Former Cleveland mayor endorses Danforth
As a former Ohio state representative (1985–1997) and Cuyahoga County commissioner (1997–2001) I worked with a lot of mayors. Serving as mayor of Cleveland (2001–2005) was the highest honor and hardest and most important work of my life. Soon, Cleveland Heights will directly elect a mayor for the first time in almost 100 years. I appreciate from my own experience how difficult this job will be.
There’s no ducking responsibility when you’re the mayor. Cleveland Heights has an almost $45-million budget and nearly 400 employees. The new mayor must inspire the existing workforce to serve with excellence, and bring in talented leadership to manage the city.
The buck always stops with the mayor. If garbage pickup is late, or streets aren’t plowed on time, people expect a mayor to fix things. If commercial districts start looking shabby, if the house on the corner is overgrown with weeds, if the water and sewer lines break, if the Plain Dealer calls and the television camera truck is in the city hall parking lot, the mayor gets the call.
Cleveland Heights is a wonderful place dedicated to creating an intentionally diverse community. I still have family and friends in the Heights, so I’m not a disinterested observer. But Cleveland Heights is not without problems and challenges—aging housing stock, commercial districts in need of improvement, racial tension, to name a few. Basic city services, such as police, fire, and ambulance, must be maintained at a high level. Can a directly elected mayor solve all problems? Of course not. But the right mayor certainly can move the city toward solutions.
As I told Barbara Danforth’s supporters, it’s important for the mayor to have the mix of experience that Barbara has, to guide the city through this transformational time. Barbara worked in city government as Cleveland’s chief prosecutor. She worked in county government as the chief legal counsel for the Department of Children and Family Services. She handled personnel, payroll, and complex financial challenges with her turnaround of the YWCA [of Greater Cleveland], and she served in the corporate sector, searching and vetting executive talent to fit large organizations. Finding talent is a critical skill for an effective mayor.
Cleveland Heights voters now have the opportunity to hire the right talent to lead the city, Barbara Danforth. Cleveland Heights deserves no less than the best to serve as the first mayor under the new system.
Jane Campbell, former mayor of Cleveland, is president and CEO of the United States Capitol Historical Society in Washington, D.C. She also serves on the steering committee for the Women Mayors’ Network, an international, nonpartisan peer network to support women who are running governments at the urban level and who are #LeadingDifferently. She is a friend of Barbara Danforth.