Candidate for Cleveland Hts. City Council -Mary Dunbar
2880 Fairfax Road Cleveland Heights 44118
WEB SITE: www.marydunbar.com
Education: Smith College, B.A., English Literature. Stanford University, M.A., Mass Communication
Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University, MBA, Finance and General Management
Occupation: Community service
Qualifications: Expertise in finance, communications, marketing and ethics
Highly successful, results-oriented business and volunteer experience
Former Chairman of the Board, National Investor Relations Institute
Community: President, Cleveland Heights Bicycle Coalition, 2010- Author, Historic District application, 2010- Member, Cuyahoga County Transition Team's Code of Ethics Workgroup, 2010-11
QUESTIONS and RESPONSES:
1. The most important thing: We must strengthen the tax base so as to be able to pay for excellent schools and city services, such as well maintained roads. We can do this by attracting new homeowners and businesses while retaining those already here. Maintaining and improving housing is key, but we must also market our advantages effectively and upgrade business areas. In addition to filling our vacant, foreclosed homes, retail and office spaces, our city can surely reduce costs through regional collaboration and productivity improvements. We should aim to become recognized for sustainable practices, civility and safety, and innovative civic improvements.
2. Regionalism: The trend toward regionalism and collaboration can enable Cleveland Heights to reduce the cost of government services, thus helping taxpayers get more for less. Local governments should pave the way for regional collaboration by jointly identifying best practices, acquiring compatible equipment and systems, and standardizing operations. This in turn could allow more efficient, large-scale garbage collection (even as we work to reduce the waste stream) and perhaps police and fire services, for example.
3. Housing market: Cleveland Heights can benefit from demographic shifts already under way. Research indicates that baby boomers and their children (Generation Y) want pedestrian-friendly, transit-oriented, mixed-use environments that de-emphasize auto dependency. That’s our city. To increase demand for our housing, we must market our strengths to people either starting out or downsizing, as well as to those filling new jobs being created in University Circle. From helping people deal with lenders to mowing lawns at empty houses, we have numerous programs that address foreclosures. Increasing programs' efficiency and effectiveness will help retain residents and attract new ones (especially homeowners) more quickly.
4. CH-UH levy: support the levy. I have heard Superintendent of Schools Douglas Heuer speak several times and have been impressed by the intelligence of plans to improve our schools’ performance. The latest testing results suggest that the district’s improvement programs are effective, as virtually all school improved. The schools need our support to continue positive momentum with the goal of achieving an excellent rating for the district in three to four years. Let’s do it!
5. Confidence: Cleveland Heights has many strengths. We need to make sure that residents and prospective residents know about and appreciate our amazing homes, business districts, schools, parks, and cultural and recreational opportunities. We already benefit from our proximity to University Circle, with its cultural assets and growing numbers of jobs, but we can do better. Our city is in a sweet spot at a pivotal time when reuse and redevelopment of land are expected to prevail over piecemeal, poorly connected sprawl. I will communicate to residents at every opportunity that, for these reasons, the future looks bright for Cleveland Heights.
6. Increase revenue: We can broaden our tax base and increase revenue by attracting growing businesses, such as those that University Circle’s BioEnterprise is generating. Challenging to initiate and ironic, a way to increase revenue is to lower taxes, because our community’s comparatively high taxes discourage more affluent people from moving in. Lower taxes would make Cleveland Heights more attractive for taxpayers. The net effect of attracting more affluent taxpayers would likely be increased revenues. This has happened elsewhere. Additionally, reducing government costs through productivity improvements and regional collaboration can enable tax reduction or, alternatively, redeployment of resources to address unmet needs.