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On December 29th, 1960, my grandparents fled Cuba under threat of execution from the Castro regime. Along with their children, they came to Ohio in search of a better life inspired by a belief in our democratic principles and the ability to create their own American story. The values of limited government, free markets, and equal rights for all Americans inspired their journey to our country, and continue to allow each successive generation of Americans to create the freest most prosperous nation in human history.
The year before I was born, my father opened his first steel plant, a processing facility on the west side of Cleveland.Growing up in the business and working summers alongside my family, it was here that I first gained a true appreciation for the dignity of a hard day’s work, the value of a good paying job, and the importance of being able to put food on the table. I learned those values from my parents and the incredible men and women who helped build that once small plant into the thriving business that it is today.
After graduating from St. Ignatius High School, it was off to Ohio State University. There, I was fortunate to earn a scholarship as a wide receiver playing for one of my mentors, Jim Tressel. On and off the field, we had many great successes — two Big Ten championships and an undefeated record against “That Team Up North” — but most importantly, it was from Coach Tressel that I learned the team motto, a motto that has stayed with me for my entire life. “With Tradition Comes Responsibility.” See, I believe we are the inheritors of the great American tradition — a tradition articulated in our founding documents, and a tradition that has allowed our country to be the most perfect expression of freedom, equality, and individual liberty the world has ever known.
After spending a lifetime in and around Northeast Ohio, and 5 years in the NFL, it was off to Stanford University where I earned my MBA in hopes of learning the skills and fundamentals of running a successful business. I graduated and helped run a successful technology company that focuses on alleviating the crushing amount of paperwork that festers in our K-12 school system. Most importantly, though, that is where I met the love of my life, Elizabeth. As we decided to plan for our future and our children, we did what many from Northeast Ohio did, we came home. And it is with a belief in the American idea, my responsibility to uphold the traditions passed down from my ancestors, and a fear that our future is slipping away from far too many in our state and country, that I decided to run for Congress.
The American Dream that my grandparents risked their lives to pursue, and I have been so fortunate to live, has felt too distant and too remote for far too many people in our state and country today. Wages have flatlined and jobs have been shipped overseas. Our federal budget is so bloated that we cannot do the basic things that our country needs to thrive. Meanwhile, as a society and a Congress, we are being pulled further apart as our challenges have never been greater. Our representatives spend more time fighting amongst themselves and less time working on the big challenges that we need to solve in order to reclaim our American greatness.
We need change. We need a new generation of leaders who understand the challenges before us, and are committed to solving them with the honesty, grit, and determination that have defined Northeast Ohio for decades. Humbly, I believe I am such a leader.