Latest News

Councilwoman Russell Announces Bid for Council President

Cleveland Heights Residents! Thank you for putting your trust in me and re-electing me to Cleveland Heights City Council. I am truly humbled and honored to have earned your vote and your trust. I vow to work every day for the betterment of ALL of our residents, and to maintain the trust you all have placed in me.

On Nov. 15, I announced my interest in becoming president of CH City Council in 2022. I thank Council Member Melody Joy Hart, who asked me “to think about being council president" when she was running for mayor.

In my short time on council, many things have been accomplished for our city. To start, I made the 2020 Census a top priority, ensuring our city’s numbers were accurate so that we receive the government funding we deserve. Next, legislation was created, in conjunction with Council members Hart and Ungar, denoting systemic racism as a public health crisis, and a community Racial Justice Task Force was created to address this issue.

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Volume 14, Issue 12, Posted 2:07 PM, 11.23.2021

Latest News Releases

Facing Eviction? Legal Aid Can Help!
- Legal Aid, October 6, 2021 Read More
New Volunteers Needed Volunteer with Hospice of the Western Reserve!
- Hospice of the Western Reserve, June 14, 2021 Read More
Heights Libraries wants public input on PEACE Park improvements
- CH-UH Library, June 14, 2021 Read More
Legal Aid Further Extends Eviction Prevention into Cuyahoga County Suburbs
- Legal Aid, June 8, 2021 Read More
Cleveland Water's 2020 Water Quality Report Now Available
- Cleveland Water, May 3, 2021 Read More

View more news releases

Pop-up holiday market comes to Coventry Village

Larchmere Fire Works

Made Cleveland will open its Holiday Pop Up market on Friday Nov. 26, in the former City Buddha space, at 1807 Coventry Road.

The market will be open until Dec. 23, and will feature the work of more than 50 local creators, including home goods, greeting cards, jewelry, accessories, apparel, self-care products, and provisions. 

The large space enables Larchmere Fire Works, a partner with Made Cleveland, to offer live glass-blowing demonstrations, as in the photo above. 

Hours are noon to 7 p.m. For more information, visit, or call 216-800-8420.

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Volume 14, Issue 12, Posted 1:41 PM, 11.23.2021

Lee Road gift shop to close after 7 years

S'Wonderful Gifts' closing sale opens to the public on Nov. 11. [photo: Rachel Gordon Art]

Bill Wort, owner of S’Wonderful Gifts, has decided to close his Lee Road store.

Citing competition from online retailers as the main reason, COVID the second, Wort decided to retire after seven years of running the gift shop.

“What I will miss the most is my customers,” Wort said. “They’ve always been so supportive, and made the extra effort to support my shop and other local businesses. What I’m most proud of is when my customers voted the store “The Best Place For Unique Gifts In Cleveland Heights.”

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Volume 14, Issue 12, Posted 10:04 AM, 11.08.2021

Campaign sign recycling drive runs through Nov. 14

Campaign signs along Cottage Grove Drive.

Like many items, campaign signs come with no end-of-life plan. They usually end up in the trash.

In an effort to divert waste from the landfill, and promote reusing, upcycling, and recycling, the Cleveland Heights Green Team, in partnership with Cuyahoga Solid Waste District (CSWD) will be collecting campaign signs Nov. 3–14.

There will be five collection points across the city: Dave's in Cedar-Fairmount, Dave's at Severance, Zagara's Marketplace on Lee Road, Heights Libraries Coventry Village Branch, and Save-A-Lot on Noble Road. A drop box for the signs will be clearly marked and conveniently located at the front of each store.

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Volume 14, Issue 12, Posted 10:41 AM, 11.04.2021

Heights voters elect Seren as CH mayor; re-elect Brennan in UH

In Cleveland Heights and University Heights, packed local election ballots—in which voters in each city elected a mayor, a number of city council representatives, and three school board members—failed to bring to the polls even half of eligible Heights voters.

According to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections (BOE) unofficial election results, with vote-by-mail ballots not yet fully reported, results in the various Heights races, as of Nov. 3, at noon, are as follows: 

In Cleveland Heights' two-candidate mayoral contest, voters elected Kahlil Seren with 6,790 votes (60.47%); Barbara Danforth received 4,438 votes (39.53%). A BOE report shows that there were 33,906 registered voters in Cleveland Heights, as of Nov. 1.

In University Heights, a city with 8,865 registered voters as of Nov. 1, incumbent Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan won re-election with 1,571 votes (48.50%).

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Volume 14, Issue 12, Posted 12:22 PM, 11.03.2021

2021 Heights Observer Holiday Gift Guide

The Heights Observer publishes its annual Holiday Gift Guide each November to encourage residents to shop locally for the holidays.

Cleveland Heights and University Heights abound with independent businesses—boutiques, salons, restaurants and artist collaboratives—which enhance our local character and anchor our business districts. 

COVID took its toll on many of these businesses, shuttering some and forcing others to augment online sales. Purchasing directly from brick-and-mortar stores bolsters our local economy and supports our identity, which is locally minded, and artisan supporting.  

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 11:20 AM, 10.29.2021

Mopping up after a tough campaign season

Note: This column was written a week before Election Day.

I had assumed the Cleveland Heights mayoral campaign would be the exciting race in this election season. Then the school board election took over. I think it's a sign of civic health that people are so engaged and passionate about local elections; it hasn't always been that way. But it's not pleasant.

As always, the goal for the Heights Observer was to serve as a venue for discussion about election issues without taking sides in the debate.

