Guest writer: Mildred Cruz
Matt Zone continues his family’s commitment to service Cleveland Westside, and to make Cleveland Ohio a welcoming city. His parents are Michael and Mary Zone, who were both prominent members of Cleveland City Council, and represented the same Westside-Ward now advocated by Matt Zone.
Councilman Matt Zone was first elected to City Council in 2001, representing Ward 15, which includes the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood where he and generations of his family grew up. Ward 15 also includes the Edgewater area and parts of Ohio City, the Cudell and Stockyards neighborhoods.
Councilman Zone is a strong community advocate for his Ward and its people. He works hard to improve the quality of life for those living in Ward 15.
Some of his work includes support for the arts, green building and alternative energy. Matt has been a major force behind on-going capital projects that have given a big burst of vibrancy in his Westside Ward including the development of the Gordon Square Arts District. Some of his work has been in the area of new housing, creating businesses and jobs opportunities, improving the quality of life for the Ward 15 residents.
Matt has just finished fifteen years of service on Council and has brought over one billion dollars in improvements to his Ward. He takes his work to heart, keeping in mind that he is continuing the great work his father and mother have done in the Ward.
That is why it is no surprise that he was elected last year as President to National League of Cities, an organization that
represents 19,000 cities, towns and villages throughout the United States. Previously, Councilman Zone was First Vice President.
The National League of Cities was founded in December 1924 by 10 state municipal leagues that saw the need for a national organization to strengthen local government. Its members are local elected leaders from big and small cities who have an opportunity to shape the priorities, policies, and advocacy positions of the organization. Matt sees his involvement with NLC as an opportunity to learn from what is working in other cities and to share his success and experience as a councilman and a community activist/community organizer.
Matt said that “when I came to City Council we only have four in our block clubs and now we have over thirty in our block clubs.” Matt believes that “in order to create change you need to get people involved with the community.”
So he continues: “I believe in partnership, like the one we have with El Barrio. We are helping people that are looking for work. I have challenged our business community to hire people from our neighborhoods so that we create opportunities for people in our neighborhood. I’m proud to say our efforts with our partners have created more than 1,000 jobs and over 1.000 units of accessible affordable housing.”
One of our crown jewel has been the Gordon Square Community Development project. It has evolved into so many things like the renovation of the Capitol Theater, unique small shop, Near Westside Theater, and many new restaurants just to name a few.
We are excited about our Restorative Justice Initiative: specifically it is an initiative that amendment of our prison Industry to one that works with those who have made some bad choices in life and to help them move into the right direction.
I am also excited about our Racial Equity and Inclusion Initiative, a citywide effort to build an inclusive, interdisciplinary coalition of civic stakeholders, community development practitioners, and grassroots leaders committed to advancing Racial Equity & Inclusion.
Learning to respect each other and to learn to work more closely together by having a better understanding of each other.
The Interrupting Racism Project is about learning the principles of civic courage and to grow your capacity to interrupt racism. We hope to have training on understanding how to respect our cultural differences so we can best learn from each other.
This initiative is key now with all the
negative language coming from some of our elected leaders. The topic of immigrants is a big subject in our country now and need to learn to respect each other and to respect the value we bring to make this a better country.
I have learned over the years that we need to work together at all levels of
government, because when we come together our country does much better.
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