Not too long ago, in 2010, Forbes magazine named Cleveland one of America’s most miserable cities. Frankly, our high unemployment, unpredictable weather, sub-par sports teams and once-inflammable river definitely did not defend us from this title. However in recent months, Cleveland has been on the rise. Downtown has been experiencing a total revival. Cleveland was recently named the host of the 2016 Republican National Convention, our inner city population has experienced rapid growth, and we even managed to help NBA star LeBron James realize where his heart truly belongs.
Amid all the excitement, Clevelanders can sometimes forget the people who fight for the city on a daily basis. Rep. Marcia Fudge has represented the 11th District of Ohio, which includes areas from Cleveland to Akron, for over two decades. She worked for the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office before starting her political career in 2000, when she was elected the first African-American and the first woman to be mayor of Warrensville Heights.
Fudge then served as chief of staff for 11th District Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones during Jones’ first term in Congress. After Jones’ unexpected death, Fudge was selected by local Democratic leaders to run as her replacement and, ultimately, she won the seat in the November 2008 election. She has been re-elected regularly ever since, running unopposed in 2012.
Throughout her political career, Fudge has fought for job creation, voting rights and education, as stated on her campaign’s website. She has also fought to preserve Social Security and has been committed to working for better health and nutrition for Americans.
According to the Congresswoman’s District Communications Director Belinda Prinz, Fudge understands the needs and viewpoints of her constituents. For many, Prinz notes, this means jobs.
Corinne Hendrock, a junior at John Carroll University, explains, “As a Cleveland native, I would love to opportunity to work in the city after graduation, but in today’s economy I am not sure if that will be a possibility. I hope that my elected officials will do their best to ensure that not only college graduates, but all citizens of Cleveland will have the opportunity to work.”
Speaking on behalf of Fudge, Prinz says there are many layers to job growth in Cleveland. Contrary to popular belief, government has a role in creating an environment that will create jobs, she says, and Fudge understands that government can be a force for good.
Tax policies can be a game changer on this issue, Prinz points out. Specifically, Fudge has been a supporter of a policy called New Markets Tax Credits, which gives investors incentives to invest in neighborhoods they might not normally show interest in. For instance, this policy has been instrumental in fueling the growth of downtown Cleveland, Prinz said. It has provided construction jobs, housing, and has resulted in viable projects such as Cleveland’s new luxury hotel, The 9, and the transformation of The Fairmont Creamery.
Prinz also emphasizes Fudge’s understanding of the role of infrastructure, as businesses need roads and other such infrastructure to conduct commerce. Fudge has long been a proponent for equal access to opportunities. She has worked with the Department of Transportation and contacted federal authorities to seek audits in order to ensure that jobs were offered to the people in her district. Fudge encourages not only the hiring of constituents in her district, but people in Cleveland as a whole, according to Prinz.
This election, Republican newcomer Mark Zetzer of Shaker Heights is challenging Fudge for her congressional seat. Zetzer ran for Shaker Heights City Council in the past, but has never held elected office. He describes himself as a classic liberal Republican who will fight for limited government and individual responsibility.
When asked in what ways Fudge is more qualified to represent Ohio’s 11th district, other than her political experience, Prinz laughs and confidently responds, “Well, I do not know about you but I do not like the idea of someone who advocates taxing air, streets, water, and does not believe streets should be publicly owned. I think people will make up their own minds on that one.”
Zetzer was given an opportunity to respond to this statement but did not reply when contacted.
Many voters, especially college graduates, will be entering the ballot booths on Nov. 4 with jobs on their minds. The constituents of Ohio’s 11th District will determine whether or not Fudge can provide Cleveland with the resources necessary for the city’s long awaited rebirth.