Melissa Yasinow candidate for Cleveland Heights City Council
Cleveland Heights Age: 33
Education: J.D.--CWRU School of Law, Magna Cum Laude and Order of the Coif; B.A.-- Mt. Holyoke College, Magna Cum Laude; Laurel School
Occupation: Councilwoman, City of Cleveland Heights;Attorney, Kohrman Jackson & Krantz
Qualifications: I currently serve as Councilwoman for the City of Cleveland Heights. I am Chair of the City's Municipal Services Committee, Vice Chair of the Community Relations & Recreation Committee, and Member of the Finance Committee.I am also a sixth-year practicing attorney.
QUESTIONS AND RESPONSES:
1. Unique qualifications: I am currently on Cleveland Heights City Council and I hope that I may be re-elected so that I may continue to support and strengthen my community. I am a fifth-generation resident of Cleveland Heights, and this City represents the past as well as the future for me and my family. Through my four years on Council, I have learned how to work with City staff and other Council members to enable progress and reform (such as the enactment of our Budget Stabilization Fund) while facing local and regional challenges (such as cuts to the Local Government Fund). Additionally, I enjoy listening to, working with, and learning from residents to address the needs of our City.
2. Top issues: As a member of Cleveland Heights City Council, I hope to continue to strengthen the City as it promotes fiscal sustainability and economic development. Cleveland Heights has weathered through the storm of the Great Recession, and I hope that we will be the place that new businesses and new families call home. To do this, we must protect our housing stock and encourage development and sound fiscal practices. I am proud of the work I have done so far on Council, where I serve as Chair of the Municipal Services Committee and a Member of the Finance Committee. Some of the major projects that I am most proud of, and hope to build on, include the establishment of a Budget Stabilization Fund, the development of Top of the Hill, and the execution of an Energy Savings Contract that is projected to save the City $11.5 million over the next 20 years. I intend to work with City staff and other members of Council to promote these initiatives and to seek out new opportunities for our City to grow.
3. Commercial development: City government must be open to working with developers, residents, and already-existing businesses to encourage commercial development where appropriate. When the City owns the land, there is an enormous opportunity to re-shape entire swathes of the community. In Cleveland Heights, we engaged in a lengthy RFQ process to find a developer to build Top of the Hill, which the City owns, and which will hopefully break ground in Spring/Summer 2018. Similarly, we are currently working with our community stakeholders at public forums to determine what could/should happen with the Coventry PEACE Campus, which is owned by the School Board. As for the use of incentives, such as tax abatement, I believe that they should be used strategically to encourage meaningful, long term development in cooperation with the School Board.
4. Safety: I strongly support our police and fire safety services in making Cleveland Heights a safe place to live. I endorsed and worked hard to help pass Issue 53 in 2015, which helped us maintain adequate fire and police staff throughout the City. Further, I support the expansion of bike patrol and security cameras in our business districts, and the creation and expansion of additional interactive events between our citizens and our safety forces. For example, we recently had our fourth annual Safety Forces Night in early August. This was our largest event and it drew in new community organizations that had never before been involved such as Everytown for Gun Safety. Finally, I hope to listen to residents to address their safety and quality-of-life concerns by attending regular community meetings as well as Meet Your Police nights.
5. City finances: As Chair of Cleveland Heights’ Municipal Services Committee and a Member of our Finance Committee, I know first-hand the impact of state and federal cuts to our municipalities. Cities have to be aggressive in preserving and maintaining funding streams, open to new ideas, and willing to work together. In Cleveland Heights, we have endeavored to achieve all of these goals. For example, in 2017, we executed an Energy Savings Contract that will save the City $11.5 million over the next 20 years. Likewise, we have lobbied our state and federal representatives to preserve our funding, whether through Community Development Block Grants or maintenance of the Local Government Fund. Finally, Cleveland Heights has embraced regionalism, working with University Heights, South Euclid, Shaker Heights, and Richmond Heights to create a regional dispatch center for our police and fire services. I support all of these initiatives and hope to help Cleveland Heights address ongoing and future challenges.
League of Women Voters
The 2017 Voters Guide to Candidates and Issues is published as a public service by the League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland, CH-UH and FutureHeights. The League of Women Voters is a non-partisan organization whose mission is to encourage the informed participation by citizens in government. FutureHeights is a nonprofit community development organization. Election Day is Nov. 7, 2017. Polls are open 6:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.