Weak council leadership gives mayor too much power

In 2019, I, along with nine other Cleveland Heights residents, formed Citizens for an Elected Mayor (CEM). I was tired of stagnant leadership, and I often referenced Cleveland Heights as a tale of two cities: the vibrant, growing, and developed south side, and the red-lined, ignored, and voiceless north side.

I have no regret that [the elected mayor ballot issue] passed. I truly believed that we would finally have co-equal branches of government that would serve our city better than the city manager form of government.

Our council members are failing to get work done. Their disjointed efforts are often left at a standstill or stalemate of sorts, preventing priorities from getting completed in any timely manner. There seems to be an us-against-them mentality, and a clear divide between some members and the mayor. As a result, all are losing sight of residents' needs.

Leadership starts at the top with the mayor and the council president. In my opinion, neither is faring well.

I have witnessed inappropriate, disrespectful, and unprofessional interactions, and that is concerning. As a result, we lost a respected, hard-working council member, Josie Moore.

With an election on the horizon, watch, listen, and be informed. Is this the leadership you hoped for?

As I witness the actions of “leadership," it is clear something needs to change if Cleveland Heights is to have a fully functioning council.  

Council Member Gail Larson and challenger Jim Petras are two who will be seeking our votes.

Gail Larson has been a calm, thoughtful legislator who has brought her community values and dedication to the Noble neighborhood, producing legislation to help homeowners and, in particular, seniors. Each time I contact the council to share concerns, Gail has always responded with an acknowledgment.  

Jim Petras is a young professional, the next generation, eager and passionate about this city. His measured and [engaging] approach brings people together every day to collaborate and solve problems. I have had the pleasure of working with him in the community, and I know him to be a hard-working leader who deserves a chance to serve his city. 

There is a lot at stake in this election. Cleveland Heights needs a strong, independent, and productive city council that works well with the mayor, but also serves as a check and balance when necessary. This is far from how council is functioning now. Remember this in November when you cast your ballot.

Tonya Horn

Tonya Horn is a concerned Noble neighborhood resident and was a member of the Citizens for an Elected Mayor campaign. She is a FutureHeights board member. The opinion expressed here is her own.

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Volume 16, Issue 8, Posted 1:45 PM, 07.31.2023