Mark Wiseman - UH City Council Candidate
4365 Baintree Road, 44118 Age: 48
Education: Ohio State (1988) Cleveland Marshall College of Law (1992)
Occupation: Director NHS Consumer Law Center
Qualifications: My career is spent working with the low-moderate income community, helping them maintain and build wealth.
Community: I’m currently on Council and served on the Charter Review Commission. I have also served on the Vacant & Abandoned Properties Action Council, a collaborative effort of stakeholders from around the County, with the goal of creating a coordinated response to the vacant property crisis.
QUESTIONS and RESPONSES:
1. Issues/opportunities: Estate tax elimination, reduced property values and reduction in State funding is problematic. We need to be proactive in maintaining our services with less money. University Square: The owner is content to have empty storefronts; the parking structure hinders any efforts to attract businesses. We should contact Target and the landlord to determine how we can work together to attract businesses. Foreclosures take a long time. The empty properties created become damaged and laden with violations. We should try to encourage (or force) foreclosing banks and investors to improve their properties, sooner to increase safety and improve property values.
2. Revenue: This concern highlights the need for council and the administration to work collaboratively and proactively. 2014 will be the first calendar year when we receive no estate tax revenue and if the current balance of power in Columbus remains, there will be no relief from the State. We can develop a prospective spending plan that reflects an anticipated reduction in revenue on a go-forward basis. We should identify which capital expenditures we can delay, and be willing to undertake a creative, focused look at all of the City’s departments and procedures to try to minimize the impact on our services.
3. Mergers: Sharing costs/services with other Cities is going to become necessary. What form that sharing takes is unclear. Also unclear is whether we should start with Fire/EMS, garbage pick-up, or something else. Any way we can maximize the funds available, yet maintain our City services should be explored. The ‘Fire merger study’ shed very little light on this question. There is not enough information to pass judgment on this ‘fire merger.’ I am opposed to any plan that even hints at closing the fire station. Council should play an integral part in the discussion, design or consideration of any merger plan.
4. Plan for future: The City can consider economic/business development in proactive fashion. Rather than hope another fast-food chain picks University Heights as a destination, reasonable minds could create ideas that maximize what our City (working with our neighbors) has to offer. We have two Universities and a High School with numerous athletic fields, (soon) a new park on the Northwood site and miles of tree-lined streets. We can view the space at University Square and vacant houses as opportunities. Music/Art Fairs, sporting events that utilize the school facilities, something akin to the Shaker Launch House are all possibilities. Citizen/Developer input could be utilized.
5. School bond issue: Changes are necessary. We do need fewer buildings. I am for capital improvements in the schools and believe this would improve student attitudes and performance and reduce operating costs, in turn making University Heights a more desirable destination for young families. Because the project is so large and so long in scope – and because concrete information about the benefits (monetary and otherwise) is so scarce, I am unable to support it at this time.
6. Why run?: I want to do whatever I can to help this City continue to be a destination for young families and a stable home for those who have been here for years. I am currently on Council and served on the Charter Review Commission. I dedicated the last decade of my career to public service. I worked for people in foreclosure, the Attorney General, was a member of the Federal Reserve’s Consumer Advisory Council and was the designer and original Director of the County’s Foreclosure Prevention Program. My goal is to use my law degree and experience to achieve positive change.