(Originally posted July 26, 2016)
In this blog, I periodically feature our colleagues in government so you can get to know us better. Today, we care talking with Councilman James Pasch.
Councilman Pasch has been a dedicated public servant since childhood, volunteering and working at local community organizations alongside his two brothers . As an adult, he remains motivated by helping people, whether it’s in a courtroom serving as an attorney or simply having a conversation with a Beachwood resident to help us continually improve the quality of life in our community. Please take a few minutes to learn about Councilman Pasch as he shares more about himself in this interview.
1) What is your favorite thing about living in Beachwood? Do you have a favorite restaurant or spot to hang out?
The best thing about living in Beachwood is the people. When my wife and I moved to Beachwood, the people immediately welcomed us. When I ran for office, I knocked on every door in the city, and people invited me into their living rooms and kitchens to talk to me about the future of Beachwood. Those conversations ranged from policy discussions to personal stories, and have led to lasting friendships. The passion and dedication that people in Beachwood have for our city is truly unique.
As far as a favorite restaurant, I am going to go with Mitchell’s because sometimes ice cream for dinner is just the way to go. My favorite hangout spot is the Beachwood City Park.
2) Tell us a bit about your childhood.
I was born in Brooklyn, NY, and grew up in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and New Jersey. I am the oldest of three boys, and my family is the world to me. My parents are still in NYC, and my brothers are in Los Angeles and Chicago, but that does not prevent us from staying close. It was our family dinners growing up that were my first testing ground for political debates. My brothers and I worked and volunteered at local organizations starting at a very young age. It instilled both the hard work ethic and dedication to our local communities that we all have today.
3) How did you end up in Northeast Ohio?
I first moved to the Cleveland area to attend law school at Case Western Reserve University and knew early on that I had found my permanent home. While in college in Vermont I met my wife Carly, who is from Marion, Ohio. While I attended law school, Carly served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Namibia. After Carly came back from her service, we agreed that the promise and hope of the Northeast Ohio community was inspiring, and building on the area’s future was something that we wanted to be a part of. We also get the added benefit of being very close to our family in Central Ohio, including our nephew, Andrew.
4) Outside of Council, what do you do for a living and what drives you to do it?
I’m an attorney and the Assistant Dean of Development & Alumni Relations for the CWRU School of Law. My central motivation is to help others – whether that is in a courtroom representing people and small businesses or working to secure more scholarship funds so that the next generation of students graduates with less debt.
5) How many children do you have? What do you enjoy most about being a dad? Do you have any pets?
Carly and I have a daughter, Mackenzie (Mac), who was born earlier this year. We also adopted a dog, Reagan. Reagan and Mac have quickly become best friends. My favorite part about being a dad is watching Mac grow week to week… and of course her smile.
6) It’s an impressive accomplishment to have served on Council for 3 years at the age of 31. Do you think your age gives you any advantages or unique perspective?
I think it is less about age and more about getting involved and in touch with your local communities. I started working in politics in my early 20s. I served on many campaigns - from being a volunteer field organizer to a campaign manager - and also served on Capitol Hill for the late Senator Frank Lautenberg (NJ – D), and then Senator Patrick Leahy (VT- D). The best way to understand the issues of the day is to throw yourself into the mix. I urge all young people to get involved in government – you can truly make an impact.
I think everyone enters public service with his or her own set of advantages. Being younger, one area that sets me apart is my comfort and ability in using new media to communicate. The flow of information via social media directly to the people who hold office has the ability to permanently reshape how we govern. It is much easier for the people to have direct contact with their representatives and vice versa. All of this allows the next generation of office holders to stay more in tune with their constituents and thus help prevent a situation where elected officials become isolated and make decisions in a bubble.
It is also important to note that our generation has come of age during 15 years of war, growing inequality, the great recession, and a massive student debt crisis. There is not a single individual under 35 that has not been impacted by those events and issues, and as a result there is a lot of doubt that the political system can cure societal issues. The only way to establish trust in the system is to start at the local level and work neighborhood by neighborhood in coming together to solve important issues.
7) What advice would you have for others seeking public office?
There is nothing more rewarding then running for office. If you have a set of ideas to improve your community, people will listen and ask questions. Listening to the people you meet while campaigning will make you a more effective leader if you are fortunate enough to win. If I have one piece of advice, it is to knock on doors - meet and talk directly to the people that you want to serve.
8) If you could pack up and leave for a vacation tomorrow, where would you go?
Burlington, Vermont. It is where Carly and I met and went to college. We love going back to hike the Green Mountains, eat at our favorite restaurants, and watch the sunset over Lake Champlain.
9) What do you do for fun? Hobbies, etc.
Play and watch sports. I play pickup basketball, tennis, and golf. I am a diehard fan of all sports. One of my largest hopes is that my beloved NY Mets never have to play the Cleveland Indians in the World Series. I also love exploring the Cleveland Metroparks when I have a free weekend.
10) What involvement do you have in community, charitable activities?
I have spent the last two years as the adviser to the Pre-Law Society at Beachwood High School, and have been an active member of the Beachwood Democratic Ward Club since I moved into the city. I spent three years as part of the Big Buddies program in Cleveland at CWRU.
11) Tell us something about yourself that would surprise people?
I lived in Okayama, Japan for a little while, and taught English at an elementary school. I hope to visit Japan with my family in the near future.