Opinion

How a CH council appointment became an election

Mary Dunbar resigned from Cleveland Heights City Council on Aug. 16, effective immediately.

That was about 78 days before the upcoming general election on Nov. 2, where a mayor and four council members will be elected.

The very next day, the city issued a press release announcing that applications were being accepted to be considered for appointment to the remaining two years (plus a little more) of the term.

I saw that press release on FaceBook, and decided to read the city's charter to see if that was correct. I've read that paragraph previously, so already had my doubts.

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 10:13 AM, 09.16.2021

Moore announces run for vacant CH council seat

I’m excited to announce my candidacy for the unexpired term of the vacant CH City Council seat.

But let’s begin with the elephant in the room: I ran for mayor. While I am proud of my campaign—that I focused on my own message, ideas and vision, and did my best to raise the level of dialogue—I reached a point when I knew I had gone as far as I could in the race for mayor. Because I want the results of that election to accurately reflect what Cleveland Heights residents want for our city, I felt that the right thing to do was to pull out of the race.

One could say that—in running for such a high-profile office before living here long enough to create the kind of community network needed for a successful campaign—I had put the cart before the horse. Or perhaps my mayoral campaign created a horse for a future cart. Little did I know that the cart would pull up so soon.

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 10:12 AM, 09.16.2021

Good lake, bad lake

We have two well-loved lakes in the Heights—Lower Lake and Upper Lake (Horseshoe Lake) of Doan Brook. They were created in the early 1800s as mill ponds for the Shaker Societies’ water-powered mills. By the early 1900s the land, renamed Shaker Heights Parkland, became the property of Cleveland, but only on the condition it be reserved and protected continuously for the public use. Shaker Heights and Cleveland Heights embraced the land’s beauty and unique recreational value, and gained responsibility for it by lease agreement. Caretakers and visitors over time seemed to agree that the two lakes are the crowning glory of this parkland.

Fast forward to 2021. Horseshoe Lake has suddenly been taken from us, and we deserve to have it back. The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) drained it quickly a few years ago, without warning, saying it was to fix the dam, and would be temporary. But the water is still missing.

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 10:44 AM, 09.14.2021

Seren should be CH's first elected mayor

Kahlil Seren wants every street in Cleveland Heights to see the street sweepers, not just the ones lined with mansions. 

The mayoral candidate unveiled this “radical” position at a backyard meet-and-greet, after an attendee noted disparities in street services between affluent and less-affluent neighborhoods. She wanted to know what he would do about it if elected mayor.

Kahlil had an answer. He almost always has a well-thought-out answer, and when he doesn’t, he is ready to listen and learn. 

Kahlil honed a simple strategy for governance at the Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University, at Policy Matters Ohio, as an advisor to Cuyahoga County Council, and serving on Cleveland Heights City Council.

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 9:56 AM, 09.09.2021

Moore endorses Seren for CH mayor

On a personal level, I really like all three candidates for mayor. I have spoken with Barbara, Melody, and Kahlil, and each cares deeply for this community, has their own distinct leadership style, boasts an impressive résumé that will be useful to our incoming administration, and presents a compelling vision for the future of our city.

While I see the strengths of each candidate, I am endorsing Kahlil for two reasons. First, his values and vision most closely align with what I believe in and want for our city, and second, of these three candidates, he has the most experience working in government.

Voting one’s values is important because, as 2020 showed us, we can’t predict what the future will bring. When we elect people whose values are most like our own, we can rest assured that, when the unexpected happens, they will make decisions we can feel good about. I am confident that Kahlil’s progressive values will serve us well, come what may.

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 9:54 AM, 09.08.2021

Cedar-Lee-Meadowbrook plan includes green space

Pedestrian-oriented retail districts work best when they are continuous, encouraging shoppers to walk from storefront to storefront, from block to block. Lee Road, south of Cedar Road, is one of those vibrant, walkable retail and restaurant districts.

Placing a wide, block-long park in the middle of the Lee Road retail district would interrupt the flow of shoppers and diners walking along Lee Road and would, therefore, detract from the vibrancy of our retail district.

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Volume 14, Issue 9, Posted 8:08 AM, 09.03.2021

In support of mayoral candidate Hart

I am writing to vigorously support Melody Hart for our first [elected mayor]. This enthusiasm comes from my perspective and experience working with her on the Greater Cleveland Congregations (GCC) Cleveland Heights Housing Team for seven years.

[Others] who endorse Melody have spoken [of] her solid fiscal management skills, her executive skills set, and her contextual knowledge of Cleveland Heights. I am focusing on the way I know her best: As a person for others.

Melody is a person for neighborhoods. Long before this campaign, Melody walked every street in the Noble neighborhood. In doing this she demonstrated empathy for neighbors who were seeing their housing values deteriorate. She collaborated with neighbors [on a] badly neglected, vacant, investor-owned property that had been so since 2009. Her research efforts significantly led to resolving this case.

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Volume 14, Issue 9, Posted 8:16 AM, 09.03.2021

Make Horseshoe Lake more like nature center

I am excited to hear about an option to replace the dam at Horseshoe Lake, because I feel it represents a serious effort to mitigate climate change and the impact of extreme weather events that we’re seeing with more regularity, such as flooding of our local watersheds.