We didn’t make any endorsements (we never do), and we strived to publish the full range of viewpoints we received. That didn’t stop people from complaining we were biased—particularly those whose viewpoints we chose not to print.

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 11:48 AM, 10.29.2021

Join Friends of Heights Parks for a Nov. 13 walk

One of the walking trails at Forest Hill Park. [photo by Peggy Spaeth]

If the pandemic has taught us one thing, it’s to embrace the outdoors. Here in the Heights, we’re surrounded by more than 135 acres of parks, but many don’t take advantage of them. Some community members want to help change that. They believe Heights parks are unique and valuable assets, and they are planting the proverbial seeds. 

Still in its infancy, Friends of Heights Parks (FHP) has many ideas, but first on its agenda is opening up the conversation. (Or as they say these days, “expanding their friend group.”)

FHP comprises volunteers from Forest Hill Park, Friends of Cain Park, and Friends of Lower Lake, and is in the early stages of bringing community together to make every park a destination for residents, and a true reflection of our community. At the forefront is the question: How can we help preserve our parks and natural environment while fostering the values of caring about the earth and each other?

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 11:44 AM, 10.29.2021

Some unfinished business

Almost exactly two years ago, Cleveland Heights voters ratified a new form of government. Citizens for an Elected Mayor (CEM) committee members, who authored the mayor/council charter amendment, deliberately chose to make the change effective two years after its acceptance. They believed this much time was required to (1) allow city council and the administration to prepare for an orderly transition, and (2) allow aspiring mayors to decide to run, and then plan and conduct their campaigns.

To say it has been a challenging two years for people and governments around the world is certainly an understatement. Little did anyone realize in November 2019 that a global pandemic would, in just four short months, overtake every aspect of our lives. Yet, even when the lockdown seemed interminable, the weeks and months flew by.

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 11:12 AM, 10.29.2021

HRRC has served homeowners for 50 years

HRRC members, with a young helper, at work on a home rehab on Woodview Road, in the 1990s. [photo courtesy HRRC]

This autumn, the Home Repair Resource Center (HRRC) will mark its 50th anniversary.

Formed by a group of socially conscious parishioners at Forest Hill Church, the agency was known as the Forest Hill Church Housing Corporation at its outset.

In those early years, the organization’s members sought to address deteriorating housing stock, income inequalities, and racial inequities by taking on projects such as the original conversion of a double- into a single-family dwelling, and the creation of the still-active Challenge Fund, to provide low-interest loans to Heights residents who typically can’t obtain conventional home repair loans.

Through their work, a diverse mix of thousands of homeowners have utilized HRRC programs over the past half-century.

Today, HRRC continues its commitment to preserving this community’s housing stock, increasing the number of people able to purchase their first homes, providing financial assistance to homeowners needing important repairs, and working to reduce the number of unnecessary foreclosures.

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 11:26 AM, 10.29.2021

Reshaping Horseshoe Lake into a meadow is fantasy

A June 15 presentation by Frank Greenland of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD), “Shaker Lakes: Review and recommendations” (available online at, contains a proposal for re-shaping the bed of Horseshoe Lake (slide 27). The slide suggests replacing the lakebed with two streams meandering between tree-lined banks in a meadow. It’s a very appealing picture. I’ve heard others describe this scene as, “the natural beauty that was here before the Shakers arrived.”

Doubtless, engineers and landscape architects can design such a place, and bulldozers can construct it. But physics will not abide it for long.

I’m no geologist. What I’m saying here isn’t authoritative. But if the questions I raise have any validity, they could remove from the debate the idea that Horseshoe Lake’s bed could ever be a park-like sanctuary.

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 11:14 AM, 10.29.2021

Reaching Heights declares anti-racism is its top priority

I run Reaching Heights, a small nonprofit that connects the community to the public schools in Cleveland Heights and University Heights, through information, programs and events. Ideally, all that we do also enriches students, supports school staff, and encourages people to value the students in our schools, and appreciate public education.

Like many organizations, Reaching Heights responded with an anti-racism statement to the horror of George Floyd’s murder by police. We knew that a statement was not enough, and chose to spend much of 2020 and 2021 working internally on anti-racism within our organization.

We added anti-racism training to each of our monthly board meetings, and offered the Racial Equity Institute’s Groundwater training to our staff and board. We collaborated with five other local nonprofits to hold the anti-racism event “Heights Conversations: Let’s Talk About Race.”

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 11:18 AM, 10.29.2021

Meals on Wheels delivers more than food

Volunteer Coordinator Marlene Perez delivers meals to Curtis Ross. 

Volunteers with the Cleveland Heights Meals on Wheels program deliver a hot and a cold meal four days a week to 18–22 homebound senior clients. 

The program began in Cleveland Heights in 1978 with the goal of providing nutritious food, a friendly visit, and a quick safety check.

The food is prepared by the kitchen staff at McGregor Retirement Community, and volunteers pack the meals into individual portions at the Fairmount Presbyterian Church kitchen.

Additional volunteers are needed.

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 11:07 AM, 10.29.2021

There's trouble at Top of the Hill

In late 2019 and early 2020 I wrote several opinions, published in the Heights Observer, [in which I] promoted the Top of Hill (TOH) project, and debunked [objections to it]. In February 2020, I attended a meeting at CH City Hall and watched as many people spoke out against the project, and a few spoke for it.

Now, Cleveland Heights citizens are treated to a YouTube video ( ) showing a waterfall within the TOH parking garage, and poor drainage, after a recent heavy rain.

