What I’ve Learned (A Retrospective)

2013 has been a year of change for my wife, Katie, and me.  It all began in February when the Archdiocese of Cincinnati catalyzed my run for City Council by terminating me for publicly supporting marriage equality.  I now find myself on this day, the Friday before the election, reminiscing on how I got here and what this year means.

I am a writer.  I have always been a writer since I was a very young child.  As a writer, I am called to reflect and find meaning in events.  Like it or not, it is a blessing (curse?) I have had from birth.  Other writers reading this no doubt understand what I mean.

And today is the perfect day to reflect on this year as it is the first real day that I have been able to breathe in nine months.

The question that plagued me is how to frame my retrospective of this year.  Maybe it is the teacher in me, or maybe it is the student, but I decided that framing my reflections around what I have learned is the surest way to keep me on track and make my points clear.

So, I begin with my conclusion; the overarching theme of what this year has taught me.  It is nothing new to me, but it has been reinforced this year in ways hitherto unknown or seen by me in my 35 years of existence.  And that theme is this – without relationships, nothing worthwhile or long-lasting can be accomplished.

Relationships are what brought me here – relationships are at the heart of every single initiative, nonprofit, or decision in which I have ever been involved – relationships took a first time candidate’s campaign and thrust it to the forefront of a crowded field of 21 candidates.

I’ve learned that I am blessed to have so many honest and loving relationships in my life.  I’ve re-learned that I am running for office for those without relationships, those who struggle to make ends meet, those who rely on those given a voice to represent them well.

I’ve learned that I am running for those who do have relationships, those who do have the means to make ends meet, those with a voice – and that I have a responsibility to connect the voiceless with the voiced in an effort to truly move Cincinnati forward.

I’ve learned that I am the candidate that can get that accomplished.

I’ve learned that, no matter how far we’ve come as a society, that there are organizations who still embrace fear and bigotry.  I’ve also learned that there are many more people who do not embrace these things and that they desire a change.  I’ve learned that these very same people are willing to work very hard to actualize their dreams.

I’ve learned, sadly, that big corporate money is still capable of trumping the “little guy,” and that it is past time in Cincinnati to make it illegal to unnecessarily pick on the poor, the homeless, or those who have made the decision to try and get back on their feet.

I’ve learned that, even though I was advised against speaking to this topic at the onset of the campaign, the citizens of Cincinnati are far past ready to talk about recidivism and working with returning citizens to create healthier communities.  I have seen evidence of this in my positive reception at nearly every community gathering or forum, and in other candidates beginning to speak about this very same issue as the campaign winds down.

I’ve learned that the streetcar is one of the easiest ways for people to vent their frustrations.  Many of the people who oppose the streetcar are awesome people who are simply upset at other issues, e.g., roads not being paved, their neighborhood going underrepresented for years.  I’ve learned that many will latch onto this misdirected anger toward the streetcar in the hopes of getting elected – often promising things to voters that are simply not true.  I’ve learned that my unwavering support of the streetcar has shown my ability to stand firm in my beliefs and to not “change my tune” from forum to forum.  Most importantly, I’ve learned that this garners respect from voters who are not as easily misled as many would like to believe.

I’ve learned that parking meters and how they are managed can become a point of interest, and, again, many are willing to use peoples’ anger over an issue to their own advantage, all the while ignoring (hopefully not deliberately) the facts associated with said issue.  I’ve learned that it is difficult to hold your ground for what you know can benefit the City overall, even if it hurts your chances of election.  I’ve learned that my integrity does, in fact, serve me well as more and more people seem willing to listen to the facts of this parking issue.

I’ve learned, amidst the muddy waters of these two issues, that people would rather hear about visitability & accessibility ordinances and how these measures will actually not only boost our local economy, but also enable our aging population & citizens with disabilities to live freer lives.  And I’ve learned that visitability & accessibility are but one example of the issues that truly matter to voters.

I’ve learned that my policies for anti-displacement legislation and affordable housing mandates are quite well-received in every neighborhood in the City – proving, yet again, that Cincinnati is a City of neighborhoods, yes, but that it is also a City of relationships.

I’ve learned that there are two camps of candidates in this year’s race – those who feel we can cut our way out of our budgeting woes, and those who know that we have to grow our way to prosperity.  There are candidates who constantly compare Cincinnati to Detroit.  Let me clear the air – we are nothing like Detroit.  Namely, we didn’t have major auto manufacturers leave our City.  Furthermore, our bond rating, while lowered, is still in the top 16% in the Country.  Lastly, Detroit did try to cut their way out of their mess, and look what happened.  People want to live in Cities again and those who are taking steps to attract and retain citizens are the ones succeeding.  Cincinnati is doing just that and we need to support her as she grows up.

I’ve learned that there are numerous players in the shadows of Cincinnati’s political scene that call far too many shots.  Many of these folks, it should be noted, do not even live in the City.  That is not to say that their voices should not be heard, for they should, but they need to come out from behind the curtain and make their intentions clear if they are to have any part in the future of Cincinnati.  For, all too often, these groups descend into the dark abyss of hate-speech and anti-progress referendums.  As a Councilman, I promise to not let them govern our City from the shadows.

I’ve learned that Margaret Mead’s maxim is true, and that one does not need a well-oiled political machine to win an election.  I’ve learned that relationships built on honesty and integrity are the key to success.  I’ve learned that hard work pays off.  Much love, Team Moroski – thank you for all you’ve taught me this year.  I promise to make you proud once I take office.

I’ve learned that, when you receive really bad news (like you don’t have enough signatures to be on the ballot), that having strong relationships is the surest way out of a jam.

