Alan Rapoport's County Council Observer Interview

Alan Rapoport, 61, Democrat. Cleveland Heights, Attorney in Private Practice

1. Describe for us the duties of a member of the County Council.

County Council will be a legislature. It will pass ordinances and resolutions. It will set policies and appropriate money. It will adopt budgets. It will confirm important appointments of the County Executive. Members will participate fully in all these activities, possibly through a committee system. Most importantly, Council can elect to have oversight responsibilities. The Charter creates a “right of inquiry.”  This allows members to bypass the County Executive and get information directly from County employees.  In the end, the most important duty of the County Council may be to act as a check and a balance. It will only fulfill that duty meaningfully if members cooperate with each other and with the County Executive.

2. Why do you want to serve on the County Council?

We are about to experience the greatest change in a form of local government in our lifetime. I ask for an opportunity to participate in this change so I can help invent a delivery system for vital services that affect the health and welfare of our community. I ask this because I believe I can make a positive difference, as I always have in the past. I also believe that if I help make Cuyahoga County a better place for everyone, it will be better place for me, too.

3. What qualifications do you bring that make you the most qualified?

I have government, legal and political experience. I served three terms as Mayor of Cleveland Heights. I have spent 35 years representing people of all kinds as their trusted legal adviser. I have spent 40 years creating and maintaining political contacts and relationships and learning political skills that will be very useful to a member of a brand new County Council. Each candidate in this race has skills, but I am the only one with this kind of extensive background in all three categories.

4. What will you do in your first weeks? Please describe in detail, to give our readers an idea of what this position will actually be like.

There will be two vital tasks in the first weeks. First, members of the new Council will need to form relationships and develop a team mentality. I plan to have networking meetings with other members to get to know them better and to discuss our common objectives. Second, members will need to review volumes of recommendations from County transition committees. They must start fast to plan change so that a new County government can conduct business from the beginning without interruption. This means review of the budget, work with the new County Executive to ratify his or her personnel appointments, and adoption of rules and procedures for the new government.

5. How, specifically, will we know that you are doing a good job?

I am result-oriented. As I have always done in the past, I will stand up publically for government that is attentive to social needs, economical in how it uses public money, honest and transparent in its actions, and effective in addressing the problems of those I represent. You will see what I do and not just hear what I say I will do. That is how you will be able to evaluate my performance.

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Volume 3, Issue 10, Posted 9:22 AM, 09.04.2010