By removing the dam, we open up the possibility of Doan Brook supporting a more diverse ecosystem, along with more stormwater capture and a more equitable use of limited resources.

The city will need the $34 million that is estimated [as the cost] to replace the dam if we are to address the nearly $1 billion of infrastructure work ahead to meet the stormwater and sewer separation goals in the EPA consent decree signed by the city.

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Volume 14, Issue 9, Posted 8:15 AM, 09.03.2021

Resident recommends book on deniers of climate-change

The following is a letter that I sent to the candidates for the Cleveland Heights mayoralty:

As you develop your policies on climate change and the carbon "footprint," please read The Deniers: The world-renowned scientists who stood up against global warming hysteria, political persecution, and fraud.

A colleague who saw me reading this book inquired if it is about the ignorant, and I had to correct him: they are not at all ignorant; they are, or were, highly trained, educated, experienced, published professionals.

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Volume 14, Issue 9, Posted 8:13 AM, 09.03.2021

Cedar Lee resident and business owner supports development

I support Flaherty & Collins plan for the Cedar-Lee-Meadowbrook development project. I own CLE Urban Winery in the Cedar Lee Business District, and I own a home within the district as well. My life and my life savings are both, literally, invested in Cedar Lee, so I have a great deal of personal and professional skin in this game. I am making this statement on my own, but I have discussed this with other district merchants who share and support this opinion.

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Volume 14, Issue 9, Posted 8:12 AM, 09.03.2021

Library's mask policy protects visitors

Heights Libraries and its Board of Trustees, along with the Cuyahoga County Public Library System, the Cleveland Public Library System, and Shaker Heights Public Library, recently reinstated a face-mask requirement for all visitors over the age of 2. The decision was made for the following reasons:

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a statement that the Delta variant of COVID-19 is prevalent in all 50 states;
  • According to the CDC COVID Data Tracker, Cuyahoga County has a substantial rate of COVID transmission, and county cases have increased by 23.84% in the last seven days (as of Aug. 23);
  • The CDC has been recommending that people who have not received a COVID vaccine wear a mask at all times; it is now also recommending, in areas of “substantial” or high risk of transmission, that even fully vaccinated people wear a mask indoors. This includes people older than 2.
  • Children under the age of 12 cannot yet receive the vaccine. Masking in the library helps keep young visitors safe.
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Volume 14, Issue 9, Posted 9:41 AM, 09.02.2021

The Heights need Horseshoe

Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights are poised to lose Horseshoe Lake, a precious and beloved historical, natural and recreational landmark.

In the late 1960s, citizens protested and rallied to save the Shaker Lakes from freeway construction. Some 2,000 Heights residents crowded into a public meeting at Byron Junior High on a cold January day in 1970 to demand a stop to Albert Porter’s freeway plans. Gov. Rhodes saw the writing on the wall and scrapped the project.

Today, however, the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) and “environmentalists” have found just the right triggers to inspire citizens to go along with destroying the lake and “remeandering” the stream: It’ll be“natural, the way it was thousands of years ago;” saving Horseshoe will cost more than Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights can possibly afford; “rich folks” who live there will be the ones who benefit.

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Volume 14, Issue 9, Posted 10:02 AM, 09.02.2021

County council's Stephens endorses Seren

In August 2019 I encouraged the residents of our city to vote to change our municipal charter so that the community could elect a mayor, not have one appointed by the members of city council. The issue to amend the charter was approved by more than 60% of the voters in that election. At that time, I wrote that I would not seek election to the office of mayor in 2021, and I haven’t.

It was my sincere hope that the rich diversity of people who are the residents of Cleveland Heights would encourage several members of the community who are smart, intelligent, hardworking, and strong leaders to run for the office of mayor. That came true, in that there were some incredibly positive discussions about who should run and what were good criteria for the evaluation and selection of a mayor.

Since the beginning of this year, I have been committed to supporting a vibrant election process.

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Volume 14, Issue 9, Posted 9:51 AM, 09.02.2021

Another life tragically lost

On Aug. 9, a 13-year-old boy from Wisconsin was shot and killed while visiting family in Cleveland Heights.  This tragic loss breaks my heart and I offer my deepest condolences to his family and friends.  

According to Police Chief Mecklenburg, this was not a random or accidental event. A 14-year-old boy has been arrested in connection with this crime and a 16-year-old, who is also wanted, remains at large. 

Whenever there is the loss of a young life, several questions arise, but none have easy or simple answers.

First, we have to wonder, how did a 14-year-old gain access to a gun?

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Volume 14, Issue 9, Posted 12:20 PM, 08.23.2021

Let's talk about the 'T' word

When I moved here, I was struck by two things. First—what a great town with walkable, bikeable streets; great housing; great business districts; a wonderful park system; and more. This was my dream city.

But then there is the T word—Taxes. Sticker shock! In Michigan and in Chicago, my property taxes were far less than my mortgage payment. I had no municipal income tax, and city services were comparable to Cleveland Heights services.

Here the property tax bill was greater than the mortgage payment, and I had to pay an income tax.

When the city increased the income taxes, I decided to move.

