John Crist's County Council Observer Interview
John Crist, 28, Democrat. Cleveland Heights, graduated from CWRU Law School in May (I can't call myself an attorney until I pass the bar-- we will get results back in November).
1. Describe for us the duties of a member of the County Council.
The County Councilmembers have three primary duties. First, to represent their district. That means understanding their district's unique needs and responding appropriately.
Second, to develop, along with the rest of the candidates and the executive, a plan to move the county forward, bring jobs, create accountability and make Northeast Ohio great. We need big goals. We should expect Northeast Ohio to be the best area in the country.
Third, and very importantly, to restore trust and accountability creating an openness that the County has lacked in recent years. That means no backroom deals. No secret hiring. And always public meetings.
2. Why do you want to serve on the County Council?
Many of the candidates here were "recruited" by powerful friends that want to retain power. Other candidates have run for different offices before and wanted to be politically involved. I'm running because I'm passionate about our county and believe that this area can be great again with the right candidates.
We must encourage smart growth that takes advantages of our advantages. We have the fourth largest body of water in the United States. We have world-class healthcare facilities and universities. What we do with these advantages could define our economy for years to come.
In short, I want to serve because I believe the job is important and should be performed by people who are passionate, smart enough and hopeful enough to truly help.
3. What qualifications do you bring that make you the most qualified?
I have two graduate degrees (J.D. and M.B.A.) from Case Western Reserve University and have years of experience working with nonprofit groups. My biggest qualification, though, is that I am extremely passionate about changing Northeast Ohio and sincerely want to help. As a result, I haven't taken any money from special interest groups, and have spent most of my campaign directly contacting and engaging the community.
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.
The first thing is to develop a master plan with the executive and the other councilmembers to ensure that Health and Human Services are not disrupted. The County's budget is $1.4 billion and we need to ensure that the many programs supported by the County will continue uninterrupted.
5. How, specifically, will we know that you are doing a good job?
This is a great question! You will know that I'm doing a good job if 1) You have the ability to discuss with me your unique concerns regarding county issues; 2) You see the county begin to develop a lakefront development plan (which is one issue I am particularly passionate about); and 3) You see the County programs begin to respond to strong, new leadership by doing more work with less money (working efficiently); creating a master economic development plan and supporting health and human services (working smarter).
I am very passionate, for example, about improving the way the county handles its child services. It's not a question of money; it's a question of leadership. I would work to take a leadership role in improving how our child services are structured and operated.