Basic services must remain a priority for new mayor
Cleveland Heights soon will elect a mayor for the first time since the 1920s. As former CH City Council president with the official title of mayor, I worked closely with city managers. I understand the wide scope of activities conducted by local government. I know the important role a new mayor will play. An entirely new system of government must be created for our city without guidance from tradition or experience. At stake is nothing less than the health, welfare and safety of all Cleveland Heights residents.
Our community must choose wisely. It must elect the candidate to lead a municipal corporation with a $50-million budget, and hundreds of employees. That choice should be based on credentials. It should not be based simply on the usual vague political statements about hopes and dreams.
Our new mayor primarily must pay attention to the basics. City resources supply us with police, fire, ambulance, refuse, snow- and leaf-removal services. They maintain streets, water and sewer lines, public buildings, and many vehicles and other equipment. I used to call this the “cake.” Other resources are “frosting” on the cake—such as our fine recreation program, our excellent city parks, our caring Office on Aging, and our continuing efforts to assure City Hall is open, accessible and accountable.
Frosting on the cake makes our community special. But in the end, the cake is what good government is all about. There is a traditional Cleveland Heights understanding: We pay high taxes, and we expect good, basic services in return. We should expect our new mayor to abide by that understanding.
The new mayor must have sufficient experience, temperament, and leadership ability to identify, hire and supervise a city administrator to manage day-to-day operations. Also, the new mayor must articulate a productive vision for Cleveland Heights, and demonstrate an ability to work with city council.
In the end, it will be that mayor’s most important responsibility to guarantee that public money is spent prudently. For this reason, voters deserve to know in advance of the election how each candidate plans to assure that excellent basic services remain a priority.
I grew up in Cleveland Heights and I still live here. I want our city to succeed; with the right choice for mayor, it can.
Alan Rapoport, a longtime resident of Cleveland Heights, served on CH City Council (1980–87) and as mayor (1982–87).