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Volume 14, Issue 9, Posted 12:19 PM, 08.23.2021

State Rep. Boyd endorses Seren

Long before and after Issue 26 passed in 2019, we all weighed in on what and who Cleveland Heights will and won’t need. The time has come now for us to choose who among us will lead our beloved, diverse, tattered but not torn, inner-ring suburb to the next phase of our reinvention. Our votes on Sept. 14 will represent who we know we can be and who we believe can effectively, knowledgeably, and unabashedly launch us and lead us on our journey. That is why I support Kahlil Seren’s candidacy.

When I left city council for the statehouse in 2015, I knew Cleveland Heights was in good and capable hands with Kahlil. Since that time, I’ve watched him grow into a conscientious leader and emerge a seasoned legislator with invaluable institutional knowledge. While I had hoped he’d consider succeeding me at the statehouse, I understand that his commitment to Cleveland Heights must take precedent at this time.

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Volume 14, Issue 9, Posted 12:21 PM, 08.23.2021

Parents question library's mask requirement

When did it become the norm for our library to dictate what medical device is appropriate and necessary for children? From where is this authority granted?

The CH-UH Library Board of Trustees has again decided to make decisions regarding the health of residents. Last year's mask requirement was made in consideration that, until a vaccine was available, rules needed to be in place to protect staff. Then and now, the board did not honor a portion of the governor’s executive order: allowances for medical exceptions and that the order did not apply to children under the 10. 

Currently, library policy requires all over the age of 2 to wear a mask. Isn’t this shockingly wrong to anyone else?  

Why is it acceptable for a board to tell you what medical devices are safe and necessary for your child?

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Volume 14, Issue 9, Posted 12:15 PM, 08.23.2021

Sept. 14 is first of two important CH elections

We—Tony Cuda and Jack Newman—do not agree on much, but we are both passionate about the importance of Cleveland Heights voters getting to the polls on Sept. 14, to weigh in on the city's first-ever mayoral primary election.

You see, Newman is the former chair of the city's Charter Review Commission (CRC), and Cuda is the former campaign manager for Citizens For An Elected Mayor (CEM). The CRC was assembled in 2017 to review the Cleveland Heights charter and make recommendations to city council. After 18 months, the CRC voted, by an overwhelming margin, to keep the city manager form of government. CEM then turned around and put the issue [of changing the city’s form of government] on the ballot in November 2019. Cleveland Heights voters decided, with 64 percent voting yes, to change the charter to an elected mayor government. 

We do both agree, however, that in order for this new government to be successful, voters must make their voices heard.

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Volume 14, Issue 9, Posted 12:53 PM, 08.16.2021

Danforth rises above other candidates

Three candidates want to become mayor. With early voting underway and the Sept. 14 primary nearing, to narrow the field to two for the Nov. 2 general election, it’s time to compare their records, achievements and qualifications.

The mayor must bring together the administration, council, community and outside stakeholders, building consensus along the way whenever possible. Barbara Danforth has demonstrated she can collaborate and get things done. Kahlil Seren has brought an interesting and sometimes useful perspective to city council. But I have concerns how he could work effectively with council as mayor. He has a record of offering legislation without building support, which led council to take the unprecedented action of preventing anyone from introducing legislation without the support of at least two members.

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Volume 14, Issue 9, Posted 9:38 AM, 09.02.2021

Hart supports our public schools

Currently serving on CH City Council, Melody Joy Hart is experienced. As a certified public accountant, she understands finances. She has posted a platform that names the essential issues facing Cleveland Heights: strong housing, racial equity, fiscal responsibility, economic development, strong public schools, and transparent leadership.

Hart pledges to consider racial equity and the long impact of structural racism in every decision facing Cleveland Heights. She will help us continue to realize our long-held ideals of equity and inclusion.

The primary reason I will be voting for Hart for Cleveland Heights mayor, on Sept. 14, is her declared support for our public schools.

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Volume 14, Issue 9, Posted 9:35 AM, 09.02.2021

College senior endorses Danforth

Having been sent home from college in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I have had the opportunity to spend an unexpected amount of time in my hometown of Cleveland Heights. As a young adult, I have gained an increased appreciation for the unique offerings of this city: a diverse community; a vibrant arts scene (even in the time of pandemic); small businesses and restaurants within walking distance; and close proximity to big-city amenities at affordable prices, compared to what can be found in the areas surrounding Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. Such factors are why I, at times, surprise those who ask the question, “Where will you live long-term following college graduation?” by answering that, although I hope to see the world outside of Ohio after 21 years in the state, I can easily imagine returning to Cleveland and Cleveland Heights, and continuing to call this city my home. 

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Volume 14, Issue 9, Posted 9:31 AM, 09.02.2021

Maple Heights mayor endorses Seren

I enthusiastically endorse Kahlil Seren for mayor of Cleveland Heights because I believe that he is the most experienced and prepared mayoral candidate. He has the transferrable skills—in advocacy and research, budget and policy, and economic development—needed to be an effective and successful CEO.

During my time as Maple Heights mayor, all of my interactions with and observations of Kahlil have left me with an admiration of his impressive professionalism, a greater respect for his commitment to public service, his voice in leadership, and his courage to make important decisions.   