After I saw this on Facebook, I visited the TOH parking garage and asked a construction worker about what was shown [in the video]. “It wasn’t a leak,” he said. “It was a waterfall.” Asked if this was normal, he said, “This is not normal.”

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 11:20 AM, 10.29.2021

FutureHeights awards four mini-grants

Cleveland Heights Green Team, one of this fall's mini-grant recipients, held an EcoFair at Coventry PEACE Park on Oct. 9. [photo by Sarah Wolf]

In October, the FutureHeights Neighborhood Mini-Grants Committee awarded a total of $4,000—$1,000 each—to four community projects.  

Cleveland Heights Green Team received funding for its Green Space Beautification and Sustainability Education project, which includes programming and the distribution of educational materials. The group plans to host a series of community events, and FutureHeights' $1,000 mini-grant will help cover the cost of materials, including art supplies, printing, and community clean-up items.

Fairfax Community Garden received funding to replace deteriorating border boards along the pathway of the garden, which comprises nine individual plots on the grounds of Fairfax Elementary School.

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 11:39 AM, 10.29.2021

Mapmakers fail to share power

Road maps guide our travel. Legislative-district maps allocate political power.

In September, the League of Women Voters of Ohio, the A. Philip Randolph Institute, and the ACLU of Ohio filed suit against the Ohio Redistricting Commission (ORC) for failure to draw legislative maps that will provide the level of shared power required by the Ohio Constitution. The Ohio Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Dec. 8.

In 2015, more than 70 percent of Ohio voters approved changes to the state constitution intended to make state government more representative of voters. One provision requires that “no general assembly district plan shall be drawn primarily to favor or disfavor a political party.” Mapmakers are compelled to set boundaries for Ohio senate and house districts that are compact and competitive, not “cracked” or “packed.”

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 11:10 AM, 10.29.2021

United Way appoints Surratt community investment chief

Ken Surratt [photo: United Way of Greater Cleveland]

August Napoli, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Cleveland, announced the appointment of Cleveland Heights resident Kenneth Surratt as vice president of community investment and chief investment officer, effective Oct. 18.

"Ken is an accomplished, forward-thinking and highly respected strategist, and the right leader at the right time to carry forward United Way of Greater Cleveland's important community investment vision,” Napoli said. “Ken's more than 25 years of experience working across government, nonprofit and for-profit organizations to create and execute strategies, programs, and partnerships has proven invaluable in driving meaningful, lasting results across the organizations and communities he has served.”

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 11:03 AM, 10.29.2021

Meadowbrook-Lee project should be reassessed

When People for the Park asks Cleveland Heights voters to sign our petition—to put on the ballot in May that the city build a park on the 1.07 acres of city-owned property on Lee Road between Tullamore Road and Meadowbrook Boulevard—we hear lots of reasons why people support it.

After hearing Don King speak at the Cleveland Heights City Council meeting on Monday, Oct. 4, we all have another reason to support the park. King lives at Buckingham Condominiums, right next to the Top of the Hill (TOH) project. At the meeting, he talked about two problems with the developer and the TOH buildings. One was the developer’s unwillingness to move the private dog park [away] from the entrance of the Buckingham. The other was the water leaking in the new TOH garage, and the lack of response to the leaking. (You can view his comments in the video of the council meeting, at He speaks at the 2:34:23 time mark.)

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 10:58 AM, 10.29.2021

Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education meeting highlights 11-3-2021

NOVEMBER 3, 2021, regular meeting


  • Superintendent and treasurer contracts
  • New positions
  • Equity, OSBA withdrawal from NSBA 


Present were President James Posch, Dan Heintz, Malia Lewis, Jodi Sourini, and Beverly Wright. Also present were Superintendent Elizabeth Kirby and Treasurer Scott Gainer. The meeting was called to order at 7 p.m. and was adjourned at 8:50 p.m.

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Volume 14, Issue 12, Posted 9:23 AM, 11.23.2021

Heights Libraries seeks new board member

The Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library is accepting applications for an open board position, with applications due Friday, Nov. 19, by 5 p.m. The new board member will replace Dana Fluellen, who is rolling off the board after serving her term.                                                                                                  

“Our library is such an integral part of our community,” said Heights Libraries Director Nancy Levin. “Serving on the library board is one of the best ways a citizen can serve the Heights community, by helping guide the vision of the public library.”

Prospective applicants are strongly encouraged to attend an in-person informational meeting about library board service on Tuesday, Nov. 16, at 7 p.m. To RSVP, send an e-mail to

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 10:53 AM, 10.29.2021

Horseshoe Lake saved my soul

We in the Heights are grieving the possible loss of Horseshoe Lake. What can be measured, folded, and placed neatly in a box are environmental, stormwater management, and financial concerns. Quantifying what has served for years as a pillar of human spiritual sustenance is not so easy.

Since moving back to Shaker Heights, from Pittsburgh, 20-some years ago, Horseshoe Lake has served as my spiritual source—a place of indescribable respite, tranquility, and beauty. When I decided to address my alcoholism, Horseshoe Lake saved me. Teetering on the edge of spiritual death, I returned to Horseshoe Lake daily, filling up my cup—figuratively speaking—each visit, so that I could face one more day. Later, sober and with young daughters, I would walk to Horseshoe Lake, finding peace as a confused and harried working mom. Courage to go another day. This place helped me do that. Over and over, for two decades.

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 11:00 AM, 10.29.2021

Sometimes a park isn't just a park

On Nov. 2, Cleveland Heights voters will elect a mayor for the first time in a century. Issue 26, which gave residents the ability to decide whether they wanted to elect a mayor, was the first step in replacing an appointed city manager, accountable only to seven city council members, with a leader who is directly accountable to voters. 

