What matters to you in our council members?
Our homes are our sanctuary from the world. But our contentment there can be hard fought.
We’re busy, consumed with thoughts about jobs, kids, repairs, bills and doctors’ visits. Pricking that contentment are outside issues as well. Streets with damaged trees; sinking sewer grates; broken curbs; cracked, crumbling surfaces; and empty storefronts and homes. But your calls to [Cleveland Heights] City Hall go nowhere. Council members don’t respond to your calls or e-mails.
And now, four of those council members are running for re-election this November.
That explains why they suddenly appear at your block parties, group meetings, churches and street fairs. They smile, listen, nod in agreement and understanding, discuss great visions and plans, and are soooooo nice!
But once elected or appointed, however, they disappear. You can see them bi-monthly in recordings of council meetings on YouTube where, bizarrely, all seven members are in total agreement—on everything! No discussions, no debates, no details about legislation or resolutions that pass every time!
Speak to them at these events and you find they either brush you off or never fulfill their promise of getting back to you.
Pre-election, they also describe great visions for the city. We have already been through numerous Visioning, Strategic, or Master Steering commissions that produce plans that promise us everything! Yet, a few years later, we’re back to where we started: no responsiveness from City Hall; vacant houses, commercial and retail spaces; decreasing green space; increasing taxes; mismanagement of our utilities; or a lengthy multi-million-dollar reconstruction of Lee Road that didn’t change anything of substance, but put some stores out of business.
Why do these people want to be on city council?
Just what are their backgrounds, work histories and personal life experiences that makes them understand what you or I go through every day?
And, how will they use those experiences to truly, truly make a difference in the city’s financial state, its operations, its communications, and its openness and transparency?
What legislation did they write or support? What legislation are they working on that will truly make a change?
At those “nice” council meetings, they prattle about Breast-Cancer Awareness month, or African-American month, or Bicycling month, or who is performing at Cain Park. And they are soooo nice.
But is that all that matters to you?
Diane Hallum is an activist and director of Citizens Leadership who believes change in the status quo starts with citizens leading their officials in the right direction.