Our city is in decline. Homicide, gun violence, eviction and homelessness are breaking records in Akron. Our schools are failing. Our sewer and roadways are in disrepair. Our tax base is dwindling. We need strong, innovative leadership. We need action.
The top 3 areas of focus in Akron right now need to be Violence, Housing and Policing. These are the major issues of our time.
At the same time, I will also be the voice of Ward 8. Ward 8 is a very unique and special ward. First and foremost, we vote at a higher rate than any other ward. That right there tells you how much we care. Additionally, we often are some of the most giving and generous people in the city. We don't want just what is best for ourselves, we want what is best for the city as a whole.
I will be the voice of Ward 8 for you. Your desires for Akron will be what will guide me at city hall.
If you know anything about me, you should know that I am a great advocate for the people. Rich and poor. Black and white. Young and old. I SUPPORT THE PEOPLE.
I will work with other city council members and the administration to help move Akron forward into a bright and beautiful 21st century city.
Together through diversity, equity, inclusion and justice FOR ALL we will reach the heights of what Akron can truly become.
Here are some of the specific issues citywide that are important to me. I am putting these here not as an exhaustive list, but as a way for you to get to know me and to understand what is important to me.
Violence is a product of hopelessness. We need to invest in our schools, our young adults, and inner city entrepreneurship and job opportunities.
Policing, housing and violence all get tied together by 3 giant elephants in the room. Addiction, Mental Illness and Hopelessness.
Housing must be affordable and up to code. Everyone must have safe shelter. We need innovative ideas for affordable housing and we need to cut through the red tape that keeps people in unacceptable housing situations.
I fully support the right-to-counsel program, which would provide free representation to low-income tenants facing eviction, which is largely attributed to Shammas Malik's work with Community Legal Aid and other housing agencies across the city.
We need a civilian oversight board and police need to live in Akron. They also need the tools and training to de-escalate AND keep us safe such as high-speed pursuit alternatives and community support staff on the streets.
I fully support the civilian oversight board that was on the November 2022 ballot that was created by Freedom BLOC and the Akron NAACP. Over 60% of voters approved this measure.
Addiction is of epidemic proportions in Akron. I am on the streets every day working with people suffering from addiction issues. Addiction is not a crime. Addiction is an illness of the brain. An addict's brain has literally been rewired. You simply are not going to punish a person out of addiction. We are the home of AA. We must lean into the knowledge and compassion that is brimming in Akron. We must experiment and try radical new ideas to address addiction. Simply put, the county jail doesn't have enough space to incarcerate all the addicts. So, not only is that a wrong strategy, it's not even physically possible.
There is so much trauma on the streets of Akron. Poverty, generational poverty, abuse, evictions, utility shut-offs, incarcerations. All of these society issues are compounding into mental illness. We must get mental health workers out of their offices and on the streets. Mental illness is the great disease of Akron Ohio.
Ever day I see countless people from all races and ages ravaged by the effects of hopelessness here in Akron. Most young people in low-income neighborhoods can't even remember a time when their great grandfathers worked in the large factories of Akron.
We are a dead-end city for thousands of people. But it doesn't have to be that way. In fact, Akron was once the fastest growing city in America. It wasn't because we had the fanciest houses and parks. It was because we had the best opportunities. Akron was the epicenter of innovation and entrepreneurship. It was a city of possibility.
Working with homeless people all these years has shown me that a person can survive incredible physical hardships. But when they have no hope they lose the fight to live.
Jobs can be a solution to providing hope to otherwise hopeless people. But so can art and community leadership. We need to look at many ways to help give the people of Akron a reason to have hope.
The problems of the world, big and small, are always solved TOGETHER. We must come together as a community. We must look for what we have in common, not what separates us.
We aren't going to just wait for someone else to do "it" first. WE are going to do IT first. We are going to have failures. But fortune favors the bold. We are also going to have magnificent successes.
I believe we are on the cusp of Akron being the most exciting city in America. I have had the incredible opportunity of working with people from all walks of life here in Akron. And I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt: Akronites are the real deal. They are smart, hard working and SO resilient. We can do nothing but succeed when we unleash the creative spirit of the people of Akron Ohio.
The People of Akron are the secret sauce to our success. They always have been and they always will be.
Together we will go incredible places.
- Sage Lewis
For Ward 8 City Council.