New City Commissioner Ready To Serve
August 27, 2020
Commissioner Daniel Matthews, appointed during a recent City Commission meeting, said Shawnee is the only hometown he's ever known.
"I grew up here in Shawnee," Matthews said. "My dad's a pastor, and we moved to town when I was one."
Matthews said he joked in his candidate interview that he started out in Ward 5, he moved to Ward 6, and now he lives in Ward 1, so he's almost a well rounded candidate.
Matthews lives in Ward 1 with his wife, Yasha, and their four children. Matthews said his kids, ages 9-17, have loved their involvement in the Shawnee Soccer Association.
Matthews said he's served in several leadership roles in the community. He served on the Shawnee Planning Commission, and previously ran a campaign for the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
Additionally, he was part of the team that founded the Community Market of Pottawatomie County. He said the team consisted of a great group of local people who were just concerned about hunger.
"My first exposure to food insecurity and hunger came from my grandfather," Matthews said.
Matthews' grandfather worked in his church's food pantry in Cushing for a long time. Once his grandfather was diagnosed with cancer, Matthews said he discovered how passionate his grandfather was about combatting hunger.
He said stepping into his new role as a City Commissioner was a big responsibility, and he wants people to feel like their voices are being heard.
"Because every day when I go to work, I see the need up close," Matthews said.
Matthews said he also serves on the leadership team at Family of Faith Church, which his father founded in 1983.
"It's located outside city limits, but we consider Shawnee home," Matthews said.
Matthews said the biggest challenge Shawnee is facing right now is one that is not unique to Shawnee. He said the middle class is shrinking, and attracting desirable jobs to the community would be a big challenge. He also said Shawnee faces challenges related to affordable housing.
However, Matthews is also mindful of the role he wants local government to play in community affairs.
"I also think it's important to realize that not all the challenges we face are government's to fix," Matthews said.
In order to attract families and businesses to Shawnee, the City Commission would have to take a holistic approach to governance.
"In a lot of ways, I see the function of the city commission is really tending the soil of the community," Matthews said, "to allow people to plant things that will grow."
Right now, Matthews said he's focusing on having conversations with the community, and with community leaders, to create partnerships to help bring that growth.
He said in order to attract businesses and families to the community, you have to nurture the right environment. Employers want a community that not only has affordable housing, he said, but also has options for shopping, dining, and recreational activities.
Matthews said he's ready to wants to work with people from across ideological lines, and with different perspectives to continue to help Shawnee prosper.
"It's been fun watching it grow, as we've grown," Matthews said. "My wife and I are raising our family here, and we just believe in the community and want to continue to see it grow."