Elected mayor would be a slippery slope
A former African-American Cleveland Heights council member for eight years, and now pastor of StartRightChurch for 13 years, I have stayed away from politics for almost 15 years. I enjoy the ministry that we do in the Caledonia neighborhood.
However, I feel the need to give my thoughts on the upcoming ballot initiative.
I believe that changing our form of government to an elected mayor would be a big mistake and not serve our community well. That type of change, if successful, would take us down a slippery slope and eventually lead to another ballot initiative asking that our city council be changed to an elected ward system. This would also be a big mistake.
The people from Citizens for an Elected Mayor (CEM) want our community to believe that this type of change would benefit our city. They are relying on the lack of knowledge our community has about the city manager form of government to bring them success at the polls. I am praying that our community will not be deceived and [residents] will seek to understand what they currently have before they change to what seems familiar.
If I were still a politician and only cared about winning and political power, I would be the first to support these types of changes. In fact, if we had this type of government, I would still be the council member of Ward 5, where I always produced the most votes over my peers. My goal would have been to please only the part of the city that elected me, and it would have been at the expense of the rest of the city. And it would have been petty politics at its worst.
The best thing about our city government, and what most people don’t understand, is that our council members, from different corners of the city, come together from all ethnic, social and economic backgrounds to work for the betterment of the entire city. This includes hiring, directing and evaluating the work of the city manager.
As a council member, I received some of my best ideas from talking to residents, taking their ideas to our council committees and working out the details. Once approved by a majority of council, we instructed the city manager to get the job done with the knowledge and expertise of city staff.
Our city government is not perfect, but it is perfect for our community. We benefit from having a professional city manager who does not have to be concerned about running a campaign every four years, or accepting campaign contributions from people who might one day look to do business with the city.
We benefit from having stability in city hall that is not jeopardized every time there is an election for mayor.
We benefit from not having to deal with politically motivated hirings that come with any elected official who rewards supporters after a victory. Not to mention the possible need for a transition team and chief of staff.
It is ironic that members of Citizens for an Elected Mayor took issue with what they deemed a questionable donation made to Cleveland Heights Citizens for Good Government. This is the same type of contribution issues and questions that will plague an elected mayor but will never be an issue with a city manager.
Please vote NO on changing our government to an elected mayor.
Jimmie Hicks Jr. and his wife, Lynda, have been married for 29 years and have four sons and one daughter. Hicks was the first African-American man elected to Cleveland Heights City Council. He founded Start Right Ministries Inc. in 2000.