Kahlil Seren appointed to CH City Council
Cleveland Heights City Council appointed Kahlil Seren to the unexpired term of Janine Boyd, newly elected Ohio State Representative, at its Feb. 17 meeting.
Kahlil Seren is a research and policy analyst for the Cuyahoga County Council. He had previously worked as a communications coordinator for the nonprofit Policy Matters. A five-year resident of Cleveland Heights, he grew up in East Cleveland and Beachwood, and currently resides in the Cedar Fairmount neighborhood. Seren has served on the city’s Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC), which advises council on the spending of Community Development Block Grants from the federal government.
Seren has a bachelor's degree from Cleveland State University and a Master of Science in urban studies from Cleveland State University.
In his application to council, Seren advocated for a “Complete Streets” approach for community development, and an economic development strategy of diversification of the city’s industrial mix to capitalize on its proximity to University Circle. He also said that the city should seek to retain its soul and respect its historical value without rejecting opportunities for “beneficial adaptation.”
“It’s a difficult decision when you have a lot of good candidates,” said Mayor Dennis Wilcox. “I was impressed by his educational background, especially his master's in urban studies, which is important to understanding how government operates. He has served on the CAC, which means he understands the inner workings of the city. I liked his enthusiasm, intelligence and understanding of the issues facing the city.”
Seren said that he was very pleased and excited about the appointment. “Now the really hard part begins,” he said. “It is a combination of doing good governance and communicating clearly enough with people. I want to make sure that residents see that I am working for them.”
Seren said that while some had expressed concern that his position with Cuyahoga County Council might present a conflict of interest, “There are no ethical conflicts. My experience will be complementary and not a conflict.”
Seren said he is looking forward to his work on council. “I’ve been more on the policy side of things,” he noted. “On County Council, I’m focused on finding policy that works and has as few unintended consequences as you can get.”
There were 10 applicants for the position, and CH City Council selected three of those to interview.
The Cleveland Heights Democrats Club had recommended another candidate, Carol Roe, for the position at its Jan. 8 meeting. Roe, a 35-year resident of Cleveland Heights, a registered nurse and licensed attorney, resides in the Noble neighborhood.
The position of city council member is a nonpartisan position, and all members serve at large.
Wilcox said that council appointed the other two candidates it interviewed to the CAC at its Feb. 17 meeting. They are Carol Roe and Cory Farmer.
Seren will chair the Administrative Services Committee of Council, serve as vice president of the Community Relations and Recreation Committee, and be a member of the Municipal Services Committee. Wilcox said that he had changed the committee assignments of other council members. For an updated list, see www.clevelandheights.com/index.aspx?page=302.
Also, during the council meeting, Wilcox presented his 2015 State of the City address.
Seren will serve the remainder of Boyd’s term, which expires Dec. 31, 2015. He said that he plans to run for election on Nov. 3 for a new four-year term. “I’m approaching campaigning with a very open mind,” he said. “I want to talk to as many people as I can, and I want to represent the interests of the city as whole.”
Seren will run for election for one of three open council seats in November. The terms of Council Member Mary Dunbar and Mayor Dennis Wilcox also expire on Dec. 31, 2015, and those seats will be up for election as well.
Although Mayor Wilcox has not made up his mind on whether he will run for reelection, he said, “Right now I’m leaning toward running. I enjoy what I’m doing and want to probably continue.”
Deanna Bremer Fisher
Deanna Bremer Fisher is executive director of FutureHeights and publisher of the Heights Observer.