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Michael Bowen: 

All right. Welcome to another Calfee Now interview. Today we have my good friend, state representative from District 10 Terrence Upchurch, how you doing Terrence?

Ohio State Representative Terrence Upchurch:

I'm good, brother, how are you?

Michael Bowen:

Hey man, I can't complain, another day. So we'll get right into it, Representative Upchurch. Tell me what your district encompasses, what cities, what part of town you have?

Ohio State Representative Terrence Upchurch:

Well, first of all, I want to thank you for having me on Mike, I really appreciate it and I appreciate all the hard work that you are doing over at Calfee. I also want to thank Calfee for putting these things together, I think it's very helpful and informative, not just for residents in my district, but residents all across Ohio to see what exactly we're doing at the State House. So I represent the 10th house district, which encompasses predominantly the Northeast side of Cleveland, Downtown and the Near West Side. I have a unique district because it is all Cleveland with the exception of Bratenahl Village. So if you want to break it down into neighborhoods, I've got Collinwood, Glenville, University Circle, Downtown, which is a Cleveland neighborhood.

Ohio State Representative Terrence Upchurch:

And then I cover the Near West Side with Ohio City, Treemont, and then I stop right along the Clark Fulton area. So it is one of the most unique districts, it's by far one of the most diverse. When I say that I have some of the largest economic drivers with downtown Cleveland, but I also have some of the most impoverished areas. So the greatest challenge that I've discovered so far is bridging the gap between the two Cleveland's that I cover.

Michael Bowen:

Fantastic. So I got to laugh when I ask this question, because I know you personally, but what made you get into politics? How did you get to your seat that you sit in today, and what are some of the dynamics that goes with that?

Ohio State Representative Terrence Upchurch:

Sure. Well, and Mike, you and I have had the opportunity as we've gotten to know each other over the years, and to talk about this. I've always had an interest in government and public service, and I didn't necessarily know if I wanted to be behind the scenes, working on the bureaucratic side or if I wanted to be a public office holder. So when I graduated from college, I started working on campaigns and really got a sense for how local politics works and how retail politics works. And with that experience, I saw this seat and I said, I think I would be an excellent candidate for the seat because prior to running, I was an intern for Cleveland City Council and I saw directly firsthand how cuts from the state made it hard for municipalities like Cleveland to provide simple services for their residents.

Ohio State Representative Terrence Upchurch:

We talk about the local government fund and how important that is for not just rural areas, but specifically urban areas too, like Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus. Those local government dollars are vitally important for their functionality. And I wanted to build that partnership because over the past eight years and even longer, the state has veered away from being a partner to local government. So that's why I decided to run and I used the experience that I got in the community and I put it together and here we are.

Michael Bowen:

Fantastic. So I want to go back to something that you touched on in your introduction about, because your district is so diverse, what are some of the obvious, you have some obvious assets, but walk me through what the assets of the community are and what some of your challenges are that keep you up at night about the community and helping moving your community forward.

Ohio State Representative Terrence Upchurch:

Sure. When we talk about assets in my district, I've got Lake Erie, one of the most vital assets, not just to my district, but the entire state. You look at historic communities like the Glenville community, the Collinwood community, Ohio City and Treemont, Downtown is a vital asset with the economic drivers we have down there such as the sports teams and when you look at University Circle, I've got the museums which are a huge economic driver, as well as a great community partner. And I also have two universities that I cover, one of which is the finest university in all of the United States, Cleveland State University, where I graduated from. So the challenge has been, how do I take these assets and make them accessible to all of my residents, especially the low income residents, and how I make these assets improve the quality of their lives.

Michael Bowen:

Absolutely. So when you talk about assets and accesses and challenge to things, let's quickly switch gears here. So, that access to broadband is a hot topic nowadays, especially with the COVID pandemic coming in, everyone is talking about how can children, how can the underserved, how could the impoverished get access to broadband? So tell me what the state of Ohio is doing to address that and what specifically are some of your thoughts on that moving forward?

Ohio State Representative Terrence Upchurch:

Well, I can tell you that this pandemic, and like I've said, I've been consistent with this, this pandemic has exposed a series of problems that folks like you and I have already known to be existed, right? Access to broadband has been a problem for a very long time. And this pandemic has really exposed it because we've been saying for a long time that it is very hard for kids in the inner city to have access to internet and access to computers, let alone. So when you close down schools and you make children in the inner city do school online, first of all, a lot of these kids don't have computers in the home and if they don't have computers in the home, they likely don't have internet access. So now they have to go to the library.

Ohio State Representative Terrence Upchurch:

Well, who's going to supervise them at the library? And a lot of their parents work during the day, I know my mom worked during the day, so I can only imagine what a lot of these parents are going through. So at the state, there's numerous efforts that we're trying to enact to make internet access easier for low income families across the state of Ohio. And it's not just in urban areas, it's rural areas too, that are experiencing the same problems and the same issues with access. That's why it's so important that we have proper school funding here in the state of Ohio, so we can address some of these issues. So those are just some of the things that we're working on right now. Obviously we're in the very beginning stages of it as this pandemic is still at the peak. So we'll see as time goes on and as we move down the road. I'm hoping that we can address this before the end of the school year.