A strong mayor listens and lifts up the people in their city, and then acts to ensure a Return on Investment (ROI) for all the stakeholders in the city: residents, businesses and visitors.

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Volume 14, Issue 9, Posted 9:33 AM, 09.02.2021

CH council has problems with math

It would appear that Cleveland Heights City Council has a problem with math, which is not something you want to hear about those who handle tax dollars.

When I plot out all of the publicly available revenue numbers for Top of the Hill (TOH) for 33 years, I find how the city comes to the conclusion that the project will generate approximately $14.3 million, but that is the GROSS amount, not net.

When I deduct the lost parking revenue for 30 years combined with the cost of the $1.85 million “gift” to the developer, totaling approximately $3.95 million, this means the total NET revenue to the city is inflated by 38%, and the “annual” revenue (not the one-time construction-related monies) is inflated by 45%.

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Volume 14, Issue 8, Posted 3:33 PM, 07.30.2021

How CH's sewer system is like a boat

Ever hear the one about a boat? "A boat is a hole in the water you throw money into."

The on-land equivalent of that is a sewer system—especially when your city has neglected the sewer system for decades, and has finally entered into a $570 million consent decree with the EPA that will take decades to complete. (www.cleveland.com/community/2021/05/federal-consent-decree-on-cleveland-heights-sewer-overhaul-will-stretch-out-over-many-decades.html.)

The current Cleveland Heights City Council is strongly considering taking $28 million of the $38.8 million American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) windfall to apply toward that $570 million.

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Volume 14, Issue 8, Posted 3:31 PM, 07.30.2021

Where is the night in University Heights?

Used to be we could sit outside at night and see stars, maybe not the Milky Way, but still, lots of stars. Where did they go? Where did the dark sky go? Since the 1990s, our municipal governments have neglected to keep up with a looming problem facing most of the Heights, outdoor light pollution.

Our elected officials aren’t even aware of the growing dangers to health, safety and the environment of outdoor light pollution. This is an important quality-of-life issue for us.  

University Heights’ elected officials have a unique opportunity to ensure we will not contribute to growing health, safety and environmental problems. They can do this by writing outdoor lighting codes to protect us. Cities such as Flagstaff, Ariz., have codes already in place. Why not use them as models?

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Volume 14, Issue 8, Posted 3:27 PM, 07.30.2021

Resident and former 'Coventry kid' endorses Seren

It is with pleasure that I am endorsing City Council Vice President Kahlil Seren to become the first mayor of the city of Cleveland Heights.

The future of Cleveland Heights is important to me. I grew up in Cleveland’s Kinsman neighborhood, but I spent a lot of time in Cleveland Heights at my grandfather’s home; so my summers were spent catching frogs in the marshy fields that buttressed his street, and my winters were spent sledding with my sisters and cousins in Cain Park. In high school, when my family moved to the Superior and Coventry section of East Cleveland, I was one of the many kids dressed in black buying CDs at the Record Exchange and Record Revolution, or sitting for hours in the Arabica coffee shop on Coventry, or outside the Grog Shop. When I moved back to Greater Cleveland in 2020, after living primarily in NYC since 1999, I purchased a home on the very same street of my grandfather’s home.

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Volume 14, Issue 8, Posted 3:25 PM, 07.30.2021

'The time is now' to positively impact environment

I believe the science that our increasing carbon footprint is destroying the ecosystem of the earth, and that climate change is real. But trying to determine how, as individuals, we can develop an environmentally friendly lifestyle often seems overwhelming. 

Several years ago, while visiting east and west Africa, I came to a fuller appreciation that clean water is a valuable and finite resource. When I returned home, I made a point of turning off the water while brushing my teeth and washing my hands, to save water. 

When my husband and I landscaped our backyard, we included a rain garden. We learned that rain gardens remove pollutants from stormwater, recharge the groundwater supply, and are a natural habitat for birds and pollinators.

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Volume 14, Issue 8, Posted 3:19 PM, 07.30.2021

Danforth's leadership is key skill for new mayor

There are four candidates vying to be Cleveland Heights’ first elected mayor. Each cites their particular expertise in civic engagement, government experience and managerial skills, all under the banner of “proven leadership.” While expertise and strong, relevant experience are absolutely required, expertise and experience are simply not enough. Much more is needed, particularly at this time of transition.

To be an effective mayor of a city with a $62-million budget and 440 employees, our first elected mayor must be able to truly lead and inspire our city staff and our community. In my experience, the most effective leadership approach for a local government leader is a focused combination of transformational and strategic leadership.

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Volume 14, Issue 8, Posted 3:17 PM, 07.30.2021

We need to embrace sustainability

Cleveland Heights is the tree city and is walkable and bikeable. Those things define us, and they are three of the things that attracted me to move here.

The housing density, mix of land uses, and walkability of Cleveland Heights—not to mention our location among so many amenities—makes it a great place to live. We must preserve and enhance these land-use advantages while making the city greener and helping everyone transition to renewable energy sources.

Sustainability needs to be ingrained in the culture of the government. Everything we all do as a city or as individuals affects our sustainability.

