CH City Council Candidate: Mary Dunbar
2880 Fairfax Rd. 44118 Age: 73
Blog: See website.
Education: B.A. Smith College, M.A. Stanford University, MBA Case Western Reserve University
Occupation: Member, Cleveland Heights City Council
Qualifications: Experience gained in first term (2012-15) on Cleveland Heights City Council. Previous professional success in finance, communications and marketing.
Community: President, Heights Bicycle Coalition, which helped achieve League of American Bicyclists recognition of Cleveland Heights as a Bicycle Friendly Community, 2013. Spearheaded a successful application to list the Shaker Farm Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places, 2012.
QUESTIONS and RESPONSES:
1. Most important : Increased homeownership by qualified buyers is already happening, but we need more, citywide. I will personally work to raise awareness of the attractions of living here, and I will advocate for stronger marketing. However, stabilizing City finances to maintain services is the current priority. Without increased revenues, the City will have to eliminate eight police, 12 firefighters and 10 public works positions, and reduce the number of ambulances and fire vehicles in service. The result will be slower response time to 911 calls, only one leaf collection annually, less snow plowing and grass cutting, and reduced housing inspection and enforcement.
2. Privatizing: To increase sustainability, the City must find efficiencies, collaborate with other government entities, and generate new revenue. This never ends, but already the City has replaced internal tax collection with RITA (Regional Income Tax Agency), resulting in lower costs and increased tax collection. Additionally, our City shares dispatch with several neighboring communities and recently switched from being self-insured to the County healthcare plan, which will stabilize costs. Regarding water, as I write this, Council is weighing proposals from three providers to decide which will be best for ratepayers. I will support whichever is in the best long-term interest of residents.
3. Funding: To maintain City services, I favor the income tax increase. In addition, we must attract more employed residents who pay income tax, can buy homes in our City and maintain or improve their houses. Our homeowner base is gaining from the job growth in University Circle and the region. We’re also attracting empty nesters moving from outer suburbs in search of a walkable community with attractive business districts. We must support existing businesses and attract new ones. Among recent successes are major expansions of Simon’s Auto Service and Motorcars Cleveland, and start-up of Emily’s Place employing 40+ healthcare workers.
4. Development: I support the City’s program to make City-owned vacant lots available to adjacent neighbors who want them. Already some new houses have been built on vacant lots, and we need more. I would like to see Severance and Top of the Hill developed as multi-use facilities (complete neighborhoods) and believe developers are interested in that. We are competing with developments in Cleveland that are heavily tax-abated. Employees in University Circle have incentives to live in Cleveland. Requests for tax abatement must be considered case-by-case and be as minimal as possible so as to build our tax base over time.
5. Why you?: I am passionate about keeping Cleveland Heights the place to be for diverse families and residents who love living here as much as I do. All that I’ve learned during my first term on City Council positions me to do even more for our City in a second term. Well informed, careful decision making is my goal. My education and professional success as a leader and team player, in finance, communications and marketing, have enabled positive contributions on Council. I am well informed on Ohio ethics law due to serving on the committee to develop a Cuyahoga County ethics policy.
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.