A decade before EDWINS, there was a dream. That dream belonged to Brandon Chrostowski, an impassioned hospitality professional who believed that everybody deserved a second chance, just as he had enjoyed as a youth. Since launching EDWINS in 2013, 150 formerly incarcerated citizens graduated from the program and went on to find gainful employment. None have relapsed into criminal behavior and returned to prison.
Despite his incontrovertible successes, Chrostowski has bigger dreams still. Those dreams all revolve around helping as many people as possible. Toward that end, he announced to Scene that he is running for Mayor of Cleveland.
“If I didn’t have the courage to open EDWINS, then I wasn’t serving my purpose of helping others in this world,” he explains. “This is the same feeling.”
Chrostowski said that out of respect, he notified Mayor Jackson of his intentions before reaching out to this publication.
“I’m not going to knock the job he did,” Chrostowski explains. “He’s a great shepherd. But I believe my ideas can be stronger for Cleveland than the current ideas. These are ideas, but they are ideas that are more than possible, otherwise I wouldn’t be doing this.”
Many of those ideas involve scaling up the tactics and strategies that Chrostowski already is doing and succeeding at.
“I’ve been studying the accounting and economics of Cleveland,” he says. “The biggest costs for both the City and the County is corrections – not enforcement and safety, but simply corrections. The biggest income for the City of Cleveland is income tax. If you’re telling me that the biggest expense is corrections, and the biggest income is people’s income tax, then building training centers like EDWINS in neighborhoods where it can help area businesses grow is the key to changing the city and helping it grow. That’s it.
“You’re taking people who want to work but don’t have the skills and giving them work, which keeps the streets cleaner and keeps revenue coming in, and the cost savings would be monumental.”
In promotional material forwarded to Scene, Chrostowski expounds on his vision for a better Cleveland:
“As I travel through the city, I see acres of unfulfilled promise. I see the potential of our exuberant youth and the wisdom of citizens who have remained loyal to the idea of what Cleveland could be. I see businesses fighting to hang on and serve communities that have supported them for generations. I also see a broad disconnect between what our citizens need and the policies enacted to provide it. I see clearly, as do many others, that it is now time for a change.”