Elected officials comment on Nov. 3 results
On Nov. 3, Cleveland Heights voters approved Issue 53—raising the city’s income tax to 2.25 percent, from 2 percent—with 59.59 percent (7,573) voting in favor. The ordinance goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2016, to support general municipal functions and replace revenue lost through cuts by the State of Ohio.
Cleveland Heights Mayor Dennis Wilcox, who did not seek re-election, stated, “I am thankful to the city’s voters for passing Issue 53; it’s gratifying to know people understood the issue and are willing to invest in our future. This is a victory for our [city] and for the people here. The city can continue to provide the quality of services that citizens deserve.”
Wilcox added, “Council still has to be a good guardian of taxpayers’ money, and must work to try to expand the tax base through business development and housing.”
Wilcox’s term expires Dec. 31; he announced in late July that he would not run for re-election. He has served four consecutive four-year terms on council, and was elected president of council—mayor of Cleveland Heights—in 2014. In Cleveland Heights, city council members elect the city council president.
Mary Dunbar, an incumbent Cleveland Heights City Council member, received the largest share of the vote—26.17 percent—in her successful bid for re-election.
“Voters with passionate political views played a more active role in the city council election this time than has been the case in the past,” said Dunbar. “My personal view is that, at the municipal level of government, we are mostly dealing with ensuring the most cost-effective basic services we can to meet the needs of the community, including police, fire, EMS, road repairs, garbage and leaf pickup, removal of snow from roadways, recreational programs, and so on. These should not be particularly partisan issues.”
She added, “Passage of Issue 53 was far more important than my candidacy. Passing this issue was imperative to maintaining basic city services and financial stability. Our firefighters made an amazing commitment to the campaign; they took a lot of their own personal time to make the case to voters, going door-to-door, serving on phone banks and much more. I have always been impressed by the dedication of our firefighters—now more than ever.”
Carol Roe, newly elected to Cleveland Heights City Council, received the second largest share of the votes, 22.78 percent, behind Dunbar, and ahead of Kahlil Seren, who garnered 19.47 percent. Seren has served on council since February 2015, when he was appointed to fill the seat vacated by Janine Boyd upon her election to the Ohio State legislature.
“I found campaigning for city council exhilarating," said Roe. "I learned so much from studying the issues to be prepared for candidate forums and interacting with voters. I was thrilled by my win, but also humbled by the number of people who helped me. One of my goals is to look for ways to enhance communication between our citizens and government, so that we may together move the city forward.”
In University Heights, where three candidates ran for four open council seats, voters elected newcomer Michele Weiss and incumbents Pamela T. Cameron and Steven Sims. According to the city charter, University Heights City Council will have 30 days to fill the council vacancy, after Jan. 1, 2016. If it does not, the mayor is responsible for the appointment. Council began accepting letters of interest and resumes to fill the council vacancy beginning Nov. 5; the deadline for applying is 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 19.
In addition to council members, Heights voters elected two new members to the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education: James Posch and Beverly R. Wright. Both Posch and Wright were elected to four-year terms. Board members Eric Coble and Nancy Peppler did not run for re-election; each served two four-year terms since being elected in 2007.
Posch, who garnered the most votes (41.34 percent), thanked the community for its support: “This was a big win and we worked really hard. But the real work is ahead of us. We have many challenges to address, but we have many things going for us. We’re in the middle of a world-class facilities upgrade project and our superintendent is a great leader. I’m looking forward to serving and working hard to bring excellence to this district—excellence our students and community deserve.”
Andrea C. Turner
Andrea C. Turner is the Heights Observer e-news editor.