Cleveland Heights Age: 42
Campaign phone: (216) 307-7090
Education: Master of Science in Urban Studies (Law and Public Policy Specialization) and Graduate Certificate in Urban Economic Development, Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs, Cleveland State University; Bachelor of Arts, Psychology/Political Science, Cleveland State University; Professional Development: Economic Development Finance Professional Certification; Lean Six Sigma Certification; Federal Bureau of Investigation Citizens Academy; Levin College Leadership Academy XXII
Current occupation: Policy Advisor
Qualifications: Policy Advisor (6/2011-Present), Cuyahoga County Council; City Council Member (2/2015-Present) and Council Vice President (1/2020-Present), City of Cleveland Heights; Communications Coordinator (3/2007-6/2011), Policy Matters Ohio
Volunteer activities: Executive Committee Member, Cuyahoga County Democratic Party (3/2015-Present), political leadership body responsible for evaluating and endorsing Democratic candidates in Cuyahoga County. Secretary-Treasurer, Cuyahoga County Community Improvement Corporation Board of Trustees (8/2017-Present), not-for-profit, quasi-governmental organization with the sole purpose of advancing, encouraging, and promoting the industrial, economic, commercial, and civic development of Cuyahoga County; the Corporation serves as Cuyahoga County’s review agent for industrial revenue bond financing and economic development loan activity. Cleveland Neighborhood Progress Policy & Advocacy Advisory Committee (9/2016-Present), group providing policy guidance to Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, the City of Cleveland’s community development funding intermediary organization. Center for Population Dynamics Advisory Board (4/2015-6/2018), (Member, Real Estate Development Committee), Board Member at Cleveland State University Research Center focused on competitive development through the lens of migration, applied demography, and cultural trends. City of Cleveland Heights Citizens Advisory Committee (1/2013-2/2015), assists in the evaluation and preparation of the CDBG yearly application, participates in monitoring the implementation of the CDBG program, and reviews the City’s annual CDBG budget. Higher Education Compact of Greater Cleveland (2012-2019), (Member, Operations Committee), determines the objectives and direction of the Compact, provides oversight of Compact Executive Director and ensures the successful completion of goals by the Compact partners and task forces. Cuyahoga County Veterans’ Employment Transition Team (2012-2014), voluntary organization of service providers and employers using shared information to work toward the goal of connecting U.S. military veterans to civilian employment; helped develop and fund the United Way of Greater Cleveland 2-1-1 Help 2 Veterans Line. Strategic Workforce Alignment Group (2013), created by the Cleveland/Cuyahoga County Workforce Investment Board (WIB) to design and implement strategies to address information, skill, and location gaps that constrain the alignment of workforce supply and demand.
What do you consider to be an effective working relationship between the elected mayor and members of City Council?
The working relationship between the elected mayor and members of council must be based in mutual respect (both for the roles and for the people holding the positions), shared information, and a healthy friction between branches of government. To facilitate that respect and ensure that healthy friction doesn’t devolve into dysfunction, the mayor will need deep, functional knowledge of the powers and responsibilities of both branches and a dedication to not overstepping the executive role. As an experienced legislator, I’ve learned that the exchange of information between branches is vital to an effective relationship and informed decision-making. As the first mayor I will not attempt to steer the council by artificially restricting critical information. That being said, there will be times when the council and the mayor are not aligned; reliance on a shared understanding of the separation of powers and open debate on the issues will help to turn that friction into effective compromise.
What opportunities do you see for regional collaboration between Cleveland Heights and other local governments to provide services or facilities?
In order to more efficiently provide quality services to our residents, local governments will have to pursue collaborative opportunities. As mayor, I will be an active participant in our existing collaborative structures like the First Suburbs Consortium, the Ohio Municipal League, and the National League of Cities. Opportunities for collaboration with our neighboring communities include: shared facilities and fleet maintenance with University Hts., CH-UH Schools, and Heights Libraries, regionalizing our Building Dept., shared animal control and mental health emergency response in partnership with the County, proactive violence interruption, non-violent resolution services, road and bridge repair planning and implementation, economic development planning and incentives in business districts at our northern and eastern borders, capital equipment sharing, and shared bond issuance. This list is not exhaustive but illustrates that there are ample opportunities for regional collaboration.
What, if any, specific actions would you recommend the city take to reverse the decline of its aging housing?
Protecting and enhancing housing in the city requires a dual focus on progress and preservation. As mayor I will make targeted housing code enforcement on investment properties a priority, while identifying and providing access to technical and financial resources to homeowners who are experiencing difficulty maintaining their homes. A complementary strategy I will pursue is an aggressive marketing and engagement campaign aimed at housing developers to update and diversify the age and quality of the housing we have available in Cleveland Heights. Part of this holistic strategy is a focus on city support for public improvements in coordination with residential development, neighborhood amenities (both public and business district-based) and neighborhood programming to increase community cohesion and resident buy-in, specifically in areas of our city that need more public support. All of these activities will strengthen our housing submarkets and improve quality of life.
What is your vision for the redevelopment of Severance Center, and what city actions would be necessary to facilitate that vision?
The scale of the site can accommodate a combination of a new residential neighborhood (single family and/or higher density), new office use, and additional commercial. Working with residents, the city must create a rough outline of the preferred uses for the property. My vision includes new office development to further diversify our tax base, using proximity to University Circle as a draw (15 min. from highway access, 20 min. from downtown). Once the city understands community priorities, we can begin energetically courting developers who have the capacity to develop all or part of the site. On a parallel track, the city must respond to the current owner’s business model and level of investment. The lack of investment is dependent on a lack of aggressive enforcement of city code. We must create new regulatory tools to disincentivize stagnation. If the city makes the current model less attractive as a low-cost investment, we can increase the likelihood of successful redevelopment.
What role should environmental considerations play in the city's policies and actions?
Environmental considerations should play a major role in all of our city’s policies and actions. I recently introduced, and Council passed, a resolution approving a partnership with Power a Clean Future Ohio and setting a goal to reduce the city’s carbon emissions by 30% by 2030. The mayor is tasked with coordinating our city’s progress toward that goal, using the technical expertise made available through our PCFO partner and recruiting the expertise in our own community. Whenever the city seeks to develop land, make capital improvements, make changes to our zoning regulations, or offer incentives for business creation and growth, we should proactively and intentionally include an environmental analysis in our decision-making process. That analysis should not just consist of an examination of the expected environmental impact of the proposal, but alternatives that minimize negative environmental impact or maximize positive environmental impact (e.g. reforestation at Severance).
All candidate information has been submitted by the candidates themselves.
League of Women Voters
The 2021 Voters Guide to Cleveland Heights Mayoral Candidates is published as a public service by the League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland, FutureHeights and the Heights Observer. The League of Women Voters is a non-partisan organization whose mission is to encourage the informed participation by citizens in government. FutureHeights is a nonprofit community development organization and publisher of the Observer. Primary Election Day is Sept. 14, 2021. Polls are open 6:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.