Michael Bowen:

Great. That's fantastic. [inaudible 00:06:37] about challenges, here's another challenge. [inaudible 00:06:40] Democrat, as you know better than anyone, you're very much a minority in the State House, both on the House and Senate side, but especially on the House side. One thing I've always envied about you is you've been able to bring resources and dollars back to District 10. So talk to me a little bit about working in the minority and how you've been able to bring money back to the district and how you've navigated those waters.

Ohio State Representative Terrence Upchurch:

Sure. Well, and Mike, we've talked about this, the name of the game is bringing back resources to your district. And there's a challenge. My political background was working with the Cleveland City Council being an intern and seeing how every single dollar matters and fighting for every single dollar makes a difference when you talk about the quality of life for your residents. And going to Columbus in a environment where it's predominantly controlled by one party in every chamber, and even at the executive levels, compromise is vitally important. And I have principles that I ran on and there are some things that I will stand firm on, but where I'm able to compromise and work with the other side to bring back resources, I'm more than willing to do it because at the end of the day, yes, my people want to make sure that I'm fighting on their behalf, but they want to see dollars come back.

Ohio State Representative Terrence Upchurch:

They want to see the quality of their life improve. They want to see roads resurfaced and roads repaved and vacant and abandoned buildings being torn down. They want to see tangible things happen in their community. They get tired of folks coming up, well, I couldn't do this, that and the other, but I stood up on the floor of the house and I fought the Republicans, blaza, blaza. And I get that. And that's part of the job, certainly, but the name of the game is bringing back resources. And I have a very good relationship with my council members in my district, Kevin Conwell [inaudible 00:08:30], Carrie McCormick, Anthony Harrison. And I talk with those guys quite often, and Jasmine Santana, I'm sorry, I talk with my council members quite often. And every time we have a conversation, it's always about, okay, this is what we're trying to do in our wards, how can we get state dollars to help move this project forward?

Michael Bowen:

That's great. I completely agree with you. So . looking, I guess you can look forward now, you won with 80% of the vote in your primary, you don't have a general, so we could go ahead and assume you'll be there post January. What are some of your legislative priorities? We're coming into [inaudible 00:09:10] obviously that's got its own dynamics to it, but then January looking on is a new GA, you're no longer the freshmen, the new kid on the block. What are some of the legislative priorities you have looking forward as you move into your next phase of representing the 10th District?

Ohio State Representative Terrence Upchurch:

Sure. Well, this first term is very interesting, it's been a learning experience. And moving forward with this second term, I really want to hone in on getting some solid legislation done. And some of my priorities moving forward are workforce development, public transit is another very important piece to what I'm looking at doing moving forward. We were able to increase funding for public transit in the last transportation budget, I want to make sure that we keep it at the same level or increase it. I do not want to see a decrease in funding. I also look at school funding as well. Here in the state of Ohio it's been ruled that the way we fund our public schools has been unconstitutional, several times it's been ruled.

Ohio State Representative Terrence Upchurch:

So I really want to hone in on making sure that we fund our schools fairly and that there's equal funding and that there's equity. And I also want to look at a workforce training. I said workforce development, but really workforce training. Not a lot of our kids, or not all of our kids rather, desire to go to college and that's fine, but that does not mean that they should not be prepared to be successful in a globalized economy because that's what's happening, our economy is becoming more and more globalized, competition's increasing, and we have to prepare our young people to go into an environment where they can have the most skills to be successful.

Michael Bowen:

Fantastic. So in conclusion, you know that this is a podcast or interview that we're sending out to clients, our prospective clients, general folks around Northeast Ohio, and frankly around the state of Ohio. Is there any last parting words you want to say to us, or say not so much to me, but I guess say to the viewers we have watching?

Ohio State Representative Terrence Upchurch:

Well, I just want the viewers to know that I am working hard with all of my colleagues in the caucus in the House to make sure that we fulfill the Ohio promise, which is to make Ohio a place where you can live, work and raise a family in a productive environment. There are challenges, we are [inaudible 00:11:30] minority, but we are committed to working with the other side to make sure that we improve the quality of life here in the state of Ohio. And I want to thank you for putting this together, and I want to thank your clients for listening in. Your clients also play a vital role in moving Ohio forward and they also play a vital role in the growth of Ohio's economy, as well as the quality of life here in Ohio. So I do want to thank you and I'm happy to come back and have deeper conversations at any point in time, brother, you know I'm only a phone call away.

Michael Bowen:

Well, Representative, I appreciate you and I appreciate you taking the time to do this. And keep fighting the fight down at the State House for us all, we really appreciate your service, everything you've been doing.

Ohio State Representative Terrence Upchurch:

Absolutely brother, and please tell the wife and family I said hello.

Michael Bowen:

I sure will.

Ohio State Representative Terrence Upchurch:

You got it.

Michael Bowen:

Thanks, you have a good one, man.

Ohio State Representative Terrence Upchurch:

You too, bro. I'll talk to you.

Michael Bowen:

Okay.

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