'Please apply here . . .'

What a difference a year makes. After Cleveland Heights City Council deadlocked on appointing a replacement for Josie Moore within 45 days of her December 2022 resignation, Mayor Kahlil Seren chose Janine Boyd to fill Moore’s former seat on Feb. 10, 2023.

Less than four months after winning election in November 2023 to a four-year term, Boyd has announced that she and her family will move to Virginia post haste, leaving council to fill her seat within the required 45 days, beginning March 18; if not, the appointment will again be made by the mayor. However, with newcomer Jim Petras on board (and absent former president Melody Hart), this is a new council. We doubt the current leadership team of President Tony Cuda and Vice President Davida Russell will have trouble finding four votes to make a timely appointment.

By the time this article sees print, the deadline to apply will be imminent or have passed. Council should be starting to evaluate the applications. To retain the seat until Dec. 31, 2027, the end of what would have been Boyd’s term, the appointee will have to run for election this Nov. 5. The term of an appointee losing that race would end on Dec. 31; the winner will hold the seat for three years, from Jan. 1, 2025 through the end of 2027.

We hope to see a diverse field of qualified applicants for council to consider. What do we mean by "qualified"? If the choice were ours, we would look for someone who understands what and how much a council member does, and has the time, energy and commitment to take it on. Qualified applicants would have observed Committee of the Whole and council meetings for at least several months, if not a full year. They should have some first-hand familiarity with how city government works, gained either by serving on a citizen board or commission, or by working on an advocacy project giving them significant contact with city officials. And they should have lived in Cleveland Heights for a few years, at minimum.

We wish the best of luck to those seeking the vacant seat. Since only one can be chosen, we hope the remaining applicants, if not already serving on any of the city’s many citizen boards and commissions, will consider applying for one or more of those.

We'd like to direct the public to a single, comprehensive list of boards and commissions, with a brief description and mission statement for each. Unfortunately, the information on www.clevelandheights.gov is incomplete and, in some cases, outdated. We attempted our own tally (see our unofficial list of CH boards and commissions), but caution that it is completely unofficial and also likely incomplete.

Per the Cleveland Heights charter, appointments to most boards and commissions are the sole purview of city council. Via legislation passed by a submissive council, Mayor Seren now has the privilege of appointing some of the members of several such groups, subject to council confirmation. In fact, at present he has authority to appoint all members of only three (the Arts and Civil Service commissions and Community Improvement Corporation), also with council confirmation.

Regrettably, the mayor has made the divisive and, in our opinion, unwise decision to separately invite residents to apply for “mayoral appointments.” Since most appointments to these groups are divided between council and the mayor, all candidates should apply through a single portal, giving all elected officials access to the same applicant pool.

If you decide to apply for a board or commission, we encourage you to ignore the mayor’s ill-advised appeal and submit your application through the Boards and Commissions page on www.clevelandheights.gov. The applications are identical.

Deborah Van Kleef and Carla Rautenberg

Deborah Van Kleef and Carla Rautenberg are writers, editors and longtime residents of Cleveland Heights. Contact them at heightsdemocracy@gmail.com.

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Volume 17, Issue 4, Posted 11:17 AM, 03.28.2024