CH City Council elects Stephens mayor; Stein vice mayor

Newly elected Vice Mayor Jason Stein and Mayor Cheryl Stephens hear prayers from clergy.

At its first meeting of 2016, Cleveland Heights City Council swore in its new and re-elected members. It also elected Cheryl Stephens as mayor and president of council, and Jason Stein as vice mayor.

The meeting began with the swearing in of Cleveland Heights City Council members Mary Dunbar, who was elected to a second term in November; Kahlil Seren, who was elected to council after having served, as an appointee, the remaining 10 months of an unexpired term; and newly elected Carol Roe.

The members of council (currently six, with the vacancy created by Jeff Coryell's resignation) then elected Cheryl Stephens as mayor and president of council. She is the second African-American woman to hold that office. Barbara Boyd, who had been elected to council in 1983, was the first.

Stephens said she originally ran for council because, “I wanted to make Cleveland Heights a better place.” Later, she stated that she was “humbled” to be elected mayor.

“Part of the promise of America is that even a little child like me can grow to be mayor, and it is totally unexpected,” she said, adding that “one of the reasons [people] serve is because there is a belief that there is something they can do for people.”

Her friend, Paula Brazil, a longtime Cleveland Heights resident, congratulated her and said that when she first met Stephens, “I knew then you were a force to be reckoned with.” She added that Stephens was one of the hardest-working people she knew, and said, “Like all great servant-leaders, Cheryl Stephens eats challenges for breakfast.”

Stephens, flanked by former mayors Ed Kelley, Alan Rapoport and Barbara Boyd, and by her father and brother, was sworn in by former Mayor Dennis Wilcox.

Jason Stein said that it was a “great honor to be elected vice mayor of the city of Cleveland Heights.” Surrounded by family members, he was sworn in by Janine Boyd, Ohio State Representative and former member of Cleveland Heights City Council.

“I look forward to working with everyone on council to make Cleveland Heights a better city than it is today,” he said.

Council formally accepted the resignation of Jeff Coryell, which was effective Dec. 31, 2015. Council has not yet announced the process and timing to appoint his replacement.

New council committee appointments, which were decided at the work session that took place prior to the council meeting, were announced:

  • Administrative Services: Carol Roe, chair; vice chair is vacant; Mary Dunbar, member.
  • Community Relations & Recreation: chair is vacant; Melissa Yasinow, vice chair; Kahlil Seren, member.
  • Finance: Jason Stein, chair; Mary Dunbar, vice chair; Melissa Yasinow, member.
  • Municipal Services: Melissa Yasinow, chair; Carol Roe, vice chair; member is vacant.
  • Planning & Development: Mary Dunbar, chair; Kahlil Seren, vice chair; Jason Stein, member.
  • Public Safety: Kahlil Seren, chair; Jason Stein, vice chair; Carol Roe, member.

Council Member Melissa Yasinow said that it was “wondering and heartening to see the support of such a wonderful intersection of our community” at the swearing-in ceremony. She added, “I hope you can all see tonight that we have a council that is strong, and hopefully we will live up to our potential to be the council that transforms Cleveland Heights to being that 21st-century city on a hill.”

To view a video of this and other Cleveland Heights City Council meetings, visit the city's YouTube channel at

Deanna Bremer Fisher

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

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Volume 9, Issue 2, Posted 10:46 AM, 01.05.2016