I’ve learned that the citizens of Cincinnati were waiting for something fresh, something bold, something they could get behind.  I’ve learned that having a Team of honest, hard-working people will get you noticed like no backroom strategizing can.  I’ve learned that the local media still does respect honesty and openness.  These things make me happy & proud to live in Cincinnati.

I’ve learned (or rather, was confirmed of my belief) that money does matter in political elections.  What I learned was that voters look for more than campaign finance reports – they look for honesty, transparency, and someone who is willing to talk about the issues that will impact society as a whole.

I’ve learned that a 12 year career working with the community is the best preparation for public office.  Having advocated for the homeless, more affordable housing, better safety nets for our returning citizens, and educational opportunities for all has positioned me well to take seat on December 1st, 2013.  What’s more, I’ve learned that there are a lot of people in this City who feel the same way.  And this, more than anything, makes me happy.  Why?  Not simply because it will earn me a position on City Council, but because it tells me that we live in a City that cares about her people.

I’ve learned that progress can be defined by how well a City takes care of her most disenfranchised population by investing in economically moral initiatives.

I’ve learned that my ONE PROMISE on the campaign trail is welcomed in every neighborhood to which I travel.  My promise?  That Human Services will restored to 1% of the general fund by the end of my first term on Council.

I’ve learned that Cincinnatians are ready to move forward.  I’ve learned that grassroots campaigns and a first time, Independent, non-incumbent candidate can be a real player in local politics.  What’s more, I’ve learned that he can and will be elected on Tuesday, November 5th, 2013.

I’ve learned that picking yourself up off the ground when you’re down is the only way to succeed in this life.  I have the relationships to be able to do this.  Too many in our City do not.  I have received numerous accolades for taking a stand in February and losing my job.  My ability to take that stand is a blessing and one for which I am truly grateful.  My ability to fight for those without a voice is a gift; a gift that I take very seriously.  You see, those in poverty could not take the same stand that I took in February.  They could not afford to lose their job & their health insurance.  Thanks to my family (my safety net), I was able to take that stand – a stand I would have wanted to take even if I had not been in a position to do so, but one that, ultimately, I would not have been able to take.   I’ve re-learned why I am running for Council this year – I am running so that those who have long felt their power stripped away from them can begin making moves to regain some of that power.  When one is blessed with the ability to fight for what’s right, one should.  I feel an overwhelming calling to do just that – and I have for many, many years.  I cannot promise that you will always agree with me after I am elected, but I can promise you that you will always know why I voted the way I did, and that I came about my conclusions after deliberate, honest, and collaborative study.  Lastly, I can promise you that I will govern with integrity, and not let the fear-mongers or bullies run our City.

I’ve learned hope will lead the way.

I’ve learned fear will hold us back.

I’ve learned that making friends is the best form of protest.

I’ve learned that family is all that matters.

I’ve learned that hard work pays off.

I’ve learned that sleep is overrated.

I’ve learned that not being beholden to anyone is a good thing, indeed.

I’ve learned that sticking up for those who many would rather ignore is the only way to be.

I’ve learned that people love our City and want to stay here.

I’ve learned the West Side & the East Side are both really awesome and have their own, unique, beautiful personalities.

I’ve learned that our citizens are far more similar than different; each wanting to raise their families in a safe Cincinnati.

I’ve learned that our police and fire men & women are some of the hardest working folks around – not to mention some of the nicest and most courageous people in town.

I’ve learned that many politicians change their tune as campaigns wear on, and that voters notice and don’t respect it.

I’ve learned that saying the same thing to everyone can be a challenge, but is worth it in the end because you sleep better at night.

I’ve learned that I get my best ideas in the middle of the night.

I’ve learned that campaign tote bags and coozies are a huge hit, and that no one wants bumper stickers.

I’ve learned that people actually don’t mind when you knock on their door to talk to them.

I’ve learned that Government Square is my favorite place to canvass.

I’ve learned that it is best to have a campaign manager in his mid-twenties because he doesn’t need to sleep.  Ever.

I’ve learned the very same thing as above about neighborhood outreach coordinators.  No sleep.  Ever.

I’ve learned that a Campaign Team is very much like a family and sometimes needs to have “family talks” to make sure everyone is ok.

I’ve learned that all-natural Wild American Ginseng is all you need on the Trail to stay alert – no Red Bull for this guy.

I’ve learned that Taco Casa, Skyline, and Frisch’s are my favorite campaign pit stops – thank God for canvassing or I’d be 800 pounds!

I’ve learned that collecting 1,000 signatures in five days can be fun if you let it be.

I’ve learned that Community Council meetings are the place to be to hear what is really happening in the City.

I’ve learned that taking time out to listen to records and play guitar is, and always has been, the best way for me to stay level.

I’ve learned that campaign teams can become lifelong friends.

I’ve learned that I made the right decision in February.

Lastly, I’ve learned that Katie is the most amazing person in the world.  Today marks our 14th month of being married.  Nine of those months have been campaigning.  Without her undying support, love, and acceptance I would not have made it here in this strong of a manner.  I’ve learned that I can’t do this by myself – that having her by my side makes me a better person, a better man, and a better politician.

In closing, I look forward to serving you, Cincinnati, for the next four years.  It is time to move forward and invest in our City and our People.  I appreciate the support you all have given me this year.

From Mt. Washington to Mt. Airy, and everywhere in between, I’ve learned that Cincinnati is the place for me.  Let’s show Cincinnati that I’m the one for her on November 5th.

 

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