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Volume 14, Issue 8, Posted 3:15 PM, 07.30.2021

Hart has it all

I am supporting Melody Hart for Mayor of Cleveland Heights because she is the single candidate that checks all the boxes.

As part of my work on the Citizens for an Elected Mayor (CEM) Transition Subcommittee, I worked with Council Member Hart, who brought neighboring mayors together [for a forum] to discuss what leadership should look like, and I saw firsthand how she got the job done in a collaborative manner. This is her strong point and why she's earned praise from city staff.

Rather than sounding off on an issue, she investigates and works behind the scenes to gather information and bring people together, a trait stressed at the forum.

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Volume 14, Issue 8, Posted 3:13 PM, 07.30.2021

Two candidates will prioritize sustainability and equity

I am writing to express my opinion about the upcoming Cleveland Heights mayoral race, the first in the city’s history. It is a historic moment that the city’s first executive leader will need to face with demonstrative skills, including no small amount of vision and creativity when it comes to governing a small inner-ring suburb with diverse demographics in age, race, and economic standing.

Cleveland Heights has a lot of strengths, as identified by the city’s brand study (trees, beautiful homes, walk- and bike-friendly streets), and “macro” challenges, such as a declining population in a region that has emphasized sprawl development and inequitable distribution of resources from the state to local governments and public schools.

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Volume 14, Issue 8, Posted 3:08 PM, 07.30.2021

Danforth has necessary practical experience

In November 2019, the voters of Cleveland Heights voted to amend the city charter and directly elect a mayor, to provide the city with more centralized management and focused accountability. At the same time, voters provided for hiring a city administrator reporting directly to the mayor.

These changes acknowledge the role of the mayor as manager of a city with $62.8 million in revenue (according to the 2019 Cleveland Heights Comprehensive Annual Financial Report), and as a leader of 433 employees (according to the same report) accountable for the effectiveness of the city’s programs and services.

Immediately upon election, our new mayor must embark upon the search for an administrator who must be identified, properly interviewed, vetted and hired. Beyond filling that key position, it’s critical that our new mayor bring to city hall a proven track record of leadership, with fluency in the language of business, fund accounting, politics and conciliation.

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Volume 14, Issue 8, Posted 3:01 PM, 07.30.2021

CH Historical Society urges NEORSD to preserve Shaker Lakes

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District’s (NEORSD) preferred plan regarding the Shaker Lakes, costing $28.3 million, removes the historic Shaker dam at Horseshoe Lake, built in 1852, and replaces the entire lake with stream paths and riparian channels. Lower Lake, built in 1837 and more vulnerable to flooding, would then be dredged and its dam rebuilt with wider and higher armoring. If the present dam and wooden walkway at Green Lake is any indication, the marvelous sandstone facing on the present Lower Lake bridge and spillway would most likely be reduced or removed entirely, as we are told the new dam will look significantly different. This plan also seriously limits and alters flourishing wildlife habitats.

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Volume 14, Issue 8, Posted 8:05 AM, 07.27.2021

Seren on his experience and path to mayoral candidacy

When I began serving on Cleveland Heights City Council six years ago, I could not have predicted that I would be running to be the first elected mayor of our city. But I could see as soon as I joined council that we needed a change. Since then, I have worked hard to push my colleagues and the administration to be more proactive, responsive, transparent, and bold. My legislative work has successfully produced policy changes that have made our city stronger. The example I’ve set on council has led to positive changes in how our government works and responds. But there is more work to be done.  

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Volume 14, Issue 8, Posted 9:26 AM, 07.20.2021

Danforth will prioritize Noble neighborhood

On Sept. 14, the residents of Cleveland Heights will go to the polls to vote [in a primary election] for our first mayor. My vote will be for the person who will make the Noble neighborhood and the Noble Road Corridor Planning Project a priority.  
 
As a transplant from Omaha, Neb., I intentionally sought Cleveland Heights as a place to make home because of its heartbeat, eclectic vibe and diversity. In 2002, I chose the Noble neighborhood because of the commitment from city leaders to revitalize the area with its first effort, Greyton Court Townhouses, off of Noble Road between Greyton and Nelaview roads. I purchased a townhome, phase one of what was to be three phases—but two and three never happened. Fast forward to the housing crisis of 2008–09, and Noble neighborhood is one that has yet to recover.

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Volume 14, Issue 8, Posted 8:46 AM, 07.30.2021

Seren stresses 'effective and efficient' leadership

In many ways, Kahlil Seren has the kind of background and career trajectory one might expect for someone running for Cleveland Heights mayor. He has lived most of his life in Cleveland’s eastside suburbs; he studied law and public policy at Cleveland State University’s (CSU) Levin College of Urban Affairs; he has accomplished years of public policy work, first at a progressive-leaning think tank, then for Cuyahoga County Council; he has served on Cleveland Heights City Council for the last six years; and he currently is the city’s vice mayor. A race for mayor seems the logical next step.

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Volume 14, Issue 8, Posted 8:44 AM, 07.30.2021

Seren has essential skills and vision to be mayor

After robust debate and a definitive vote, we, the citizens of Cleveland Heights, have the opportunity to directly elect the chief executive who will guide our city. We are fortunate to have excellent candidates, each of whom brings different strengths to the contest, and we could be well served by any of them.

