Zack Milkovich is the Ward 10 City Council person in Akron Ohio.
I have developed a close relationship with Zack over the last year or so. Getting to spend a lot of time with him has given me the opportunity to really get to know him and understand his thoughts and motivations.
The stories written about Zack, mostly in the Akron Beacon Journal, are reactionary and largely defined by his adversaries.
I need to write a different post specifically about the Beacon's coverage of the Akron political scene. But I'll say this here: you will see excellent reporting on many issues... until it comes to politics. The reporting becomes shallow, sensationalist and blatantly one-sided. When you put the coverage together about how our Akron paper covers Akron politics it is so obviously pro-administration it becomes embarrassing. We currently have no real coverage of Akron politics in Akron. If you want to know the truth about Akron politics you need to get it from Cleveland media outlets. And they don't cover it very much.
This fact about how the Beacon covers Zack Milkovich and most other politicians outside of the administration's control is important in understanding what people think about Zack (and other independent thinking politicians). The Beacon political coverage is owned by the big companies of Akron and the Super PAC Partners Advancing our Future. You don't bite the hand that feeds you. But I don't want to spend more time on that topic here. You just need to know that ABJ is not unbiased in its political coverage.
When I first started talking to Zack I had no idea really what his politics was. I didn't know his background. I didn't know what he stood for. Over time I have come to learn a great deal about his beliefs and values.
What I can tell you is that if you ask him why he's a politician it is for one reason: To Help People.
He is absolutely committed to that pursuit. It is such a drive for him that it makes politics take a back seat.
He will readily tell you that he will work with anyone that wants to work to help the people. He will work with both Republicans and Democrats if they want to help people.
This often times makes him an enemy of both parties. He's not loyal to the party. He is too independent. So, they come after him.
And MAN! Do they come after him.
I've been to many different Ward meetings in Akron. Poor areas and rich areas. But when I go to the Ward 10 meeting I feel like I'm entering the ring of a pro wrestling tournament.
I've seen people drug out by the police. I've seen people rush the front of the room and start yelling things that make no sense. I've seen people groan and roll their eyes just with the mention of homelessness and poverty. It is a bizarre, toxic scene.
What those meetings have become are perpetual political attack battlegrounds. The meetings are terrible. And it's all because political hopefuls and surrogates for the administration are coming to beat up on Zack. That seat was held by Gary Moneypenny, who I also know and like. But he was a committed loyalist to the ruling party and was even mayor for a hot second. They want that seat back.
Zack's family immigrated from Yugoslavia when he was very young. Like his father, he worked in Akrons tire mold industry for 20 years. At the age of 42 Zack was laid off permanently when his company was purchased by the Koreans.
At this point in his life he believed that government wasn't listening to average, regular Americans. So he decided to do something about it. He decided to make a difference in politics.
What's particularly interesting about Zack is that he was a tire mold guy for 20 years. But he also understands world history incredibly well. He knows how authoritarian rulers grab power for no other reason than personal gain but at the cost of all the people they rule.
Akron is a microcosm of national and global politics. When too much power is given to one party bad things start to happen. He sees it and is trying incredibly hard to change it.
He's not alone. He has many friends in politics. But they aren't the party loyalist insiders. His friends are other independent thinkers that are staying more true to the people than the people in power.
As Zack started coming around more and more to our homeless community center I decided to start documenting his work with us. He never has asked me to take a picture of him. He has never asked a reporter to come and cover him working with people. He just comes and helps.
Here are some observations I took pictures of. And honestly, I wish I had covered some other things he has done. Documenting him just didn't occur to me for a while.
I want to reiterate that Zack never asked me to take these pictures and I didn't ask him if I could take these pictures. I wanted to start taking these pictures because I feel so strongly that we are not being given the truth about Zack Milkovich.
Zack, without a doubt, cares about the people of Akron. He wants to help the people that are struggling the most. He has legitimate, solid ideas on how to do it. He is truly smart and knowledgeable on how to be a legislator. We need more people in Akron politics like Zack.
Zack Milkovich is a good man.