Upper Arlington City Council
Michaela grew up with an immigrant mother who was the sole provider of their overwhelmingly female household. She has seen how domestic violence and the lack of economic independence for women can impact not just them, but generations of their family. As a result, she has spent her life in public service. Michaela considers Upper Arlington her forever home and believe the city’s best days are ahead. She is committed to using her perspective and passion to add value and help Upper Arlington find solutions to complex problems on everything from development, infrastructure, safety, and finances.
In 2020 Michaela will begin her work as an Upper Arlington City Council Member.Website
Meet the Candidate
Can you tell our members a little bit about your journey to filing as a candidate?
Giving back is a necessity for those who have been given much. I have a deep sense of gratitude for all that has been given to me. I’m a candidate for office because I love UA and want to do my part to see it’s best days ahead. I want to give as much as I can, to as many as I can, because I know access to opportunity is precious and can make all the difference. People deserve an empathetic and authentic person as a representative and that is what I have to offer in this role.
In high school, our family had one car between the four of us. My mother took public transit to work while my sisters and I took the car to school. We’d pick her up on our 45 minute drive (one-way) to swim practice, grabbing fast food on the late night drive home. Looking back, I can’t imagine how exhausted she must have been. Her investment paid off when two of her daughters swam in college. It was our pathway out of poverty. It keeps paying off.
People my age in public service often emulate their parents. I’ve always respected and envied those legacies. My mother has an associates degree and held pink collar jobs in corporations throughout her career. She’s also a German immigrant, so voting wasn’t prominent in my childhood home. When I ask how her daughters came to careers in public service, she tells me, “we lived it.”
Tell our members about a friend or family member who inspired you to become a leader.
My mother. I can’t imagine how different my life would’ve been if faced with all that adversity but without her strength, hope, and guidance. I’ll always feel an obligation to pay it forward.
She risked her life and future security to leave an unhealthy and dangerous marriage. It wasn’t easy. She took from her retirement to keep a roof over our heads. It wasn’t always enough. Even though there was much instability, she always had faith and a positive attitude. Every time the next hardship caught us, she’d say, “it could be worse!”
My mother is not an exception. I’m inspired by those who struggle and continue to work hard, most especially when that struggle is the result of circumstances outside of their own actions. That is often the case. It’s easy to be inspired to lead when you’re surrounded by those who suffer while still recognizing their lives as blessed. She did that, and I try my best to follow her example.
Some of you are military veterans, some small business owners, some professionals, some mothers and grandmothers, some homemakers. How did one of these experiences shape who you are as a person and leader?
Working for U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown prepared me for office holding and support roles, most especially the value of constituent services. He constantly sent personal, handwritten notes to Ohioans, something I emulate in all aspects of life. He took care of and valued his staff, making sure I had paid family leave to be an egg donor for my brother and his husband. Most importantly, was the expectation of empathy for all of our constituents. Sherrod knew that people reach out when they’re in desperate need and it was our job to listen, even when at times they’re cruel in their cries for help.
I’ll never forget a day in the office where, after making small talk, I asked him about an upcoming vote of significant national importance. Sherrod’s immediate response was, “how do you think I should vote,” and I answered. He listened, without interruption. After taking in the information, he turned to each of the interns in our office and asked them the same thing. Equally so, he listened and asked thought provoking questions.
I’m proud to be a part of his public service legacy, because I know that everyday people are at the heart of what Sherrod does. It taught me so much about politics and certainly reinforced my idealistic notion that you can be successful while standing up for what’s right – because people remember it and they are who matter most.
The Matriots PAC has a goal to see 50% of all elected offices in Ohio held by women by 2028. What is your vision for Ohio in 2028?
Our democracy is broken for many reasons. I’d like to see a return to diplomacy and service in governing and an Ohio where elected leaders are overwhelmingly people of conviction. A state where power is in the hands of those who actually listen to constituents. A state with decision makers who are willing to stand up to the backroom power brokers on behalf of everyday people.
I’m exhausted by the political status quo of hiding or lying about, when knowingly unpopular, your values. If you believe in your ideas, and your ability to make a positive difference, then you shouldn’t be afraid to stand up and stand apart. I’d like to see an Ohio with bold, unafraid leadership that is willing to compromise when appropriate to help move our state forward.
Tip O’Neill famously said that “all politics is local.” What are the top-two issues your community or our state face today?
The rapid growth and population increases anticipated for our region will require change. The most likely change is density and developers are seizing the opportunity. Residents are not adverse to change. Many welcome the commercial tax base that could alleviate the burden on their own finances. They want to be a part of conversations around change earlier on. Our City must do a better job of communicating, being proactive in our approach to development and infrastructure, updating our zoning laws to re-examine the qualifications of “neighborhood compatibility,” and allowing for more citizen review and feedback.
Additionally, it’s becoming increasingly hard to enter and stay in Upper Arlington, and many still perceive UA has “unwelcoming” and perhaps not worth the economic or residential investment in comparison to more diverse and less expensive Columbus suburbs. Truthfully, UA has the greatest sense of community that I’ve ever experienced. Our Council must be focused on housing variety and changing the broader narrative of who UA is so we can remain competitive and an intergenerational community.
Tell us something personal about yourself.
I am simultaneously the girl who watches CSPAN for fun AND the girl who needs to watch reality tv or pixar/kid movies to wind down. I can get wrapped up in just about any season/city of the Real Housewives. When I ran two years ago, I irritated the hell out of my campaign team and family because anytime we would watch a movie together I would insist on, “Trolls!” Lately, the newer Winnie the Pooh movie has been my go-to right before bed.
My husband would be really disappointed in me if I didn’t also mention that I leave all the bathroom cabinets open and don’t know my right from left without holding my hands up and making an “L” with my thumb and pointer finger.