An elected-mayor form of government, on its own, will not guarantee the outcomes we desire. We must continue to erode the power that small networks of privileged stakeholders wield over the rest of us, which they use to impose narrow visions of growth and well-being onto the physical landscape that we inhabit.

A growing association of residents is circulating a petition calling for the creation of a park at the corner of Lee and Meadowbrook, instead of new commercial space and apartments for “professionals . . . looking for a luxury living experience” (as described in the city’s RFQ/RFP for the site).

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 10:55 AM, 10.29.2021

One road, three cities

A few years ago, my commute from the Cedar Fairmount neighborhood did a "180," from downtown to Mayfield Heights—a straight shot up Cedar Road.

I soon noticed a stark difference in conditions once you cross Green Road and enter Beachwood. I realize that Beachwood enjoys newer infrastructure and a tax base boosted by a robust business community; that said, much of the difference in conditions can be attributed to the example the city sets maintaining its own properties, and the standard it holds its residents to.

I realize that not every [Heights] property owner has the means to keep their property in tip-top shape, but I'm talking about the basics here.

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 11:16 AM, 10.29.2021

What’s going on at your library?

Coventry Village Branch

1925 Coventry Road, 216-321-3400

Friday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m.

Kids Craft Day. Feeling cooped up because of COVID? Meet us outside of the Coventry Village Library, at the tent and table where we will have an array of children's craft supplies, including beads, friendship bracelet string, pipe cleaners, and more. For kids ages 5 to 18.

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 10:50 AM, 10.29.2021

Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 11-1-21

NOVEMBER 1, 2021 – regular meeting


  • Public comments
  • City manager’s report
  • Council action
  • Consent agenda


Present were Council President Jason Stein, Vice President, Kahlil Seren, Craig Cobb, Melody Joy Hart, and Davida Russell. Michael N. Ungar was absent. Also present were City Manager Susanna Niermann O’Neil, Clerk of Council and Finance Director Amy Himmelein, and Law Director William Hanna. The meeting lasted a little over a half hour.

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Volume 14, Issue 12, Posted 9:18 AM, 11.23.2021

Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 10-18-21

OCTOBER 18, 2021 – regular meeting


  • Public comments
  • City manager’s report
  • Council actions
  • Council member comments


Present were Council President Jason Stein, Vice President, Kahlil Seren, Craig Cobb, Melody Joy Hart, and Davida Russell. Michael N. Ungar was absent. Also present were Susanna Niermann O’Neil, city manager; Amy Himmelein, clerk of council and finance director; and William Hanna, law director. The meeting lasted a little over a half hour.

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Volume 14, Issue 12, Posted 9:16 AM, 11.23.2021

Cleveland Heights – University Heights Public Library Board of Trustees meeting highlights 10-18-2021

OCTOBER 18, 2021


  • Family Connections presentation
  • Financial and investment report
  • Director’s report
  • Board resolutions
  • Public service report


Present were President Dana Fluellen, Vice President Gabe Crenshaw, Patti Carlyle, Tyler McTeague and Vikas Turakhia. Max Gerboc and Annette Iwamoto were absent.

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Volume 14, Issue 12, Posted 9:19 AM, 11.23.2021

Coventry Village celebrates Halloween with special events Oct. 29

On Friday, Oct. 29, Coventry Village will celebrate Halloween with a variety of special evening events, to be held in conjunction with its regularly scheduled Final Fridays Art Walk + Market.

CovenTREAT Trick or Treat will feature a candy crawl at district businesses, from 5 to 7 p.m.

From 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., Lake Erie Ink will host a Haunted Haikus and Mask Making event at its space inside the Coventry PEACE Campus building, at 2843 Washington Blvd. 

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 12:35 PM, 10.26.2021

Vote for Noble Road in America’s Main Streets Contest

FutureHeights has nominated Noble Road in the America’s Main Streets Contest. More than 100 places across the country have been nominated this year, all vying for the chance to win $25,000 in cash and prizes. This “popularity contest” is won by the nominee who gets the most votes. Anyone who wants to participate can vote as often as once per hour every day until Nov. 7, at which time Noble Road will either advance to the quarter-finals or be eliminated from the running.

To vote, go to

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 10:47 AM, 10.26.2021

Library's 1619 Project continues to explore issues of race

Librarian John Piche researches race-related issues that serve as discussion starters and reference texts for the ongoing 1619 Project program series.

When COVID-19 hit Ohio in March 2020, Heights Libraries shut down and canceled most of its programs. With the help of the now ubiquitous video platform Zoom, the library was able to hold some programs online: storytimes, book discussions, and knitting groups all made the switch. None were more successful than the 1619 Project discussion series.

Over the course of 2020, a total of 337 people attended ten 1619 Project-inspired discussions via Zoom, and so far in 2021, 155 have attended eight online programs.

“The 1619 Project” itself, the original New York Times publication, is almost two years old. Librarian John Piche, who runs the Heights Libraries’ 1619 Project discussion series, has used it as a foundation to continue holding popular programs that address the issue of racial equity. Piche and other staff now do their own research and create reading packets that serve as discussion starters and reference texts for the ongoing program series.

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 10:17 AM, 10.29.2021

Holiday shop at Heights Arts opens Nov. 5

Hometown (print), by Maggie Denk-Leigh.

Heights Arts will open its annual Holiday Store on Friday, Nov. 5.

Each year, as the holiday season nears, Heights Arts expands its Lee Road shop to fill its entire gallery space. Giving a gift from Heights Arts also gives back: Every gift purchased at the local arts’ hub helps support both the artist who created it, and the nonprofit Heights Arts.

