Announcement of Candidacy
My name is Laura Rodriguez-Carbone and I am here today to announce my candidacy for Lakewood City Council. It is with a great sense of purpose and responsibility that I am seeking to serve the residents of Ward 1 as their council representative. I am running with a new collaborative vision for our community and local government and my deeply held beliefs about service to the community. I understand from personal and professional experience how important public services and programs can be to the community.
I was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. My brothers and I grew up impoverished, on public assistance, and without a stable home. Though I excelled in my studies, I had to dropout of high school to work two jobs to support my family and pay the rent on the single hotel room we all shared. My father, who couldn’t read or speak very much English, came from a poor farming family in Puerto Rico.
My mother was an unskilled laborer, also far from home, with no family support. Neither one of my parents finished high school. Despite that, my mother always stressed the importance of education.
Because of the GED program, I was able to finish high school while I worked, and enroll at Tri-C. Because of federal financial aid and student loans, I was able to transfer to Cleveland State, receive my Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and my Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. And if it weren’t for other vital government and community programs and assistance, I don’t know where I, or my family, would be.
This, above all else, has left an indelible mark on the defining purpose of my life.
While enrolled in college, I felt called to give back, in any way I could, to the community for the kindness that churches, non-profits, and countless other organizations had shown to me and my family. I started working as a tutor for the U.S. Department of Education in the America Reads Program, serving at-risk children in Cleveland Public Schools.
I continued with the U.S. Department of Education and coordinated the 21st Century Early Learning Center that served at-risk and low income children, and went on from there to help bolster civil rights enforcement in public schools in Ohio and Michigan at the Department’s Office for Civil Rights.
While in college, I also served on my first of many public and non-profit board appointments on the Citizens Advisory Board for the GCRTA. Other board memberships would follow; The Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland, The Hispanic Roundtable, and the Healthy Lakewood Foundation Planning Task Force to name a few.
I share my story, in part, to illustrate how communities come together to sustain and support themselves. The vision for Lakewood’s future cannot be one-sided or single-issue focused.
In over 17 years of community advocacy in Northeast Ohio, I have become deeply aware of how integral community engagement is to setting a well-informed path and vision for our future. We must be multifaceted and forward-looking in our approach to the decisions we make as a community today to ensure a secure and vibrant tomorrow for Lakewood. Ward 1’s future, as well as the decisions and directives of our local government, depend on residents. It is my view that it is the responsibility of city council to take an active role in resident outreach, engage residents in dialogue and civic activities, and ensure all residents are connected to resources and information vital to their health, safety, and wellbeing.
Our public schools, public parks, library, and human services, which have become integral to the fabric of our community, were the product of government seeking to improve the lives of residents by listening to their needs and proposing solutions that helped to add value to, and sustain the vitality of public life. All these programs have a significant influence on how I think about the ability, and the possibilities of government.
In order to ensure that our future is reflective of the values and voice of our people I believe there is much that can be done to include residents in the decision-making process. And it is also why it is imperative, not just to listen, but to incorporate the concerns, ideas, innovations, and hopes of the people who live, learn, and work here.
In Ward 1, it is important to focus on smart development that preserves what is great about Lakewood. Like many others here, though I wasn’t born in Lakewood, I chose Lakewood. And I aim to continue to work to make it a thriving community.
I look forward to a positive campaign focused on solutions utilizing smart development, community-focused planning, and increasing resident access to information to position the Ward and city for a vibrant future.