Cleveland Heights City Council Candidate Tony Cuda
Education: Cleveland Heights High School; CSU, B.A., Political Science; John Carroll, Master’s in Education
Current Occupation: Retired Government Teacher
Qualifications: Campaign Manager, Citizens for an Elected Mayor. Attended most City Council meetings the past four years. Member of the Citizen Transition Committee that made recommendations to CH City Council. Community Organizer, Heights Community Congress. Former Member, Cleveland School Board. Landlord/Tenant counselor, Cleveland Tenants Organization.
Do you think our business districts are healthy and successful? If not, what would you do to change that? Please discuss specific districts, such as Noble and Severance.
All of our business districts suffered during Covid. Even with federal help, some businesses didn’t make it. Cedar/Fairmount is doing well. Lee Road has some vacancies. Coventry has too many vacancies. Taylor and Noble have been struggling for years. Here are a few ideas: 1. Use part of the $38.8 million in ARPA funds to assist struggling businesses. 2. Use federal assistance to attract minority-owned businesses to Cleveland Heights. 3. Enforce our housing codes, especially on investor-owned properties. Safe, well-maintained neighborhoods will attract economic development. 4. Severance must be developed. Issuing the right RFP along with holding the current owner to our building code standards would be a step in the right direction.
What role should environmental considerations play in the city’s policies and actions?
Every development project should be reviewed by our knowledgeable citizens and a qualified sustainability official in our government. I am pleased that our city agreed to do an environmental study on Shaker Lakes to insure we are making the best decision possible on the dam and Horseshoe Lake. Another good example of how a qualified sustainability official could have made a difference is when our city ordered new police cars a couple of months ago. Because there was no review, we did not look at electric or hybrid vehicles as a possibility. These are the kinds of things we can and should do to protect our precious environment and take the lead on becoming a more sustainable city.
How, and in what time frame, should a vacancy on city council be filled?
Council should have a 45 day time limit to fill a vacancy. If the council fails to fill the vacancy in 45 days, the council president should fill it within 10 days. Regardless of how the vacancy is filled, the appointee should be on the next general election ballot. My reasoning: Forty-Five (45) days is needed to collect applications, review those applications and the video responses, narrow the field, interview the finalists and deliberate and make a choice. Sometimes there have been in excess of 40 candidates for an open seat. This process should be done with all deliberate speed, but not hastily. Giving the contingency to the mayor could throw off the checks and balances that are so vital to the 3 branches of government.
What opportunities, if any, do you see for regional collaboration between Cleveland Heights and other local governments to provide services or facilities?
Regionalism makes absolute sense for some services and shared natural resources. A good example is the collaboration going on right now regarding Shaker Lakes. Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights must decide together on whether or not to follow the NEORSD recommendation of removing the dam and replacing Horseshoe Lake with streams. I support the Cleveland Heights initiative to get a second opinion on the NEORSD recommendation before making a decision. Another example would be sharing an animal control department with our contiguous neighbors. Cleveland Heights used to have an animal control department years ago. We don’t now. Perhaps sharing the cost with our neighbors would make it affordable. We certainly share plenty of wildlife.
What are your thoughts about the responsiveness of the city’s elected officials and staff to citizens' concerns?
I know there are a lot of complaints about responsiveness because I hear about them with some regularity. There is no doubt the new mayor will have to develop a customer service mentality at City Hall. “We’ll get back to you within 14 days” is unacceptable. City Council should be prepared to support a plan that makes sense, and fund it. City Council meetings, emails and phone calls from constituents, and legislation are all opportunities to show the people who elected us that we are not only listening, but we are getting things done. When I led the campaign to change our charter to an elected mayor form of government, I was responding to the residents of this community. I plan to continue being responsive as a member of city council.