Prizm News / April 23, 2019 / By Ken Schneck
Jeremy Blake Seeks Make History in His Run for Mayor of Newark, Ohio
By Ken Schneck
Jeremy Blake is not one to shy away from the idea of change. In fact, he wants to spur some major Ohio change of his own right smack in the center of the state.
On April 4, the 41-year-old Newark City Councilman kicked off his campaign for mayor against the incumbent Jeff Clark. With a wide-ranging speech that outlined the problems and possibilities facing Ohio’s 16th largest city, Blake stressed the element of human connection that underscores his mayoral bid.
“We all have worth, and we are valued,” he proclaimed. “I want you to feel the power of unity, neighbor to neighbor, that comes when we unite, and join together as one love, one Newark, our Newark.”
Prizm chatted with Blake to discuss the motivations behind his campaign, the LGBTQ friendliness of Newark, and the importance of being an out gay candidate.
Why mayor? Why now?
Newark sits at an opportunity for change. We have a lot of great things happening. Downtown is looking beautiful, public and private investments have been rolling in, and we have some great momentum. But we still have some issues we’re dealing with including addressing our homeless population, drug addiction, and supporting marginalized communities in our city. I have been on City Council for two terms. This is the opportunity for me to step up. This is the year for me to do it.
Sell our Prizm readers on Newark.
Newark is just a great place. I can get from downtown Newark to downtown Columbus in less than 40 minutes. Newark currently has two members of City Council who are gay and Cincinnati is the only other city that can say that. We’re proud of being the 15th city in the state to pass an ordinance with housing and employment protections for members of the LGBTQ community. As we grow, I hope more people come out and explore Newark. We are celebrating our second Pride festival this summer. Last year, we were expecting a few hundred attendees at the inaugural pride, and thousands showed up.
In your campaign announcement, you stressed the importance of listening as a first step to open and transparent communication. How does listening play into this campaign?
One of the biggest contrasts between the incumbent and me is leadership style. Right now there is a feeling in the community that the mayor is only listening to a small section of the community, that he doesn’t acknowledge everyone, and that he doesn’t thank people for their great work. Quite frankly, it’s just rude and that’s not the leadership we need right now. Each community deserves the ear of the mayor. I want to get out there to all neighborhoods and meet with the people who are living here so I can hear their concerns directly. I want to knock on every registered voter’s door and that’s a doable goal.
How important do you think it is in 2019 to be an out gay candidate for public office?
My understanding is that I would be the first black, gay mayor in the Ohio state history. So that’s a big deal. But most importantly, I want to be the mayor for everyone. Regardless of how I identify, the people of Newark need to know that whoever you are, if you call or e-mail me, I will respond. The biggest cheerleader of the city needs to be the mayor, and that’s who I want to be.
You can learn more about Jeremy Blake’s bid to become Mayor of Newark by going to https://ournewark.com