Cozzens kickstarts campaign at John Carroll University forum

University Heights council candidates at John Carroll University forum Oct. 4. Photo by Rebecca Ferlotti.

Thomas Cozzens walked into the room with an air of confidence that struck both college students and members of the University Heights community who showed up early for the City Council Candidates Forum at John Carroll University on Oct. 4.

Although this was Cozzens’ first forum in his first election campaign, he lacked any sign of nervousness.

In a brief interview before the forum began, Cozzens said he has never run for City Council before, but he was on the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals for 13 years. He also noted that he has been involved in public service for 40 years. He even spent time in Croatia “teaching workshops in human resources management, organizational development and performance management.”

Cozzens has also taught these subjects as an adjunct professor at Cleveland State University.

Cozzens is running on a slate, or team, with Pamela Cameron and Adele Zucker. Zucker is the only one of the three with prior experience on City Council.

When asked why he chose Cameron and Zucker to run with – rather than the alternative slate of Steven Sims, Kevin Patrick Murphy, Conor McLaughlin and Daniel Hanna – he replied that the “incumbent approach” of the other slate is quite different.

The Zucker-Cozzens-Cameron slate stresses the importance of collaboration, Cozzens said. The three are also like-minded individuals, unafraid to voice their opinions, he added.

During the candidate forum, numerous questions from the audience were written on small cards, collected by students and read to the candidates by John Carroll Political Science Professor Elizabeth Stiles. Topics included the idea of transferring control over the police force from University Heights to Shaker Heights, the Cleveland Heights-University Heights school levy, and the sometimes difficult relationship between the city and John Carroll University.

On the latter issue, Cozzens reassured  John Carroll students, faculty and staff who attended that “although the committee (to resolve conflict between the city and the university) that was formed has not met, there is an open and continuing dialogue” occurring between them.

“If the city thrives,” he added, “it’s good for John Carroll University and if John Carroll University thrives, it’s good for the city.”

Communication between University Heights and John Carroll has been strained, most recently by disagreements over the use of the university’s brightly lit stadium late at night, but Cozzens said members of his slate plan to initiate conversation and resolve conflict if elected.

Another question focused on a program between the city and university to help first offenders arrested for underage alcohol consumption. Cozzens and his slate-mate Cameron both admitted they were uninformed about the program, but spoke highly of the goals. Later, in his closing statement, Cozzens apologized for his lack of knowledge.

Rebecca Ferlotti

Rebecca Ferlotti is a student at John Carroll University who is following this candidate for her journalism class. 

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Volume 4, Issue 11, Posted 1:59 PM, 10.25.2011