CH City Council selects new mayor

Dennis Wilcox is sworn in as the new mayor of Cleveland Heights by former mayor Ed Kelley.

At its first meeting in 2014, Cleveland Heights City Council selected Dennis Wilcox to serve as the president of council and the city’s mayor. Council selected Cheryl Stephens to serve as vice president of council and vice mayor.

Wilcox, 61, is a principal with Climaco, Wilcox, Peca, Tarantino & Garofoli Co., L.P.A., specializing in business and corporate law. He has served on council since 2000, most recently as vice mayor.

Stephens, 53, is director of acquisition, disposition and development for the Cuyahoga Land Bank and has served on council since 2010.

That council selected two of its longest-serving members for the positions was expected. Signaling a fresh approach, however, newly elected council member Melissa Yasinow nominated her fellow freshman council member, Jeff Coryell, for vice mayor.

Stephens won handily with five of the seven council votes.

Prior to the selection, five members of council were sworn in. Two re-elected members of council, Cheryl Stephens and Jason Stein, took their oaths of office, and three newly elected members took theirs: Janine Boyd, Jeff Coryell and Melissa Yasinow.

In his acceptance speech, Wilcox noted that the City of Cleveland Heights will celebrate its 100th anniversary in seven years and that the city-manager form of government has served it well. “Our greatest asset is our people who have expressed a dedication to diversity, the arts and sustainability,” he said.

Wilcox stated that the many challenges that the city faces are opportunities. He said that the new city manager is working on a capital budget, but that it would be a challenge to “find the resources to implement this plan with tolerable debt levels."

Wilcox said the city needs to find new sources of revenue and that it would partner with the school district, other cities and the county, and would look for resources outside the city to implement some of its plans.

Wilcox said that while the city has focused its limited resources on renovation and demolition of distressed properties, it now needs to focus on redevelopment of vacant lands, such as the new projects on Edgehill Road and at Cedar and Coventry roads. “The city needs to expand its income tax base, work on promoting our city and communicate our successes,” he said.

Wilcox said that the school facilities bond issue passed by citizens in November 2013 was a “tremendous opportunity” and pledged that the city would work with the district to “exercise oversight to ensure that the new buildings are everything that was promised to the community.”

During the meeting, council announced the committees that each member will serve on for 2014. Melissa Yasinow will chair the Administrative Services Committee, with Janine Boyd as vice chair and Jason Stein as a member. Jeff Coryell will chair the Community Relations and Recreation Committee, with Yasinow as vice chair and Cheryl Stephens as a member. Stephens will chair the Finance Committee, with Mary Dunbar as vice chair and Yasinow as a member. Dunbar will chair the Municipal Services Committee, with Coryell as vice chair and Janine Boyd as a member. Stein will chair the Planning and Development Committee, with Stephens as vice chair and Dunbar as a member. Boyd will chair the Public Safety and Health Committee, with Stein as vice chair and Coryell as a member. For a description of each committee, go to

Yasinow, as chair of the Admistrative Services Committee, announced the names of those residents chosen to serve on the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) for 2014 and the newly formed Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC).

Members of CAC are Jeffrey Bendix, Melissa Bilancini, Vetella Camper, Jessica Cohen, Douglas Dykes, Carol Gibson, Jonathan Goldman, Christine Henry, Benjamin Hoen, Allison McCallum, Marian Morton, Donalene Poduska, Rebecca Price, Kahlil Seren, Amanda Shaffer, Keba Sylla, Steven Tichenal, Diana Wellman, George Witherspoon, Parker Zabell and Kevin Ziegler. The committee has one vacancy—the Canterbury neighborhood is not yet represented.

Members of TAC are Chris Cummings, Marc Lefkowitz, Julie Lustic, Howard Maier, Charles Mosbrook, Sarah O’Keefe, Akshai Singh and Gary Schumacher. The committee will also include a representative from the Regional Transit Authority Board of Directors.

Deanna Bremer Fisher

Deanna Bremer Fisher is executive director of FutureHeights and publisher of the Heights Observer.

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Volume 7, Issue 2, Posted 12:01 PM, 01.07.2014