Among the artists and items featured this holiday season are lithographic prints by Maggie Denk-Leigh, fine jewelry by Emily Joyce, prints on metal by Abby Star, hand-blown glass by Mark Sudduth, creative cards by Katie Ford, cyanotype prints by Paula Zinsmeister, wheel-thrown bowls by Marty Resnick, oil paintings by J. Allon Hall, and unique ceramic sculptures by Mark Yasenchack. 

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 10:24 AM, 10.29.2021

Heights High takes golden racquet in win over Beaumont

UH Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan presents the golden racquet to the winning Heights High team.

Each year, the Beaumont School and Cleveland Heights High School varsity girls’ tennis teams face off to bring home the “golden racquet.”

This year’s matchup took place at Purvis Park, on Sept. 27, with the Heights High Tigers beating the Beaumont Blue Streaks, 3-2.

The trophy, a tennis racquet painted gold, went home with the Tigers and will stay with them until the teams meet again next year.

Beaumont’s head coach Mike Pellechia was feeling pretty confident when his team took an early two-court advantage, with Maggie Brady taking second singles, and the second doubles team of Sarah Wolf and Brooklyn Roulette winning in straight sets.

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 10:19 AM, 10.29.2021

CH Green Team hosts council candidate sustainability forum

Candidates Lee Barbee II, Tony Cuda and Craig Cobb spoke at the Oct. 13 sustainability forum.

On Oct. 13 and 14, the Cleveland Heights Green Team hosted forums with five full-term CH City Council candidates, in which environmental leaders engaged candidates in a Q-and-A session exploring the concept of governing with a "sustainability lens." Questions were provided prior to the forum. Five out of the six candidates were available to participate, with Davida Russell unable to attend.

The five participating candidates agreed that updating the city’s master plan with clear and actionable sustainability guidelines should be a priority, and that a CH sustainability director should be appointed. 

Candidate Lee Barbee II explained that “the Cleveland Heights’ tree logo should serve as a metaphor for the city’s responsibility to develop and implement policies and processes designed to protecting green space and promoting more environmentally friendly practices.”

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 10:41 AM, 10.26.2021

Wait. THAT Janice?

Janice Mitchell in recent times, at the Rock Hall, far from Liverpool.

This girl, Janice, and I watched the Beatles’ American debut on "The Ed Sullivan Show," on Feb. 9, 1964. We were on Belmar Road in Cleveland Heights. I mean, we weren’t together in the same place—we were watching the show in our own houses, both on Belmar.

I didn’t really know Janice. She was a year older than I, and she hadn’t been living on Belmar very long. But my friend Phil down the street talked about Janice all the time. He had a big crush on her. I’d met her and, through hearing about her from Phil, I was beginning to feel a little like I knew her.

She seemed quiet, unassuming, maybe kind of shy, not very outgoing, kind of reserved. She didn’t seem to leave her house much, except to go to school. One day, Phil mentioned that she had tickets for the Beatles’ first Cleveland concert, coming up in September 1964 at Public Hall. I was surprised and impressed.

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 10:27 AM, 10.29.2021

Remember 'Just Say NO To Political Deals'?

Hard to believe, but things have gotten even nastier in just the two years since that negative ballot issue campaign, brought to us from the city council funded anti-elected mayor campaign and their $25,000 donor corporate lobbyist partners.

I was the one who discover the $25,000 lobbyist money via a public records request. Which actually became $30,000.

And with my help, they lost by nearly 2:1.

Let's all send that same message in 2021, and not support any candidates who rely on hate and misinformation.

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 10:20 AM, 10.26.2021

Give the outsiders a chance

One of our neighbors thought it was strange to see the bipartisan collection of signs in our front yard. I think it shows that democracy is alive, and we need to put aside party affiliations to support the best candidates. 

I am favoring the outsiders on Nov. 2.  I am supporting candidates who will bring new ideas and energy to Cleveland Heights. I’ll leave it to others to praise current incumbents, but I think we need some significant changes or we will certainly get more of the same, and probably much less.

Starting with mayoral candidate Barbara Danforth, her sign was the first in our yard. Her campaign people noticed that I had agreed with her online (Nextdoor), and offered us a sign. For the next sign, I actually worked with Tony Cuda on the popular transition to an elected mayor, so I was happy to support him.

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 10:19 AM, 10.26.2021

A public school performance review means program cuts

On its surface, a performance review to locate public-school inefficiencies seems benign.

However, the purpose of a performance review is to justify programming cuts by identifying anything beyond the minimum state requirements.

In the CH-UH school district, this would mean cutting or eliminating arts, athletics, AP courses, preschool, and the Career and Technical Education program.

Is CH-UH to be known as a destination for mediocrity in education? Because, with such cuts, public-school families will only need to take a quick look at Shaker Heights or Lakewood to realize that, if they live in those communities, they will get excellent, comprehensive educations. 

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 10:00 AM, 10.26.2021

A letter from a CH voter that we declined to publish

The following letter to the editor was submitted by Cleveland Heights resident Bonnie Dolezal after the October print issue had been printed and distributed. The Heights Observer declined to publish it online. Reaction to this decision has threatened to distract from the important issues the community faces at the end of this busy, local election season. Therefore, we have decided to publish the original letter along with the feedback we provided to Dolezal via e-mail. Further—for those who might say, yes, but the writer revised the letter, and the Heights Observer still didn’t publish it—we’re also including the revised letter, and the e-mail we sent to the writer in response.

