CH City Council Candidate: Kahlil Seren
2352 Demington Dr. 44106 Age: 36
Education: Master of Science in Urban Studies, Graduate Certificate in Economic Development
Occupation: Policy Analyst for Cuyahoga County Council
Qualifications: Education: Master of Science in Urban Studies, Graduate Certificate in Economic Development. Training: Leadership Academy, LeanOhio Bootcamp. Prior occupation: Communications Coordinator for Policy Matters Ohio.
Community: City Council, Citizens Advisory Committtee, Higher Education Compact of Greater Cleveland, CSU Leadership Academy Society Board
QUESTIONS and RESPONSES:
1. Most important: The most important thing that city government can do for the benefit of Cleveland Heights is to proactively diversify and strengthen our commercial mix through aggressive economic development efforts. Diversification will increase our commercial density without an over-saturation of retail. A stronger commercial sector can have the effect of maintaining resources for public services while reducing the individual cost to residents. As a member of Council, I am working, and will continue to work, to push for hiring an economic development director and form an economic development commission to create and implement a comprehensive development strategy for the city.
2. Privatizing: Cities contract with companies to perform services for residents that the city does not have the capacity to provide in-house; but there are services that are fundamental to our lives, such as safety services (fire and law enforcement) that I would not support turning over to a private company. I place our water infrastructure in that category. The profit motive can be an incentive to provide high quality services, but the need to place downward pressure on costs in order to maximize profits can have the opposite effect. Quality service to residents should be the primary, not the secondary goal.
3. Funding: I voted to place the .25% increase in the income tax on the ballot because I feel that it is necessary not only to avoid large cuts that will certainly impact service delivery, but also to reinvest in economic and community development efforts that will increase our income and property tax revenue base. Better maintained and safer neighborhoods will lead to an increase in property value, improvement and diversification in our commercial sector with a focus on higher wage industry will increaase our income tax revenue and widen our income tax base. That hard work over time will increase revenue.
4. Development: Tax incentives and other considerations from the city can be important tools to attract business and developers to a city. But I believe that it is more important to be able to connect developers and businesses to resources from the County, State, and Federal governments in an efficient way; to provide a location and amenities that allow them to connect with needed labor, customers, or suppliers; and to assist businesses in navigating regulatory hurdles required to do business in the city, county, and state. Tax incentives must be rigorously tracked and evaluated with claw-back language to ensure return on investment.
5. Why you?: I am a patient listener with a desire to find beneficial compromise. I do not believe that I always have the right answer, so I am willing to hear input from people with alternative points of view. I actively practice these skills on Council and in my full time occupation. I am educated and experienced in policy formulation and evaluation. I have developed skills in economic, workforce, and community development. I want to continue to serve on Council in order to really bring my skills and experience to bear on the policy issues in Cleveland Heights.
The material contained in this publication was assembled in the following manner: Questions were selected by members of the League of Women Voters Cuyahoga County - CH-UH Chapter and addressed to the candidates. Word limits were placed on candidates responses. Candidates were informed that their responses would be printed in their own words, which has in fact been done, and that each would be solely responsible for the contents of the replies. For publication, the order of presentation of the candidates is alphabetical with the first candidate chosen by lot and succeeding candidates in continuing alphabetical order.