Jeremy Matlow is a self-made entrepreneur. The Tallahassee native is managing partner and founder of Gaines Street Pies and three other local pizzerias, Warhorse Whiskey Bar and The Wilbury.
So what made him run for a seat on the city commission?
“I wanted do the right thing for our community and do the people’s will and I didn’t think we were seeing that in Tallahassee, so I decided to run myself,” said Matlow, who was elected in November.
Matlow is 34 years old, married and father of two young sons. Matlow grew up on the south side of Tallahassee.
Gaines Street Pies conducts an annual fundraiser for CCYS’s Going Places Street Outreach Program and Matlow has also launched a crowd funding campaign to help The Project Bridge, which offers services to children with a parent who is incarcerated.
It is a known fact that people go through multiple obstacles when running for office. Ryan Ray, Matlow’s aide, said the newly minted commissioner weathered a firestorm of attack ads during his initial foray into local politics.
“Frankly I’ll say, it was the negative advertising that were directed at him, by some of the aforementioned people. You know there are a group of wealthy people like developers, big vendors and big consulting firms that are used to getting their way,” Ray said. “When they see someone that challenged the status quo they bundled a lot of money and did some really nasty ads. In my opinion, really polluted this community and smears about Jeremy … but ultimately it made the victory even sweeter and we’re so glad that things worked out the way they did.”
With a new mayor and three of the four city commissioners beginning their first terms in office, citizens want to know: What is next?
“I think the greatest thing we want to do just right off the bat is to get people more involved with local government. Let them know that we are assessable to them, we care about their needs, and we want to hear. There’s a lot going on right in Tallahassee. We have huge issues that we need to address, we have high poverty rates and we’re developing our city un-equally, and then we have environmental concerns with climate change and those sorts of things that are growing,” Matlow said.
This year’s new leadership has a lot of things in motion. City Hall now has open visitation hours on any Tuesday without an appointment. They have eliminated the speaker limit requirement at public meetings, so there is no limitation on how many speakers.
Commissioner Williams-Cox initiated a motion to host commission meetings outside of City Hall and have them in the neighborhoods in an effort to be more assessable to the public.
“It so exciting, working with someone that’s so humble, honest and hard working. He logs a lot of hours in this building (City Hall); he works really hard and reads everything. I talk to him after-hours in the evening. He sends me links about issues, he’s in it to win it and he’s a very dedicated public servant. Bringing some new innovative ideas,” Ray said.
Jack Porter, who is working on a master’s degree at FSU, also helped Matlow get elected.
“I decided to work with Jeremy because, I saw he was a unique candidate in many ways, not only his history with the city of Tallahassee. Being from here, raising his family here, his business success as co-owner of Gaines Street Pies, but also his policy objectives, his goals for the city and the compassion he brought to the inequalities that the people are facing in Tallahassee and the very serious issues that the city needs to take bolder steps to address,” Porter said. “So, once I heard he was running, I was instantly in support of him and I wanted to help in any way I could.”
Matlow is not a college graduate but says that people have to choose the path that’s right for them.