School Board 'Hit Piece' Mailer, by Bonnie Dolezal:

There is a Political Action Committee (PAC) who is opposing the Drake-Lynn-Rennert School Board slate. This PAC has gone to new levels of incivility. They have now published a nasty sinister mailer trying to portray these candidates as radicals who want to undermine the public schools. It isn’t even clear if this information about them is true.

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 4:11 PM, 10.18.2021

A letter from a BOE candidate that we declined to publish

The following letter to the editor was submitted by CH-UH school board candidate Maureen Lynn after the October print issue had been printed and distributed. The Heights Observer declined to publish it online. Over the next few days, reaction to this decision began to distract from the important issues the community faces at the end of this busy, local election season. Therefore, while the reason for our initial decision hasn't changed, we are publishing the original letter and ensuing correspondence that explains our thinking behind the decision.  

Clarification on Masks & the Library, by Maureen Lynn:

With all of the slander, malice and un-truths out there, I wanted to clarify my position. I am NOT anti-science, NOT anti-masks and NOT anti-vaccinations. The peaceful protest at the library was to stand in solidarity with a friend who is disabled and has a legitimate Medical Exemption. Simply put, she is disabled and cannot wear a mask. She home-schools her children and the Library is a necessary part of their education. Receiving books ‘curb-side’ is not a sufficient educational experience for these children.

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 4:11 PM, 10.18.2021

Cleveland Heights mayoral debate to be livestreamed Oct. 12

A debate between Cleveland Heights first-ever mayoral candidates Barbara Danforth and Khalil Seren will stream live on YouTube on Tuesday, Oct. 12, from 7-8:40pm.

Presented by FutureHeights and the League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland (LWVGC), and with support from Heights Libraries, the event will be moderated by John Carroll University political science professor Sara Schiavoni.   

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 10:10 AM, 10.12.2021

48 Heights High students and graduates named AP scholars

James Huff III and Nathaniel Tyler, AP Scholars with Honor, were recognized by the CH-UH Board of Education.

The College Board has recognized 48 members of Cleveland Heights High School’s classes of 2021 and 2022 for their outstanding performance on Advanced Placement (AP) exams. The College Board, which administers the AP tests, honors students across the country who score at a consistently high level on its annual exams.

The board named 28 Heights High students as AP Scholars for earning scores of 3 or higher on three or more exams. Those students are: Vincent Bellini, Vanner Bochik, Isabella Bradley, Patricia Chen, Adele Dooner, Patrick Dooner, Maria Fehn, Zak Ferguson, Emmet Fluharty, Braedan Gallagher, Grant Gober, Claire Hall, Andrew Heintz, Ella Herr, Nathan Keller, Leo Kenealy, Derek Korane, Eryn Lawson, Leela Manne, Nathalie Nicol, Elly Obondo, Wolfe Pehowic, Julian Postak, Gabrielle Price, Joseph Russo, Michaela Schomisch, Rowan Trammell, and Meridith Vandall.

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 3:36 PM, 10.11.2021

Seren endorses Mattox Jr. for CH City Council

I enthusiastically endorse Anthony Mattox Jr. for Cleveland Heights City Council. Anthony brings people together, he uplifts, and he educates. He has earned my trust and admiration as an engaged civic leader and advocate working for the health and safety of our community.

Anthony already serves our city in an advisory capacity as a Cleveland Heights Planning Commissioner. His six years of continuous service reviewing and approving projects, assisting with development and planning, and partnering with residents and businesses to improve their properties makes him incredibly knowledgeable and an ideal choice for tackling economic development moving forward. 

Anthony’s background in municipal finance, risk assessment, loss mitigation, and process improvement will lend additional fiscal accountability and support to council, our city’s ultimate budgetary authority.

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 4:21 PM, 10.08.2021

Seren endorses Moore in race to fill Dunbar’s vacant council seat

Josephine “Josie” Moore has my unequivocal support for Cleveland Heights City Council. I can’t think of a better choice to fill the vacancy left by my colleague Mary Dunbar. Mary championed environmental and health initiatives, working with me to find common ground on issues like sustainability and safe, multimodal transportation. Josie’s platform is forward-thinking, and sustainability focused because she knows that today’s decisions, large and small, impact future generations.

She believes that it is incumbent upon us as elected officials to thoughtfully gather information and ask questions before taking decisive action in the best interest of the people. Her service to our city on the Citizens Advisory Committee shows a dedication to positive and productive civic involvement that is not found in the other candidates.

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 4:19 PM, 10.08.2021

Dew failed to disclose his school-district connections in his October opinion

The Heights Observer’s October issue featured an opinion by Adam Dew (“A MAGA school board coup is afoot in the Heights”), disclosing [that he is a promotional] partner of the publication, but without the complete picture.

In that fevered nightmare vision, Dew made deeply personal attacks on each candidate of the Lynn-Drake-Rennert school board slate. What wasn’t disclosed was that, since 2018, he sits on the school district’s Lay Finance Committee (LFC), with school board president James Posch and district CFO Scott Gainer. This means he is no mere citizen, since the LFC does not publish its meeting minutes and has not issued a report since 2019. This creates a conflict of interest, since Dew has been a commercial vendor for the district, making over $13,000 in 2019–20 alone from business between it and his video company.

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 3:59 PM, 10.08.2021

Council-watchers endorse Seren for mayor

Having attended most Cleveland Heights City Council and Committee of the Whole meetings since 2015, we have seen Kahlil Seren in action several times a month for close to seven years. In disposition and demeanor, he is well-suited to public office.

