UH council appoints architect John Rach to fill open council seat
On Jan. 4, UH City Council voted to appoint John Rach to the city’s open council seat, which was left unfilled when only three candidates stood for four open seats in the November 2015 general election.
Earlier in the meeting, three council members took oaths of office: re-elected council members Pamela Cameron and Steven Sims, and newly elected Michele Weiss. Council also re-elected Sue Pardee as the city’s vice mayor.
Rach, 31, is a registered architect who has lived in University Heights since 2011. He has served the city in various capacities since 2012, as a member of the board of zoning appeals, a committee member for the new master plan (ongoing), a steering committee member for the NOACA Pedestrian and Bike Friendly Lane Project, and a steering committee member for the new zoning code commission.
As vice mayor, Pardee led the process of selecting an appointee from the 18 residents who applied for the seat by the Nov. 19 deadline. Council members met on Nov. 30 to review the candidates, and then interviewed seven of them on Dec. 8 and 15. Michele Weiss, elected, but not yet seated, participated in the interviews, along with continuing council members Pamela Cameron, Phillip Ertel, Steven Sims and Mark Wiseman.
Rach will hold the seat as an appointee for two years, until Dec. 31, 2017. According to the city charter, he will have to run in the next general election—in November 2017—in order to seek the opportunity to be elected to serve the remaining two years of the seat’s four-year term.
Rach—who graduated from Kent State University with a Master of Architecture, a Master of Business Administration, and a Bachelor of Science in architecture—said, “I believe having an architect on city council is a great fit, as I understand the importance of proper city planning, developing properties for future use and maintaining the beautiful aesthetic of our community.”
Rach is director of marketing for CBLH Design, the firm that the CH-UH Public Library System hired to design the renovations for its University Heights Library.
“As architects,” said Rach, “it’s our nature to be involved in our communities and professional/civic affiliations. If we couldn’t work in those communities, our profession would not stay in business.
“With regard to the UH Library, the firm that I’m currently employed at was hired and contracted to work with the system in the spring of 2015, long before I had any political aspirations. Although I do not believe (and the council [members] who appointed me didn’t either) that there was a conflict of interest because the library is not owned by the city, I have chosen, in good faith, to step aside from the project. In addition, if this project were to appear on any city review meeting, I would recuse myself from the agenda.”
University Heights Mayor Susan Infeld, who was not involved in the process to appoint a new council member, commented on Rach’s prior service to the city: “John served on the Board of Zoning Appeals for three years and was a very engaged member of that body. His professional background as an architect brought a richness to the discussion of issues before the [board]. John has also served the city as a member of the steering committee for the city’s upcoming master plan, and served on the steering committee for the city’s initial work and consideration of updates to the planning and zoning code a few years ago. He is a very friendly person and easy to get along with.”
Kim Sergio Inglis
Kim Sergio Inglis is editor-in-chief of the Heights Observer. She lives in the Shaker Farm Historic District in Cleveland Heights.