Newcomer to the UH political scene takes a long-term view

“I’m a Cleveland guy. I love the city and I want to help,” says Conor McLaughlin, 29, a newcomer to the political scene in University Heights.

McLaughlin will be vying for office on Nov. 8, as a member of a team, or slate, with three other candidates: Steven Sims, Dan Hanna and Kevin Patrick Murphy. Sims and Murphy are experienced council members running for re-election, while McLaughlin and Hanna are new candidates.

McLaughlin works for the Thompson Hine law firm as a lawyer in business litigation and product liability. He represents corporations ranging from aerospace to pharmaceuticals in lawsuits.

McLaughlin completed his bachelor’s degree at Miami University in 2004. He then pursued his law degree at Case Western Reserve University, graduating cum laude in 2007. 

McLaughlin has won many awards, including the School of Law Leadership Award at Case Western, as well as the Frederick K. Cox International Law Service Award. He is a member of Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association and the Defense Research Institute.

Community pride is important to this candidate. He grew up in the University Heights-Cleveland Heights area, he notes, and attended St. Ignatius High School. In 2009, McLaughlin moved back to University Heights with his wife. He says his 21 years in the community give him a good understanding of the city’s needs.

“You need to understand the community you’re running in,” he said.

On McLaughlin’s agenda are many changes he hopes to make, if elected along with his colleagues Sims, Murphy and Hanna. They call their team “Leadership for the Future of University Heights” and they take a long-term view.  

Image deterioration in University Heights is one of McLaughlin’s main concerns, he said in an interview. Many factors contribute to image deterioration, which McLaughlin says can result from a series of problems that create a “snowball effect.”

For example, he notes significant changes at the RTA station near Cedar Center, as well as other locations that are beginning to become run down. Also, the foreclosure crisis has left some homes abandoned, which could lead to crime.

“It takes vigorous leadership and a vision for the future to make sure we don’t start on that path,” said McLaughlin. It is vital to be proactive, he said, so University Heights will keep attracting new residents.

Communication is an issue among current council leaders, he said, and something that is completely vital to the city’s success. McLaughlin comes across as a person who’s at ease, with a bright personality. Because he lacks experience in the politics, he says it is important for him to make voters aware of his other attributes.

Anita Kazarian, a regular attender of University Heights council meetings and columnist for the Heights Observer, said she met McLaughlin for the first time this past July. 

“Conor demonstrated he is an independent thinker who will consider each issue on its own merits and not be a rubber stamp,” said Kazarian. “I also like that he, Steve Bennett and Kevin Murphy are the only candidates I see actively going door to door to talk and listen to the voters.”

Overall, McLaughlin stressed that he is looking to improve University Heights in the long run, by which he means the next 10 to 20 years, to make the city’s future secure.

“It’s going to take hard work,” he said. “I’m youthful. I have a lot of energy. I’m willing to put in the time to better the city.”      

Gina Torek

Gina Torek is a John Carroll University student who is following this candidate for her journalism class. 

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Volume 4, Issue 11, Posted 1:57 PM, 10.25.2011