But, I think we would be best served by Cleveland City Council Vice President Kahlil Seren. Having served on council since 2015, Seren is thoroughly knowledgeable about Cleveland Heights government, policy, initiatives, planning and history, and will be able to govern as mayor from day one.

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Volume 14, Issue 8, Posted 8:43 AM, 07.30.2021

Some thoughts on Nighttown: a love letter

It's not an exaggeration to say that the report of the sale of Nighttown restaurant, in early January, shocked the community. What was already a trying year was underscored by the transition of a legendary and community-defining institution. Most of the community—of musicians and music lovers, diners, artists, students and former students, and residents who grew up matriculating in and through this distinguished institution—is worried.

Many things make Nighttown unique.

While the food was good, it wasn't the focus of the club (though most everyone had their favorite “signature'”dish). What Nighttown featured was atmosphere and ambience, emerging organically through the decades of its existence. Nighttown was the antithesis of the overproduced and overprocessed. It was a club, as in nightclub, as you imagine they were in the 1930s and ‘40s (or at least as they were in movies of the 1930s and ‘40s).

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Volume 14, Issue 7, Posted 3:42 PM, 07.01.2021

A tribute to Ida Bergson

When my 26-year-old daughter progressed from the old Heights JCC preschool program to kindergarten at Canterbury Elementary School, she expected the teacher that she had for two years to follow her to her new school. Luckily for us, Canterbury needed an art teacher and hired Ida Bergson. This is really the middle of the story, so let me back up a few decades. 

My mother and Ida’s mother were friends in elementary school; their relationship would last for over 70 years. My mother’s family moved to Cleveland Heights in time for her to enter high school. Our family moved back to Cleveland Heights when I was born, and it turned out that Ida’s family lived around the corner. So, Ida remembers babysitting me.

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Volume 14, Issue 7, Posted 3:36 PM, 07.01.2021

Danforth on leading CH's transition

Since it became a city in 1921, Cleveland Heights has been run by a city manager. On Jan.1, 2022, a mayor will become the city’s first elected executive. 

This change will be dramatic and difficult. An effective transition will require broad and deep executive leadership skills and experience. With a population of 44,000, a budget of $52.2 million, and more than 400 employees, Cleveland Heights is a sizable municipal operation. 

This is how I will accomplish this monumental transition, if elected mayor:

  • Staff interaction: I will approach staff with full respect for them and the work they do. I will meet with every employee to learn about their expertise and challenges. Those with significant competencies, I will give them room to work; others may need support or resources to maximize their effectiveness. My years in executive search position me well to recruit, vet, and on-board the most talented professionals available. I will search for a city administrator who will work by my side to accomplish the city’s goals.
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Volume 14, Issue 7, Posted 3:26 PM, 07.01.2021

Hart puts forth her vision for CH

When we moved here in 2005, we looked for a walkable, bikeable town, with a diverse population and restaurants, shops, parks, trees, and mass transit. We found all of that in Cleveland Heights.   

We still have all of that, but other forces have hurt our city. The mortgage foreclosure crisis impacted the north end, particularly harshly. Currently, non-local investors snap up properties online and flip or rent them without repair. The unconstitutional funding of schools causes increased taxes, driving some residents out, and creating declining population and higher taxes for those of us who stay. We have a 100-year-old sewer system that the EPA is requiring us to repair.

These are all challenges we face now and challenges that we will face into the future.

But the bones of greatness are still here, and I would build on those bones.

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Volume 14, Issue 7, Posted 3:24 PM, 07.01.2021

Resident asks city to move TOH dog park

The purpose of this message is to address the Top of the Hill (TOH) development project, and its impact on The Buckingham residential building that it surrounds, from both a financial and quality-of-life standpoint. Obviously, we are well beyond the question of the propriety of such a massive project, and it is not my intention to subvert the process or undermine the development.

What I would like to address, however, is the promise, made by the developer in public meetings, that there would be green spaces created that would be a benefit to the public. Instead, what we see being created at the very entrance to The Buckingham is an artificial-turf dog park which, in the view of Buckingham residents, is a slap in the face and a cynical effort to fulfill a promise made to the community. We hardly view this artificial turf installation as a “green space,” and regard it as an affront to the unit owners and, ultimately, as a nuisance. Additionally, it will be locked and gated for use by only TOH residents, not for the public at all, as was promised.

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Volume 14, Issue 7, Posted 3:19 PM, 07.01.2021

CH council candidate Cuda says housing is the key

As a candidate for Cleveland Heights City Council, I hear you loud and clear; you want our government to be more accountable, responsive, collaborative, efficient, transparent, inclusive and environmentally aware. In other words, you are looking for change.

Well, we are electing the first mayor in our 100-year history this year. There are also four council seats up for election (those held by Cobb, Russell, Stein and Ungar). This is arguably the most consequential CH election in decades because there is a new governmental structure and a mandate for change.

That change needs to begin with our housing department.

