Julian Rogers' County Council Observer Interview
Julian Rogers, 36, Democrat. 3920 Orchard Road, Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44121. Job: Executive Director, Education Voters of Ohio
1) Describe the duties of the members of the County Council.
The County Council serves as the legislative arm of county government. The new charter outlines twelve specific duties of the County Council, but the primary role of the Council is to provide oversight over the overall operation of county government and to serve as a balance to the powers of the county executive. Additionally, as this will be the first Council under the new charter, new Council will have to play an instrumental role in transitioning to a new government structure. New departments will be created and some departments will be combined. It will be critical that the new Council have a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of these departments so that the new government can operate efficiently and with no disruption in services to Cuyahoga County residents.
2) Why do you want to serve on the County Council?
With the right leadership and a focused vision, I believe that Cuyahoga County can be an example of how regions along the Great Lakes can reinvent themselves to be striving communities where families want to live and businesses wish to locate. My life, both professionally and privately has been devoted to making a difference in the lives of people in our community. I would like to continue that commitment to service as a member of the County Council.
I would like to help create a county government that is run efficiently, provides the highest quality of services and operates in a manner that is open to the public, fair and corruption-free. This will require an unwavering commitment to the highest ethical standards among all members of the Council, the County Executive and all employees of county government. The members of the new County Council need to be willing to work extremely hard to make sure we get this right the first time. The voters are expecting change and a better government and I am dedicated to meeting their expectations.
Finally, it is time for the next generation of leaders to take positions in government in order to bring new ideas and energy that Cuyahoga County so desperately needs.
3) What qualifications do you bring that make you the most qualified?
I have been a resident of District 10 for over 36 years and I understand the complex issues facing this community. I have served in high-level positions with large organizations, so I have a clear understanding of what it takes to problem solve, build consensus and provide oversight within a large institution such as the county government.
I served on the executive management team for seven years at the state’s largest school district. While working at the Cleveland School District, I helped manage 77,000 students, 14,000 employees, 124 facilities, 600 school buses and a budget of nearly $1 billion. Through my time with the District, I gained understanding of the type of leadership and organizational structures that are needed to be in place for a large organization to run smoothly.
Additionally, for the past four years, I have served on the Board of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA). In this capacity, I establish the policies and procedures of the organization, oversee and approve the budget, and evaluate the management of the state’s largest public transit system. During my tenure on the Board, RTA completed the Euclid Corridor project and was recognized as the best public transit system in the country by the America Public Transit Association.
The County Council will be responsible for building a new form of government and my experience as Executive Director of Education Voters of Ohio (a state-wide public education advocacy organization) proves my capability in successfully creating new organizations. This year, Education Voters was presented with the Friend of Education Award by the Ohio Federation of Teachers for its excellent work on behalf of Ohio’s 1.2 million public school children.
4) What will you do in your first weeks?
In the first weeks following the election, it will be important for members of the new Council and the County Executive to establish a strong working relationship, conduct a financial and performance audit of each County department and approve the leadership appointments referred by the County Executive. In addition, the Council must enact and adhere to a strong ethics policy that will apply to all county employee and elected officials.
5) How will we know you are doing a good job?
The first indication will be a higher level of trust in county government among Cuyahoga County residents. We will see greater savings of taxpayer money while keeping services unchanged or increased as a result of a government operating more efficiently. More people will have a better understanding of the role and functions of county government and will know how to access the services it provides.