for change – cast your vote for someone who understands the common struggles most of us face – cast your vote for Moroski on November 5th, 2013.

 Unity Assists.  Much Love.  See you around Town.

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