Cleveland Heights Age: 72
Campaign address: 2501 Bolton Road
Campaign phone: (216) 233-4369
Education: Eastern Michigan University, BS; University of Pittsburgh School of Law, JD
Current occupation: Executive Coach
Qualifications: A deep love of Cleveland Heights and all that makes it unique and the desire to bring my education, skills and experience to facilitate improvements and growth in the City. Thirty years of executive leadership experience serving in private, public and non-profit sectors in city, county and state governments, including the practice of law, CEO of the YWCA of Cleveland, and CEO of largest charter school in Ohio serving children with learning disabilities with 24 schools, 1,000 staff, budget of $62 million. I developed and led a team, in collaboration with the Board of Directors, that implemented a total structural and cultural transition of the YWCA and built an organizational foundation that has enabled the YWCA to grow and thrive for over a decade. Twenty-two-year resident of Cleveland Heights.
Volunteer activities: Forest Hill Home Owner Association, Board of Trustees; Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services; Member and former Board member of City Club of Cleveland and In Counsel With Women.
What do you consider to be an effective working relationship between the elected mayor and members of City Council?
The Mayor and City Council are equal branches of the government and must work collaboratively to implement the City’s goals and objectives. As Mayor, I will understand the priorities of each Council member and engage the City staff to help facilitate their agendas. The Mayor and the Council will need to bring our diverse perspectives together, listen carefully, respectfully, identify common ground, resolve conflicting positions and make decisions that are in the best interests of Cleveland Heights residents. It will be the responsibility of the Mayor to determine from the City staff issues, initiatives and projects that require legislative consideration, provide Council members with relevant data and information, and facilitate the preparation of the legislation. The Mayor is charged with the implementation of legislative mandates and completing projects on time and on budget.
What opportunities do you see for regional collaboration between Cleveland Heights and other local governments to provide services or facilities?
There are many opportunities for collaboration among other local governments, some of which are already in existence. Cleveland Heights is a member of the Northeast Ohio First Suburbs Consortium, which is a government-led advocacy organization working to revitalize mature communities. As issues facing mature cities become more complex and challenging, there are greater needs and opportunities to collaborate, and to initiate and support policies and practices that facilitate the redevelopment of these cities. Cleveland Heights can draw upon the experience and best practices utilized in other similar cities. A broad and deep connection to our central city, Cleveland, and Cuyahoga County is important to identify trends, advances, opportunities and resources that may be available to Cleveland Heights. Additionally, collaboration with non-governmental units, such as University Circle, Inc., is important when considering residential, retail, and commercial development.
What, if any, specific actions would you recommend the city take to reverse the decline of its aging housing?
(1) I recommend a careful review and analysis of the City’s Housing Department with a particular focus on whether the existing contract for housing inspections is meeting the needs of the city. There must be a fair, consistent, and timely inspection process with penalties that are enforced for failure to correct violations. (2) Review the Housing Department budget to ensure that it demonstrates the importance of our housing stock and provides adequate resources for inspections and any legal services needed to enforce the City’s codes, including those relating to rental and vacant properties. (3) I would facilitate communication, at every relevant opportunity, about programs that are available to residents to maintain their homes. There are loan programs, such as the Housing Enhancement Loan Program (HELP), and services available at the Housing Preservation Office and the Home Repair and Resource Center that can assist those in greatest need to maintain their homes.
What is your vision for the redevelopment of Severance Center, and what city actions would be necessary to facilitate that vision?
For Severance, I envision a town center of the future. It could build on the expansion of MetroHealth’s new hospital and include a campus of other health and education related enterprises. It could draw upon the facility needs of the medical advancements in artificial intelligence, research and development, and clean manufacturing of medical devices. It could fully repurpose the former Regal Theater into an arts, culture and entertainment center. It could include a mixture of residential models including small, energy efficient homes and those with first floor master suites. It must include lots of green space for walking, biking and relaxing. This vision should be driven by a view for bringing in growth industries. I will engage our residents to update their ideas, as well as developers, commercial real estate brokers, financial institutions, Future Heights and the City Planning and Development staff. Finally, tough negotiations with the current owner will be necessary.
What role should environmental considerations play in the city’s policies and actions?
Supporting our environment and reducing our carbon footprint seems like an overwhelming challenge and yet we know that urgent action is needed. As Mayor, one of the first things I will do is create an Environmental Task Force. Members will have expertise in clean water, renewable energy, solar energy, recycling, climate change, our tree canopy and green spaces. They will educate the City staff and residents about simple, cost effective, environmentally-friendly strategies to implement. They will recommend specific policies and actions that can be adopted for immediate and long-term reduction of our carbon footprint. Most importantly, members of the Task Force will be at the decision-making table for residential, commercial and other relevant projects to provide advice and recommendations. An example of a possible idea is the construction of an all-electric home with energy supplied by roof-top solar panels. Environmentally-friendly strategies must be a priority for the City.
All candidate information has been submitted by the candidates themselves.
League of Women Voters
The 2021 Voters Guide to Cleveland Heights Mayoral Candidates is published as a public service by the League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland, FutureHeights and the Heights Observer. The League of Women Voters is a non-partisan organization whose mission is to encourage the informed participation by citizens in government. FutureHeights is a nonprofit community development organization and publisher of the Observer. Primary Election Day is Sept. 14, 2021. Polls are open 6:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.