We have witnessed Kahlil taking brutal and often undeserved criticism from certain council colleagues without reacting defensively. It’s a rare quality, and one that would well serve many elected officials and others in authority. When asked how he does it, he replied quietly, “Well, I meditate a lot.” And, he said at a meet and greet this summer, “I have learned to pick my battles.”

As a biracial man raised by a lesbian couple and married to a biracial woman, Kahlil understands and values the precious racial, gender, economic and social diversity of Cleveland Heights. He knows it is rare, even within Cuyahoga County.

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 5:08 PM, 10.07.2021

Electing 'new core' team of CH council members is important

A new type of city council is required by the passage of Issue 26. Council will become a legislative body working with a directly elected executive mayor serving a four-year term. It no longer will act as a board of trustees that supervises a city manager it can fire at any time.

I served on city council in Cleveland Heights for eight years. I know the importance of council members who focus on truly important stuff, keep their egos on a leash, and know how to play well with others. I see the potential election of a new core group that could govern well.

Craig Cobb has admirable skills, both professional and personal. He is an experienced attorney and a cool head. He cares deeply about maintaining quality city services. He has been appointed twice to fill vacancies and serve on city council. He is respected by those who understand what the job will require, and he richly deserves election in his own right.

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 12:00 PM, 10.06.2021

Stonewall Dems endorse Seren; say Danforth is misrepresenting her stance on LGBTQIA+ rights

During [Cleveland Heights mayoral candidate] Barbara Danforth’s interview, seeking the endorsement of the Cleveland Stonewall Democrats (CSD), she stated that she needed to confirm whether advocating for LGBTQIA+ rights would be popular with other constituent demographics in the community before being willing to take a stance as an advocate. 

Her answers in CSD’s candidate questionnaire, and the answers she gave in her interview with us, came from a place of not just ignorance, but animosity and shallow respect toward the LGBTQIA+ residents of Cleveland Heights. 

Danforth’s interview was so difficult that many of our volunteers wanted to stop it midway through, as she just wasn’t remotely open to education on LGBTQIA+ issues. She also argued with interviewers about the rights of trans and gender non-conforming people needing access to safe restrooms.

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 5:13 PM, 10.05.2021

UH Fall Fest returns on Oct. 10

Custom wood items by Seeker WoodWorks.

University Heights Fall Fest, first held in 2019, returns to Walter Stinson Community Park on Sunday, Oct. 10, from 1 to 5 p.m.

The event will feature more than 50 artists and vendors from across Northeast Ohio, activities for the kids, circus performers, and a concert from '80s dance band Back 2 The Future. (And with the Cleveland Browns kicking off at 4:05 p.m. on Sunday, vs. the Los Angeles Chargers, one can attend all of Fall Fest and be back in plenty of time for the second half of the game.)

“Fall Fest is another way we are building a sense of community here in University Heights,” said Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan.

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 11:07 AM, 10.05.2021

Russell will continue to enact positive change

To the Editor:

As a longtime resident of Cleveland Heights, I have seen our community undergo some wonderful changes in the past year and a half, because of Davida Russell’s service on city council. That is why I am urging voters to re-elect her on Nov. 2.

Davida is helping to create stronger neighborhoods that attract young families and retain retirees, as well as targeting investment to our commercial corridors.

I am confident Davida will follow through on her promise to keep Cleveland Heights moving forward.

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 10:47 AM, 10.05.2021

NextDoor can be helpful or hurtful

It was the day after my 69th birthday. I asked myself—why am I here? 

It was an ordinary day. I got in the car to do errands. I passed the elementary school and turned left on Canterbury Road, heading toward Meadowbrook. I was driving down a hill. Something caught my eye. There was a young child pedaling quickly down the hill on the sidewalk. 

A thought came into my mind. Something is not right! This child should not be pedaling quickly downhill. I drove slowly, alongside him. Maybe my unconscious mind was offering protection.

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 10:45 AM, 10.05.2021

Protest co-organizer expresses support for Russell

As co-organizer of the Protest For Peace at city hall in June 2020, I support the re-election of CH City Council Member Russell.

She walked up to me before the march began and asked to march alongside me, then did. At this protest she promised a crowd of over 500 locals a town hall to express their concerns, and she delivered. She organized an audience with myself and [a peer] with the Cleveland Heights Chief of Police to discuss our concerns and next steps, then proceeded to plan and deliver on another town hall meeting where the police department and my peers were present. She even provided me and my colleagues an opportunity to sit down and talk history and change with Mr. William Lucy, a notable right-hand man for Nelson Mandela.

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 10:44 AM, 10.05.2021

2021 Voters Guide to local candidates and issues

The League of Women Voters has created a guide to local candidates and issues for the Nov. 2 election. Click on the links below to access information for candidates and issues. Candidate questions were selected by the Heights Chapter of the League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland, and all candidate information and answers were submitted by the candidates themselves.  

A print version of the guide is available as an insert in the October issue of the Heights Observer, available for free at numerous locations around town.

The deadline to register to vote is Oct. 4. Eligible voters may register, or update their registration, by visiting Early, in-person voting begins Oct. 7 for Cleveland Heights and University Heights. (Note: This is two days after the county's early-voting date because both communities held September primaries.)

The deadline for Board of Elections (BOE) receipt of Vote by Mail (VBM)/Absentee ballot applications is Oct. 30. The last day to mail a VBM/Absentee ballot is Nov. 1. Ballots must be postmarked on or before Nov. 1, and received by the BOE by Nov. 12. Voters can hand deliver their VBM/Absentee ballots to a drop box at the board of elections building (corner of Euclid Avenue and E. 30th Street) up until the polls close on election day (i.e November 2, 7:30 pm). They can return to the drop box their own ballot and that of an immediate family member, but no one else’s. 