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Volume 14, Issue 7, Posted 3:17 PM, 07.01.2021

New CH mayor should champion police department

I moved to Cleveland Heights in 1972. Looking back over 49 years, I’ve had the opportunity to reap the benefits of living in an integrated community that celebrates its diversity, and a community that has supported its public schools by (usually) passing levies. (Full disclosure: I worked on three of those levies.) 

Over that half century, I watched East Cleveland become a “minority-majority” city overnight, due to blockbusting—and I saw how the Heights Community Congress stopped real estate agents from doing the same thing here. I also saw our police department evolve from being an “occupying army,” with little civilian oversight, to a department run in a more progressive manner.

Certainly, there are still flaws and challenges. As a Black male, I’m well-aware of the fact that there are unwritten regulations governing DWB, and, like so many other families of all colors, I’ve had family members who’ve met police officers under circumstances that were warranted and unwarranted.

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Volume 14, Issue 7, Posted 3:15 PM, 07.01.2021

Why I support Danforth for mayor

I support the candidacy of Barbara Danforth because she will make an excellent mayor of Cleveland Heights.

Competent city managers kept Cleveland Heights financially solvent, physically intact, and well protected by safety forces. Hopefully, mayors will do the same. But the first mayor chosen under a new system will have neither experience nor history as a guide. Our city will require especially talented leadership during the initial transition period. Danforth is the candidate most likely to provide such leadership.

Danforth has experience managing large organizations. She has hired and supervised talented employees to operate them. The most important job of the new mayor will be to find a city administrator and other staff who can manage ably important day-to-day city operations. Danforth has credentials that prove her ready for this job.

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Volume 14, Issue 7, Posted 3:14 PM, 07.01.2021

CH resident Dronet is 2022 candidate for District 9 seat

My name is Danielle Dronet. I live and work in Cleveland Heights. I’m running in the 2022 election for the District 9 seat in the Ohio House of Representatives, and I’d like your help as I campaign and develop my plan of action. 

For nearly a decade my professional life has been dedicated to serving District 9. In that time, I’ve become fluent in the language of our district: the optimism and growth potential witnessed here, the commonalities and civic pride of our citizenry, and the needs of our communities. My contributions to our district include:

  • Operating a mental-health practice on the East Side for patients suffering from trauma;
  • Advocating for economic education, blockchain-based transparency initiatives, improved delivery of social services, and community enrichment and outreach projects;
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Volume 14, Issue 7, Posted 12:12 PM, 06.21.2021

Testing and a missed opportunity

What a year this has been for educators. Teachers moved from virtual instruction to hybrid to in-person teaching. Educators were asked to adapt at a moment's notice. Some of our students lost their original teachers and had to build relationships with new ones. After all the chaos, the last thing any educator wanted to hear was that the Ohio state tests were required as usual. 

Ohio state testing was not optional for our district. Parents could opt out for their children, but schools were still required to administer these tests. This seems especially misguided considering that some students lost access to their regular learning opportunities due to circumstances beyond their control. Why these tests were deemed necessary remains a mystery, but we do know that the scores will be used to judge and rank our schools and our teachers. 

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Volume 14, Issue 6, Posted 11:24 AM, 06.15.2021

Severance should be candidates' top priority

Severance Town Center is a shell of its former self. Its troubles are obvious to anyone who visits the property and sees the vacant storefronts, the closed Regal Cinema and I-Hop, the massive empty building that once housed a Walmart, and expanses of asphalt that were once filled with the cars of shoppers.

The question now facing Cleveland Heights is this: How can Severance Town Center be redeveloped so that it again becomes a productive asset for Cleveland Heights—providing needed services and generating tax dollars to help relieve the tax burden on residents?

As Cleveland Heights prepares to elect its first mayor, it is my hope that its citizens will demand that all candidates for mayor, and for city council, address this issue.

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Volume 14, Issue 6, Posted 10:37 AM, 05.27.2021

It's time for fair school funding

The following is a shortened version of the testimony I gave to the Ohio State Senate’s K–12 Education Committee on May 5, in support of HB-1:

Like you, I think my community is pretty amazing. We in the Heights pride ourselves on our racial, economic and religious diversity. We believe that diversity is our strength. Yet, when you [talk to] someone who has looked for a home here, the most common [comment] is, “I love Cleveland Heights and University Heights, but the taxes are so high.” Residents agree, and some may think it is because their tax dollars aren’t used well. 

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Volume 14, Issue 6, Posted 12:03 PM, 05.27.2021

The nobility of Noble Neighbors

I love the gardeners market sponsored by Noble Neighbors at the Roanoke park. I have found new homes there for my crowded native perennials.

The park that finally occupies that space, after years of begging the city to allow citizens to create it, is wonderful and charming, all initiated by the early work of Noble Neighbors’ Beautification Committee.

Noble Neighbors’ May event is also tremendous, but I do wonder who actually plans it, since members never discuss [the plans].

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Volume 14, Issue 6, Posted 11:49 AM, 05.27.2021

Requiem for city council and a form of government

Cleveland Heights City Council has ceased to function in a productive manner. Come Jan. 1, 2022, its duties will be drastically minimized by the change to a mayor-council form of government.

"City council" is both the rules under which it operates, and the people whose duty it is to carry out those rules. It's hard to define the exact date, but some of the people on the current council stopped carrying out the rules in good faith at least six years ago.

