Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 1-2-2018

JANUARY 2, 2018

  • New council terms
  • New mayor and vice mayor
  • New municipal judge
  • Council member comments
  • Public comments
  • Gas aggregation
  • Civil immigration law panel discussion
  • Development projects


Council members present were Mary Dunbar, Carol Roe, Kahlil Seren, Jason Stein, Cheryl L. Stephens, Michael N. Ungar, and Melissa Yasinow. The meeting lasted from 7:34-8:53 p.m.

New council terms

Stein, Stephens, Ungar, and Yasinow were elected to new terms in the November 2017 general election; the oath of office was administered to each.

New mayor and vice mayor

Council elected Carol Roe to be Mayor (Council President) and Melissa Yasinow Vice Mayor (Council Vice President). Each were elected by a vote of 6 to 1 with Kahlil Seren voting no. After Roe and Yasinow took the oath of office, Mayor Roe assumed the functions of chairing the meeting from outgoing Mayor Stephens.

Michael Ungar had nominated both. In regards to Roe, he stated her nomination was neither change for its own sake nor musical chairs. He cited Roe’s able chairing of the Administrative Services Committee, her quiet efficiency and effectiveness, and her ability to marshal the diverse talents of all members and welcome disagreement and debate. He said she is a good listener and that it is important that she lives in the Noble Neighborhood. He stated the nomination is no criticism of the current mayor or vice mayor. In nominating Ms. Yasinow, Mr. Ungar pointed out that she was the top voter-getter in the election, with 7,000 votes, that she is part of the millennial generation, and the youngest vice mayor in Cleveland Heights history.

Ms. Stephens said that it has been an honor to serve the community that she loves as mayor. She pointed out the style, elegance, and diplomacy of the transfer of power in a democracy.

Mr. Seren shared his thoughts that led to his vote against both candidates, including his concerns about transparency, and his opinion that he had not been given compelling enough reasons to change leadership.

Each member was surrounded by friends and family, and had chosen both the individual to administer the oath and the bible upon which to swear in.

New municipal judge

The Honorable James Joseph Costello took the oath of office of Municipal Judge.

Council member comments

Each member was offered the opportunity to speak. Stephens, Stein, Seren, and Ungar passed. Roe said she was humbled by the confidence of her colleagues and was hoping to gain the confidence of citizens. Dunbar reflected on alternative designs that could be possible for choosing a mayor, such as rotating the position or selecting the highest voter-getter. She noted that although this process is supposed to be non-partisan, her interest in these offices was hampered by the fact that Democratic members of council faced censure by their party if they were to vote for a Republican like herself.

Public comments

Bottled water – Citizens representing the Sustainable Heights Network, Kathy Flora, Ann Caruso, Allen Wilkinson, and Mary Kelsey, presented the council with glass pitchers and drinking glasses for use at their meetings in an effort to encourage less use of water in plastic bottles. They cited problems with the water table in areas where bottling is done, the good effects on the climate of reducing the use of plastic, and the idea that this small change by council sets a good example. They read a letter from Councilman Matt Zone of Cleveland concerning how his city moved away from plastic and styrofoam in its daily operations while applauding Cleveland Heights for doing the same.

Gas aggregation

Three pieces of legislation were passed on second reading to enable the city to enter the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council (NOPEC), approve NOPEC’s bylaws and plan of operation and governance, and execute a natural gas program agreement with NOPEC. Ungar commended city staff, especially Assistant City Manager Susanna Nierman O’Neill, for their due diligence and research work on this matter.

Civil immigration law panel discussion

Seren announced a panel discussion on Jan. 17, 7 p.m., where he and three other participants will appear. The panel discussion will take place at the Cleveland Heights/University Heights Main Library on Lee Road.

[A flyer for this event, which is being presented by the League of Women Voters and cosponsored by the library, is available at]

Development projects

Dunbar announced that a draft agreement on the Top of the Hill project will be final soon and gave brief mention of ongoing discussions about Coventry P.E.A.C.E. Campus and Severance Mall.

The next regular meeting will be Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018, at 7:30 p.m.

Special meeting: Hearing on political influence by corporate entities, “Democracy Day,” will be Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018, at 7 p.m.

LWV observer: Blanche Valancy.

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These reports contain member observation and selected highlights of public meetings and are not official statements of the Heights Chapter of the League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland. This disclaimer must accompany any redistribution of these reports.


Read More on Cleveland Heights
Volume 11, Issue 2, Posted 3:06 PM, 02.06.2018