Susan D. Pardee candidate for University Heights City Council
SUSAN D. PARDEE
University Heights Age: 60
Education: MBA, Weatherhead School of Management, CWRU
Occupation: Supervisor of Federal Programs and Grants, Cleveland Hts.-University Hts. City School District
Qualifications: Eight years (two terms) on University Heights City Council, the last four as Vice Mayor. Experience in planning and project development; finding funding; managing and reporting on grants, monitoring for compliance; leading groups in successful community-building projects, serving on national and local Boards.
QUESTIONS AND RESPONSES:
1. Unique qualities: I am as engaged and excited about my work on Council as I was the day I was first sworn in. I am committed to continuing the work to ensure the dynamic future of University Heights. My vision for University Heights is of a vital and vibrant city with informed and invested residents, attractive housing, an updated infrastructure , active and full retail centers, and strong relationships among key stakeholders. There is work to be done to achieve this vision. As an experienced member of Council, I want to focus on using surplus funds in innovative ways to enhance services, encourage more home ownership and promote economic development. I have the skills and experience to continue to be an asset to our community. As Vice Mayor, I have worked to build consensus among Council members. I have a history of strong service as an elected official for University Heights: representing residents, leading on important issues, and providing a balance to the administration.
2. Top issues: For the long term health of University Heights, two issues stand out: maintaining financial stability and improving our aging infrastructure. With ongoing reductions in federal, state and other funding, the ability for the city to continue to provide and improve upon quality services is threatened. We must continue to monitor expenditures carefully and ensure that the City is operating using best practices. Financial stability can also be improved by increasing revenue –occupying every retail space and every home. We must develop economic development tools to encourage business growth and home ownership. As a small city, it is a challenge to meet all infrastructure needs, such as repairing all crumbling streets and water main breaks. We lack the resources, budget and capacity of large urbans but have the same needs. We must continue to focus on regional solutions to these local challenges such as collaborating with neighboring cities and urging the County to provide more support.
3. Community concerns: SAFETY: Safety is a critical issue – every member of the community must feel safe. I believe our safety personnel – police and fire – are remarkable and responsive. However, communication must be improved so that when there are “hot spots” in the community, residents are directly and quickly informed and involved. I am a proponent of block watches. University Heights has strong neighborhoods with spirited block parties that can lead the way to the development and support of online neighborhood block watches that can be supported by Nextdoor or a City blog. ROADS: We need to continue to push for a regional shared solution to roads for greater economies of scale as we work to maintain and improve our infrastructure. NUISANCE PROPERTIES: Nuisance properties are a blight for the immediate neighbors, the neighborhood and our entire community. I will urge the review of our current code to investigate where we can strengthen our ability to handle these situations.
4. Financial issues: Financial stability is challenged in Ohio by continuing cuts to the Local Government Fund, ending the collection of Estate taxes, and the ongoing attempt to centralize regional tax collection at the state level. Cities are making up the difference in state and federal shortfalls with local resources. Federal funds such as the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) are on the chopping block and are increasingly competitive. We must focus on both sides of the balance sheet: monitoring costs and increasing revenue. We must remain vigilant in examining costs while maintaining efficiency and examining opportunities for collaboration. Council’s Finance Committee will investigate linking department budgets to performance, designing financial statements that can be used to monitor departments’ performances. Finally, we must develop strong economic development tools with the surplus to attract more businesses and home owners that will yield dividends for the future stability of the city.
5. UH schools: I am a staunch supporter of education: our children are our future. The city must work to develop strong relationships and partnerships with our local public and nonpublic schools. Local schools are critical to the fabric of the community and help attract, retain and build bonds with young families, often offering more than education. UH elected officials and school officials must build and strengthen their relationships. One way is by reestablishing Joint Board meetings – regular meetings of the Cities of Cleveland Hts., University Hts. and the School and Library Boards. To further build and strengthen relationships, council should reach out to local teachers to encourage the development of a youth committee of public and nonpublic students. The youth committee students will get to know one another, and learn about government and local issues. Students can be encouraged to develop and present ideas at council meetings that are designed to enhance the quality of life in the city.
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.