What CH needs in its elected mayor
A leader does not wait to be appointed or elected. What have you [the candidate] already been leading? Where will you lead us?
We need to move forward into the 21st century, toward a brighter future for Cleveland Heights. Think of an unlimited future, attracting and retaining people, meeting crises, overcoming challenges. Too often I hear people talk in terms of the limits of current problems, shrinking population, and the restrictive framework of our current state and local governments. I never again want to hear someone say, "It is what it is." How will you lead us beyond these issues?
We are diverse even within our neighborhoods. Get to know something about us, not our "type." We do not fit into the pollster’s stereotypes. Don't take a group’s support for granted; you have to earn it.
Cleveland Heights is affected by every crisis and must be part of every solution. “Think Globally, Act Locally” is not just a slogan. There are many things we can do right here to make the world a better place.
The environmental crisis is already upon us. Lead our many concerned citizens to collective action. We have many local groups; a leader should bring us together.
Preserve the good things we already have, such as the urban forest on the Millikin school grounds, and our many parks and playgrounds. Protect and improve green spaces and connect them with natural corridors throughout the city. Incentivize investments in green solutions.
Social justice: Show us that you have thought this through, deeply. A citywide race for one leader can unite the city, or it can expose divisions people try not to see. After decades of deliberately working toward integration, diversity, and inclusiveness, we are ahead of the region, but we still have a long journey ahead of us. This is not about slogans and signs. There is no quick, simplistic solution, so do not offer one.
Economic crisis: The economy is changing in ways that are hard to predict and accommodate. Finding a better way to get reinvestment in our vacant and distressed properties would go a long way. If we destroy our urban forest while ignoring distressed areas right across the street, how would that succeed?
Find better methods. Don’t raise taxes on current residents so you can give tax abatement to new residents; this drives people away more than it brings people in.
The purpose of electing a mayor is to have a full-time leader. There are no quick fixes. No easy paths. No simplistic solutions. How will you lead us forward?
Michael Morse is a longtime resident of Cleveland Heights.