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MATTHEW O'KANE: Here's why you should vote for me for Sioux City Council

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I was born and raised in Sioux City. I’ve lived in Sioux City my entire life. Sioux City has always been home.

When I was young, I would go with my dad to the Woodbury County Courthouse, where he spent time serving on the county Board of Supervisors. I had no concept of the work that unfolded there, I just enjoyed the endless supply of recycled paper on which to draw and color while I sat at a table bigger than my bedroom. As I’ve grown, those passions – art, responsible reuse, and service to community - have helped mold me into the person I am today.

I currently work for the Sioux City Community School District at VIBE Academy as a K-12 art instructor. I graduated from Briar Cliff University summa cum laude and received the Distinguished Senior Alumni Award. While attending BCU, I was head of the campus Art Club and active in the Sioux City art community. I had experiences that changed my thinking on how to deliver art instruction and caused me to promote a “choice-based art” curriculum. Prior to attending BCU, I received my associates degree from Western Iowa Tech Community College while working full-time to support my growing family.

I have three children and one amazing wife. In our free time we like to garden, create art as a family, get out in the community to learn and play, and experience all Sioux City has to offer. I’ve volunteered for organizations like the Boy Scouts, participated in clean up campaigns around Sioux City, and donated time, treasure, and talent to local, state, and nationwide programs ranging from Arbor Day commemoration to United Way participation. I respect nature and the built environment and try to teach my children, as well as my students, that both are to be cherished and protected.

I am running for City Council because I love Sioux City and believe that it’s a great place to live, work, play and raise a family. We have an interconnected community filled with diverse, passionate people that all want a voice in city issues. I’m running because I believe I can be a strong and empathetic voice for people from all parts of town, all socio-economic sectors, all genders, ethnicities, races, and beliefs. I think I have the ability and the skill set to listen to the concerns of Sioux Cityans and to advocate for everyone at the bargaining table. At a time in our country when politics has become increasingly divided, I believe it’s critical to responsibly and respectfully communicate with each other. We may not agree on everything, but in everything we can find areas in which we agree.

If you honor me with your vote for City Council, I pledge to work hard to ensure everyone has a voice in city politics. I will reach out to parts of our community traditionally underrepresented, and make sure I understand all our concerns and can represent those concerns with a better understanding and knowledge. I will do everything possible to broker conversations between those with differing viewpoints. I'll work hard to engage community members to foster a better understanding of decisions made at the city level and why. I'll be as transparent as possible by ensuring that the lines of communication are always open, and I will remain receptive to feedback. I won’t be afraid to update my position on issues as I receive new information.

I see too many of my friends leave Sioux City for what they perceive as a better quality of life elsewhere. I want to join with those creating a destination location here and will work hard every day to make that happen.

I promise I will never stop fighting for Sioux City. It’s home.

Matthew O'Kane,a teacher in the Sioux City Community School District, is running for his first term on the Sioux City Council.

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