General Election Day is Nov. 2, 2021. Polls are open 6:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.


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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 7:57 AM, 10.02.2021

A look at the races and issues on Heights ballots Nov. 2

Kahlil Seren (left) and Barbara Danforth are the two remaining candidates vying to become Cleveland Heights' first directly elected mayor.

In the Sept. 14 primary election, Cleveland Heights residents cast votes for one of three mayoral candidates. The top two primary finishers, Barbara Danforth and Kahlil Seren, will now face off in the race for Cleveland Heights mayor, in the general election on Nov. 2.

Voter turnout for Cleveland Heights' first mayoral primary election was low, with votes cast by fewer than 7,000 of the city's approximately 33,967 (as of Sept. 1) registered voters.

Mary Dunbar’s resignation from Cleveland Heights City Council on Aug. 16, effective immediately, created a vacancy for her unexpired term, which runs through Dec. 31, 2023.

After initially announcing that CH City Council members would appoint someone to the vacant seat, council later authorized a special election for the unexpired term, to be held on the same day as the general election.

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 12:36 PM, 10.01.2021

Halloween festival is planned for Cedar Lee

On Saturday, Oct. 23, Dobama Theatre will present the inaugural Heights Halloween Festival, in collaboration with Wizbang!, the city of Cleveland Heights, and the Cedar Lee Special Improvement District. 

This new, free, family-friendly event will take place 4–7 p.m., in the Cedar Lee Business District on Lee Road. The traditional Cedar-Lee Kids Candy Crawl will be incorporated into the festival, so participants are encouraged to bring their goodie bags and be ready to trick-or-treat at businesses along the route. 

The centerpiece of the event will take place at the green space at the intersection of Meadowbrook Boulevard and Lee Road. There will be a variety of activities to watch and do, such as character meet-and-greets, where families will have an opportunity to take photos with well-known and beloved characters, and juggling circus performers.

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 12:28 PM, 10.01.2021

New book recounts Heights girls’ wild quest to meet the Beatles

Cleveland Heights was at the center of one of the most unusual Beatles fan stories ever, although few people remember it today.

In September 1964, two 16-year-old Heights girls became international news for weeks when they ran away to London, England, in search of the Beatles. Eventually apprehended and returned for a public punishment, they never spoke of their adventure again. Until now.

Janice Mitchell tells her story in a new book, My Ticket to Ride: How I Ran Away to England to Meet the Beatles and Got Rock and Roll Banned in Cleveland. It’s a vivid, firsthand account of the early days of Beatlemania.

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 12:25 PM, 10.01.2021

Library presents renovation options for Noble branch

Rick Ortmeyer of Bostick Design Partnership presents preliminary design ideas for the Noble Neighborhood Branch renovation.

On Wednesday, Sept. 8, Heights Libraries held an open house at its Noble Neighborhood Branch to present rough renovation ideas for the 84-year-old location. A crowd of approximately 30 residents watched a presentation by Rick Ortmeyer from Bostick Design Partnership, the firm hired by the library to create preliminary designs and conduct public meetings to gather feedback on those ideas. 

“Rick’s firm has lots of experience designing libraries, and a great track record on effectively gathering and using public feedback in building designs," said Heights Libraries Director Nancy Levin. "So we knew they’d do a great job with these first, broad steps.” 

Ortmeyer’s presentation included several options for increasing space for library users of all ages by building an expansion where the Noble Road Presbyterian Church building and surrounding 1.3 acres of property currently stand.

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 12:19 PM, 10.01.2021

UH library encourages creativity with new traveling sketchbooks

The traveling sketchbooks can be found in the children's area at the University Heights branch of Heights Libraries.

Heights Libraries University Heights branch is encouraging kids to share their creativity—with the library and with one another—by way of a new traveling sketchbook collection.

Throughout the months of October and November, young people can come in and draw in a sketchbook at one of the library's tables, or sign out a sketchbook and take it home to draw in, and then return.

At the end of the project, the library hopes it will have a collection of local young artists’ work that it can share with the community.

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 11:07 AM, 10.01.2021

Electing Clopton-Zymler to BOE is a win for arts and diversity

To the Editor:

I have known Mario Clopton-Zymler for 10 years, as a fellow musician, a colleague in the Heights schools, and as a friend. His breadth of experience will serve all stakeholders in our school district—above all, our children.

CH-UH is, or ought to be, THE destination district for the arts. Having Mario on the CH-UH Board of Education can only strengthen that position. Why the arts? Its education teaches the whole child and is demonstrably linked to better outcomes in the traditionally academic subjects. It is a strength of our community that we are home to so many arts professionals, from poets to playwrights, painters, and musicians.

Clopton-Zymler is also the only Black candidate for school board in a district that is over 70% African American.

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 12:15 PM, 10.01.2021

Don't waste any school board votes

In this year’s school board election, you will be asked to vote for your top three candidates from a pool of seven, and the top three “winners” will take the three open school board seats.

As a 13-year Heights resident and father of a Noble Elementary School fourth-grader, I implore you to vote your entire ballot in the school board election; please vote for three pro-school candidates.

This seems like an inherently odd request. Vote for three pro-school candidates for school board? Who wouldn’t? But in this election, in my view as a dedicated parent and resident, there are four “pro-public school” candidates and three “anti-public school” candidates.

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 12:13 PM, 10.01.2021