Jeff Coryell seeks opportunity to give back to community

Bright orange leaves fell beneath a gray sky as Cleveland Heights City Council candidate Jeff Coryell canvassed door-to-door on Oct. 10. With extra absentee ballots and campaign signs in tow, Coryell met with some of the residents of Forest Hills neighborhood.

He says he is motivated to pursue a City Council seat to improve the community he loves. “I’m really excited about this opportunity to give back through public service,” he said in an interview.

Before moving to Cleveland Heights, Coryell worked as an assistant attorney general in Texas and an assistant U.S. attorney in New York City. He has also worked as a teacher, artist, small business owner and pro bono lawyer representing people with AIDS.

His work has taught him about many aspects of government. “I learned a lot about government agencies. I learned a lot about how they operate, about budgets, how to understand budgets, what they do and how they work,” he said. “I learned a lot about dealing with regulations and a government agency’s mission and, of course, being a lawyer, in general you learn a lot about legislation.”

Since 1994, Coryell has called Cleveland Heights home. He calls it “a town that people talk about as an exciting, can-do, progressive community and as a wonderful place to live.” Along with the location, intimate retail districts and beautiful neighborhoods, Coryell also cites the city’s “talented and committed” residents as a significant strength.

Along with its many advantages, Coryell also acknowledges various problems facing Cleveland Heights. He hopes to focus on the vacant houses, safety issues, population decline, and improving the public schools.

“Right now, too many people are reluctant to consider putting their children into our public schools. If we work harder at making the schools better and help publicize the progress ... we can overcome that,” Coryell said.

Coryell is a Democrat and said he strongly believes in progressive values. “Being a progressive means that I believe that all the residents of the city should share equally in the benefits of the city. There shouldn’t be parts of town that are underserved and parts of the town that get more,” he said.

Promoting local business, public education, citizen engagement, arts and culture, technology and sustainability are important to Coryell.

If elected to City Council, one of his many goals includes hiring a “sustainability officer” to oversee all city operations with a goal of reducing waste, improving environmental sustainability and, ultimately, saving money.  He or she would research and apply for grants, and work with schools and other organizations to educate the community about the benefits of sustainability.

About 75 cities already have sustainability officers who have saved their cities millions of dollars through environmentally friendly innovations, Coryell said.

Coryell would also like to work with nonprofits to establish an arts district in Cleveland Heights and encourage people to form neighborhood organizations. Finally, Coryell sees enormous potential in incorporating new technology.

The campaign efforts of Coryell and his competitors have not gone unnoticed. Cleveland Heights Mayor Edward Kelley said Coryell “seems to be able to do many tasks at once and balance the rigors of the campaign” and that “all six candidates are doing an excellent job.” 

Maura Stewart

Maura Stewart 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 1:58 PM, 10.25.2011