The hypocrisy and mendacity of these council members, including Ungar, Dunbar and Stein, is undeniable.

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Volume 14, Issue 6, Posted 10:18 AM, 05.27.2021

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.

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Volume 14, Issue 6, Posted 10:32 AM, 05.27.2021

Former Cleveland mayor endorses Danforth

As a former Ohio state representative (1985–1997) and Cuyahoga County commissioner (1997–2001) I worked with a lot of mayors. Serving as mayor of Cleveland (2001–2005) was the highest honor and hardest and most important work of my life. Soon, Cleveland Heights will directly elect a mayor for the first time in almost 100 years. I appreciate from my own experience how difficult this job will be.

There’s no ducking responsibility when you’re the mayor. Cleveland Heights has an almost $45-million budget and nearly 400 employees. The new mayor must inspire the existing workforce to serve with excellence, and bring in talented leadership to manage the city.

The buck always stops with the mayor.

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Volume 14, Issue 6, Posted 10:29 AM, 05.27.2021

What leadership means to me

A mayoral campaign is all about leadership, this time within the context of the Cleveland Heights community. Effective city leadership involves a three-legged stool, and our city’s first elected mayor needs to have strengths in three areas—civic engagement, experience in city government, and executive finance and managerial skills. 

Civic engagement: My years of involvement with Greater Cleveland Congregations Cleveland Heights Housing Committee includes direct engagement with the neighborhoods most affected by the housing crisis, and advocacy for housing equity and reform. A longtime supporter of Heights Friends of Immigrants, I have sponsored a Haitian immigrant who is now a working, productive member of our community. Serving as a board member and treasurer for the past three years, I have been a member of Cleveland Heights Democrats since 2005.

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Volume 14, Issue 6, Posted 10:15 AM, 05.27.2021

Residents ask candidates to embrace environmental policy platform

We are Cleveland Heights and University Heights residents with a vision for a healthy environment within our own political boundaries and beyond. We are requesting that mayoral, council, and school board candidates incorporate environmental policies in their platforms.

We are looking for elected leaders who are knowledgeable about, embrace, and apply an environmental overlay to all policy proposals and actions. Each decision affecting the people and lands of our cities should have a documented and transparent review of how this overlay is applied. The overlay should include the impact on natural resources, environmental equity, and climate change.

Our cities are an integral component of Greater Cleveland’s ecosystem.

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Volume 14, Issue 5, Posted 10:42 AM, 04.30.2021

In-person learning is back

The CH-UH school district is officially back to in-person teaching. It’s been a long time coming. 

Staying remote for as long as we did was the safest choice for our staff, students, and families. The decisions the district made became more controversial as the year progressed, but it made no sense to return in-person when COVID numbers were on the rise and a vaccine was months away.   

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Volume 14, Issue 5, Posted 10:48 AM, 04.30.2021

P.E.A.C.E. Park is ideal location for dog park

[There is] a landslide of support to have a dog park in Cleveland Heights.

I have been in contact with the director of Heights Libraries, which oversees Coventry P.E.A.C.E. Park. I have laid out to her reasons why Coventry P.E.A.C.E. Park is where I believe the dog park should be, but she has turned me down flatly, saying that this area is used for picnics, sledding, and other activities.

I would like to tell you why I think she has made a mistake, and why I have not given up and am appealing to Cleveland Heights residents and the powers-that-be to support a dog park at Coventry P.E.A.C.E. Park.

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Volume 14, Issue 5, Posted 10:46 AM, 04.30.2021

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.

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Volume 14, Issue 5, Posted 10:33 AM, 04.30.2021

Housing inspection and code enforcement are critical

The 2020 survey of Cleveland Heights residents found that, of all the services provided by City Hall, respondents were least satisfied with "enforcement of city codes and ordinances." (Safety services topped the ranking.) I wasn't surveyed, but I agree. Many, many properties do not look good. That's the number one issue for candidates.

It seems that past officials, over decades, never really appreciated just how critical inspection and enforcement are once structures lose their newness. Cleveland Heights is the third-oldest suburb in the county (behind East Cleveland and Lakewood). Half of our homes are 100 years old. Because officials failed to address adequately what was becoming old housing, shoddiness became an acceptable standard.

The worse the condition of housing, the more negatives occur.

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Volume 14, Issue 5, Posted 10:36 AM, 04.30.2021

Merchants support mixed-use development at Cedar-Lee-Meadowbrook

The below-signed merchants in the Cedar Lee Business District strongly support a mixed-use development at the Cedar-Lee-Meadowbrook (CLM) site (the vacant land on the east side of Lee Road at Meadowbrook Boulevard, and on the municipal parking lot between Tullamore and Cedar roads). As Cleveland Heights City Council reviews and evaluates two proposals for CLM development, we strongly support the selection of a developer who can minimize the impact of construction disruption on our businesses by shortening and maximizing the construction period with a single phase of development for the entire project. We are excited about the catalytic possibilities of the CLM project, just as the Top of the Hill project is bringing to Cedar Fairmount.

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Volume 14, Issue 5, Posted 6:59 AM, 04.27.2021