Candidate for UH Council - Conor McLaughlin
Conor A. McLaughlin
2616 Edgerton Road, University Heights, OH 44118 Age: 29
Education: J.D., Case Western Reserve University School of Law
B.S. (Finance) Miami University
Qualifications: As an attorney, I have experience analyzing complex issues, advocating for particular positions, and negotiating, collaborating, and compromising with other stakeholders. I also am educated in finance, economics, and political science.
Community: Member, Program Committee, West Side Catholic Center (since 2009)
Member, Big Buddies (2004-2007) (affiliated with Big Brothers, Big Sisters)
Participant in Cleveland Legal Aid Pro Bono Project (2008-2010)
QUESTIONS and RESPONSES:
1. The most important thing: The City must have a clear focus on the future, making improvements for the long term. Specifically, I will look to build municipal partnerships, finding ways to collaborate on services and be more efficient with tax dollars. I also will look to find efficiencies in the budget in order to rededicate resources to improving the City’s infrastructure and equipment, particularly the streets. Finally, I will solicit and analyze plans to revive the main gateways to the City, broadening the tax base and making the City more attractive to outsiders.
2. Regionalism: The trend toward collaboration can, and should, have a very positive effect on University Heights. For example, merging fire services with Shaker Heights could provide significant budget savings while maintaining or actually improving response times and effectiveness. We have had success sharing dispatch services with several of our neighbors and should continue finding ways to share services in order to lower costs.
3. Housing market: The best way to alleviate issues caused by foreclosures and a depressed housing market is to make our City attractive to new residents. The City must do a better job of marketing itself, particularly on its official website and through other social media, such as Facebook and Twitter. We should focus these marketing efforts on younger families who, hopefully, will move in and plant roots in the City. Additionally, some cities have experimented with tax abatements for new residents or new construction. We should examine whether those policies have been effective
4. CH-UH levy: Recently I met with CH-UH School Board President Eric Coble to discuss the direction of the schools and the levy. Mr. Coble explained that the schools spend about $100,000,000 to educate roughly 6,000 students (about $16,667 per student). I am not convinced that the school board has found all possible savings in the budget or that the additional taxes will improve educational outcomes and thus cannot support adding to Ohio’s second highest property tax bill
5. Development: University Heights should focus on reviving its four main gateways: Cedar-Taylor; Cedar Center; Cedar-Green; and Fairmount Circle. Those four gateways are the City’s main commercial areas and the most logical locations to focus our business development efforts. We also must improve our infrastructure to support current businesses and make the City more attractive to new businesses.
6. John Carroll: John Carroll and University Heights are co-dependent; our futures are intertwined. It seems that, at times, one or both sides have ignored that fact. For example, while expanded use of the football stadium is generally good for the City, John Carroll must understand that it cannot simply dictate what it wants. We can return to and maintain a positive relationship if the City makes clear that it supports John Carroll and wants it to succeed. In turn, John Carroll should provide more information about its plans for the properties it owns throughout the City, most importantly at Fairmount Circle.