House District 6: Phil Robinson pledges to “work hard, knock on doors, show up and deliver”

By Connor O’Brien

Photo from the candidate’s campaign Facebook page

It was Sept. 22, a Thursday night, at Brush High School and the last two candidates running for the Ohio House were called to the stage District 6 at the Northeast Ohio Candidates Forum hosted by the League of Women’s Voters and the National Council of Jewish Women. Throughout the night, viewers of the video posted by the League of Women’s Voters can see almost every Northeast Ohio candidate that was asked to participate in this forum show up on the stage and answer questions from the audience. This time was different, though. House District 6 candidate Marlene Anielski issued a typed out statement to the audience that was read by the moderator. She had sent no answers to a list of questions she had been sent to her to answer by the League of Women Voters, and she made no appearance on stage. There was only a sheet of paper.

What viewers can see in the video, though, is Democratic candidate Phillip Robinson, smiling as he thanks the crowd for staying all the way to the end of the candidates meeting to hear him speak. Once the microphone was turned over to him, Robinson immediately began his pitch.

“I’m a Northeast Ohio resident and I really had a front-row view to the middle class dream growing up—it may sound corny but (it was) the ‘American Dream.’ My family, like many other African-American families, migrated up from the South to the North looking for opportunity, but stayed in this region for community. And that’s indeed why I am running.”

Robinson not only is currently a resident of Northeast Ohio, he grew up here too. He then did a four-year stint from 2003 through 2007 in Washington, D.C., where Robinson was working for private agency—Powell Tate, a division of Weber Shandwick—that put together all different types of communication campaigns for anything from a small businesses to a giant corporation, or even the highest levels of government. Along with working for Powell Tate, he also worked as a legislative aide for United States Senator Diane Feinstein.

After these four years in D.C., where he could have stayed and continued working, Robinson decided it was time to return home to that feeling of community in Northeast Ohio. From the time that he returned home until the present day, Robinson has received numerous honors that include being named a “Top 25 Under 35 Movers and Shakers” by Inside Business Magazine and one of “Crain’s Forty Under 40” by Crain’s Cleveland Business.

You don’t get these honors without being involved with the community, and Robinson has been involved in Northeast Ohio in numerous ways. He is the city leader of a local political group in his home town, the Solon Democrats; a member of the board of trustees for the high school he attended, Gilmour Academy; he has worked for two different local marketing firms, Fleishman-Hillard and Marcus Thomas LLC, as a senior account executive; and he’s involved with the Cleveland Leadership Center. But most notably, Robinson has been working for the nonprofit organization, City Year Cleveland, as the vice president and executive director for nearly six years now. City Year Cleveland works to stop the high school dropout crisis in Northeast Ohio by doing things like monitoring students’ attendance, providing one-on-one tutoring, and supporting them emotionally.

Robinson has been involved with education for most of his life. He graduated from Gilmour Academy, earned a degree in finance at George Washington University, and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University. His time at City Year Cleveland is where one can really see his strong emphasis on educating others, though. He has spent the last six years with this nonprofit organization, working to stop the high-school dropout crisis in Northeast Ohio by helping students stay on the right track to get their diplomas.

“One of his [Robinson’s] main platforms is to fight for the reformation of the public education funding system,” said Nick Martin, executive director for the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party, in an interview. He says that Robinson shared stories of his experiences at a high school in District 6, Brecksville, taking all AP and honors courses and being provided with fully funded opportunities from his school, while his younger sister who was learning disabled went through the same school district but was not receiving the same fully funded opportunities.

Martin believes that Robinson “is absolutely committed to getting a fair funded educational system” for every single student, whether they are learning disabled students like his sister or AP students like himself.

Not only does Robinson put strong emphases on community and education, but during the candidate forum at Brush High School, he covered several other topics and issues he holds positions on. Robinson answered a series questions posed by the League of Women Voters and by members of the audience, who filled out paper sheets that were collected and read by the moderator.

He was asked about abortion, and said that he supports allowing women the right to choose.

Another question was how he felt about gun laws. Robinson stated that he does support the Second Amendment, but he believes there can be regulations on guns, including requiring a license and background checks.

Robinson also touched on local government funding and how he wants to see fewer cuts in state funding for District 6. He also said he wants to make voting easier in Ohio, so more people can get involved.

The candidate forum at Brush High School was coming to an end, but not before Robinson got a chance to make his final concluding statement.

Still sporting the same smile he had at the beginning of his time on stage, Robinson told the crowd, “You want someone who is going to work hard, knock on the doors, show up and make sure they’re here to deliver on what you are asking for.”

The Northeast Ohio District 6 Democratic candidate, Phil Robinson, believes he can be that someone.