CH needs a full-time mayor
Cleveland Heights needs to elect a full-time mayor. Currently, our part-time city council elects a part-time mayor who has no executive power. The city manager (a full-time position) is hired by city council and runs the day-to-day operations of the city.
Our city has decent city services and a school system that is moving in the right direction. But the problems we have require a full-time elected mayor with the vision, the time and the skills to move our city forward. The problems are:
- Almost no economic development compared to our neighboring cities (look at South Euclid and University Circle). Cleveland Heights is clearly being passed over.
- 150 vacant lots; hundreds of vacant and foreclosed homes; a slower rebound in our previously declining home values; and a very, very slow response to these problems.
- A shrinking population creating a shrinking tax base which puts more of a financial burden on the rest of us.
Here is my argument:
A city manager is not charged with laying out a vision for the city. City council can hire and fire the city manager, but that is not oversight. Our city council members work full-time jobs, just like we do. When they get off work, so do the city employees. There is no day-to-day oversight by an elected official.
Cleveland Heights is a huge enterprise with all the problems that go with inner-ring suburbs. The idea that a part-time city council can lay out and execute a vision for a city this large and complicated is not realistic. Ask any of the council members if they could do their day jobs if they could only devote one-third of the time they currently do to take care of their responsibilities. I couldn't. And no matter what they do for a living, it is less complicated and less demanding than running a large, inner-ring suburb.
City government should be the closest form of government to the people, not the farthest removed. Our country is based on the concept of federalism; that means three levels of government—federal, state and local. Currently, if you have a problem with our city, you tell an unelected, part-time mayor with no executive authority to go to our unelected city manager to resolve the issue.
I have heard people say they are worried that someone would be elected that would not be good for the city. I say, that is our responsibility! I don't care for the current president, but I still want to have a democratically elected government. We have plenty of talent in Cleveland Heights. Don't let anyone tell you that we cannot govern ourselves democratically.
Cleveland Heights has not elected a full-time mayor in more than 100 years. Our city charter has not been reviewed for more than 30 years. The Charter Review Commission needs to hear from you! It meets every first and third Thursday at CH City Hall at 7 p.m. Make your voices heard!
Tony Cuda is a Cleveland Heights resident.