Cleveland Heights needs leadership

I recently visited Lakewood for a great meal and stroll along the lake. What struck me were the notable differences between our cities. While Lakewood certainly has challenges to work through, what I didn’t see was a vast wasted property like Severance, nor did I see crumbling infrastructure in its parks.

Unlike Cain Park’s dilapidated gutters, broken retainer walls, frightening bathrooms, and accumulated trash, Lakewood's parks looked great.

I also didn’t see empty storefronts in its key business districts, compared with Coventry’s 19 vacancies.

Like Cleveland Heights, Lakewood has a long history of claiming to be a progressive city, but it appears that we embrace the symbols of being one while ignoring the substance. A progressive community would focus on the things that matter—a thriving small-business environment, beautiful parks, and actionable plans for its biggest challenges.

Why Cleveland Heights doesn't look like Lakewood boils down to our city hall. It’s failing. Current council leadership is incapable.

Council failed to appoint its own replacement for Josie Moore, has repeatedly failed to exercise its charter mandate to get information from the administration, has failed to produce any meaningful legislation itself, and failed to establish council rules or priorities after three taxpayer-supported retreats.

That leadership has the full backing of our mayor—someone who probably wants council to remain inept so that he can impose his own agenda on us.  He has a growing reputation for lack of responsiveness and a keen ability to cover that up by leveraging gimmicks to get CNN interviews.

I have lived here most of my life and want nothing more than a city I can be proud of, but the combination of the current mayor and his enablers serving as council president and vice president don’t know how to get it done. 

We have an election this fall for council seats. I strongly recommend we avoid voting for those who have the mayor’s support. We need an independent, wisely led city council—one that can work with the mayor while holding the administration accountable and passing strong legislation that improves our housing stock, revitalizes our business districts, tackles Severance by partnering with the Severance Action Group, maintains our parks, and, ultimately, grows the population and vitality of this city. 

So, re-elect Gail Larson and look seriously at Jim Petras and any other candidate free from the mayor’s direct influence.

Robert Koonce

Robert Koonce was born and raised in Cleveland Heights and has lived most of his adult life here, raising four children along with his wife, Divina.

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Volume 16, Issue 8, Posted 1:40 PM, 07.31.2023