How a CH council appointment became an election

Mary Dunbar resigned from Cleveland Heights City Council on Aug. 16, effective immediately.

That was about 78 days before the upcoming general election on Nov. 2, where a mayor and four council members will be elected.

The very next day, the city issued a press release announcing that applications were being accepted to be considered for appointment to the remaining two years (plus a little more) of the term.

I saw that press release on Facebook, and decided to read the city's charter to see if that was correct. I've read that paragraph previously, so already had my doubts.

As you know by now, since you've already read the title of this article, the press release was wrong. Since the resignation was more than 60 days before the election—as set out in "III-4 Vacancy", the only relevant portion of the city’s charter—an election was required.

I notified Kahlil Seren immediately—including the unambiguous charter language—and left a similar comment on that Facebook posting. The press release and application were withdrawn from the city’s website immediately.

Thereafter followed a week of damage control by the city, described as legal research and communications with the Board of Elections (BOE). Then, yet another special city council meeting was called for Aug. 25, at which the council voted 6-0 to pass emergency legislation instructing the BOE to add the race for the Unexpired Term Ending 12/31/23 to the Nov. 2 ballot. Before adjourning the meeting, Council President Stein thanked me for my e-mail to council.

I'll let the city try to explain how a city manager, six city council members, a clerk of council, a law director, and an entire legal department got it wrong. Whatever the explanation—which has not been offered—there's no excuse for depriving We The People of a vote that belongs to us. Our vote. Perhaps our most sacred civil right. And they were going to toss it away. Just like that.

I'm on the ballot for that council seat. People have asked me why I think I'm qualified for the job. Well, if my 10 years or so of watchdogging the city council and school board somehow aren't enough, being personally responsible for putting an election on the ballot ain't nothing to sneeze at. I don't guess any of the other candidates have that on their résumé. Neither do most—or any—of the current council members.

I hope you'll vote for me for that council seat.

Garry Kanter

Garry Kanter resides in Cleveland Heights. He is a candidate for CH City Council, for the unexpired term ending Dec. 31, 2023.

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 10:13 AM, 09.16.2021