Sharon Cole's County Council Observer interview

Sharon Cole, 41, Democrat. 1949 Green Rd., #607 (Ward 10) Cleveland, OH 44110. Employment: On leave from job of Executive Assistant to Cleveland City Councilman Eugene Miller

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

Legislator and Advocate. This person will have the legislative duties of the new County Government including introducing and voting on legislation, confirming candidates nominated by the County Executive, and approving County contracts. In addition, this person will be an advocate for the people of their district and the county as a whole. That means making sure the legislation introduced is effective, the approved candidates for leadership positions are qualified, and that the voice of the people is heard when it comes to decision-making in the new government structure.

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

Because I want to give back to a community that has given me so much. This new government should be one of new ideas and a new direction for the County. However, the person elected to this position should also have government experience and a history of building partnerships to get things done. I would like to be a part of the creation of this new County government.

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

I have worked on the ground in the legislative offices of Congresswomen Stephanie Tubbs Jones and Marcia L. Fudge at the federal level, State Representative Eugene R. Miller at the State Level, and Councilman Eugene R. Miller at the municipal level. I understand the appropriations process and the state operating and capital budgets, and know that even in tough economic times these dollars can be leveraged to improve the lives of the residents of Cuyahoga County.

Many of the residents in the core cities are Seniors, and my membership on the Ward 10 Department of Aging Advisory Council and taking care of my 93 year old grandmother has given me insight into caring for those in need. In addition, as Business Liaison in the Congressional Office I worked with Businesses, Chambers of Commerce and Economic Development Directors on ways to strengthen their bottom line to create jobs. Finally, I am also a Board member of the WECO Fund, Inc. an organization charged with increasing Financial Literacy among low-income people, a critical skill needed to navigate through today's challenging economy.

It is important that the person in this position understand the bureaucracy of government, but also have the problem solving and people skills needed to get things done. I believe that my education and experiences have prepared me to be successful in this position, and effectively serve the residents of Cuyahoga County.

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.

First, I would begin relationship building. This would include meetings with other members of County Council, the County Executive, and key leaders in County Government. One critical topic of discussion:  plugging the hole in next year's budget. These meetings would be followed by conversations with leaders in the business, government, and non-profit communities to better gauge the challenges they face as they work to move the County in a positive direction. 

Next, I would set up a series of meetings in the District 10 community to understand what is happening "on the ground" in the neighborhoods. This would allow residents to have a strong voice in the creation of their new government at the beginning and the ability to ask questions about what to expect. 

I would push for quick adoption of an Ethics Code so that County residents have a policy they can use to hold their officials accountable. Finally, I would push for the swift creation of an Economic Development Commission so they can begin the task of creating a strong 5-year economic plan to support local businesses and create jobs.

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

1) Effective legislation is introduced and passed at the County level.
2) Cuyahoga County continues to balance the budget as mandated by state law in a way that allows it to balance taking care of the people of Cuyahoga County with supporting economic growth.
3) The people of Cuyahoga County say so through community satisfaction surveys and feedback at community meetings.

Sharon Cole

Candidate for Cuyahoga County Council, District 10

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Volume 3, Issue 10, Posted 8:49 AM, 09.04.2010