Elected-mayor petition drive exceeds goal
Citizens for an Elected Mayor (CEM) delivered to the city 3,962 signatures on petitions to put a charter amendment on the Nov. 6 ballot that, if approved, would create the office of a full-time elected mayor in Cleveland Heights for the first time since the city was chartered in 1921.
Susanna Niermann O'Neil, city council acting clerk and assistant city manager, accepted the petitions on June 17 from members of CEM. The grassroots local ballot issue committee had planned to collect at least 3,200 signatures to help ensure it reached the 2,200 valid signatures needed.
“This fast and impressive show of support assures us that citizens eagerly want to be able to elect their own mayor,” said Tony Cuda, CEM campaign manager. “We look forward to the issue being placed on the ballot and working with volunteers to ensure it passes.”
More than 50 volunteers collected the signatures in just over three weeks at community events, public areas, and businesses such as Zagara’s Marketplace.
Under state law, the clerk will forward the petitions to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections to verify signatures. The board will confirm the number of registered voters who signed. If there are enough valid signatures and the petition is otherwise valid, city council will approve an ordinance authorizing the board to place the amendment on the November ballot. The issue needs a majority of affirmative votes to pass.
The charter amendment would:
- Create the position of a full-time mayor directly elected by voters as chief executive officer of the city. The mayor would serve for four years and, like council members, be subject to recall provisions.
- Create the position of a full-time qualified city administrator to provide professional management. The city administrator would be appointed by the mayor, subject to confirmation by a majority of council.
- Enable council to approve the mayor’s appointment of the directors of law, finance and planning.
- Permit the mayor to disapprove council ordinances, with council able to override the mayor by a vote of at least five members.
The amendment and other information can be viewed at www.citizensforanelectedmayor.com.
Michael Bennett, a 29-year resident of Cleveland Heights, is secretary of Citizens for an Elected Mayor.