By SHELLEY TERRY - firstname.lastname@example.org
A former Ashtabula resident is seeking to become Cleveland’s first Hispanic councilwoman, and is a candidate for the Ward 14 seat in the Sept. 10 primary election.
Janet Garcia, 41, was born in New York, N.Y., and is of Puerto Rican descent. She attended Ashtabula Area City Schools, including Harbor High School, for eight years.
She lived with her grandmother at Saybrook-on-the-Lake until 1988 when her sister, Lisette Ruiz, was killed by a drunk driver over Labor Day weekend in Ashtabula.
Garcia then left Ashtabula and finished her schooling in Cleveland.
“We go to Saybrook Cemetery where she’s buried and I still go to the Grape Jamboree every year,” she said.
Since moving to Cleveland 21 years ago, the single mother of four has been active in local community service groups and is completing a business management degree at Cuyahoga Community College.
“I always had a passion to help others,” she said.
In 2006, she became the first Hispanic insurance agency executive in northeast Ohio. Garcia now owns and operates a successful insurance agency on Lorain Avenue in Cleveland.
While the 2013 Primary is Garcia’s first entry into politics, she has high hopes to make Cleveland’s Ward 14 a better place for residents. She is billing her campaign, “A New Face For A Better Place.”
“As I go door-to-door, my list keeps getting bigger and bigger,” she said. “I’m discovering people want the same things everywhere I go. They’re concerned about high grass, abandoned buildings, crime and safety.”
Garcia has established six goals for Ward 14.
“I want to build pride in our ward and beautify and improve our neighborhood,” she said. “We need to stop the cuts to city services and improve neighborhood partnerships with our schools.”
Neighborhood awareness as a deterrent to crime is a major issue in Garcia’s goals.
“We need to build active block clubs and neighborhood safety programs as well as expanding our safety forces,” she said.
Garcia believes being bilingual in English and Spanish will help her be more accessible to a lot of Ward 14’s residents, who are predominately Hispanic.
The incumbent is Councilman Brian Cummins.