Cleveland Heights reopens search for Evans' replacement
Cleveland Heights City Council announced today that it would reopen the search for the council seat vacated by the retirement of Phyllis Evans. Council reviewed an opinion from Ohio Public Employees Retirement Systemts (OPERS) that indicated Evans' health benefits would be jeopardized if she were reappointed and decided not to reappoint Evans to the vacant seat.
“Councilwoman Phyllis Evans has been a vital part of the leadership of Cleveland Heights for almost 20 years as a council person and, prior to that, many years as an involved member of our community. Each of us on council respect and appreciate the work that she has done helping to guide our community,” said Mayor Ed Kelley in a press release. “We all wish her and her family the best now and in the future.”
Evans resigned in June for personal reasons, then was one of 12 applicants who applied for the vacant seat in July. She had sought an opinion from OPERS to determine if she could keep the health benefits she received as a retired public servant if she were reappointed.
Of the decision to reopen the search, Kelley explained, "Many people told council members that they would have applied for the seat, but they thought the seat would go to Phyllis Evans. So, we decided to give them an opportunity."
Kelley said that anyone who has already applied for the council seat—the 11 others who applied by the July 25 deadline, plus four who submitted applications after the original deadline—would be considered.
"With Labor Day, and the start of school, we set a deadline of Sept. 10, to give people enough time to apply," said Kelley. "My guess is that we will interview maybe 3–5 candidates, in late September."
The 11 other applicants were David Bergstein, David Biel, Jessica Cohen, Jeff Coryell, David Cronin, Pleurat Dreshaj, Mike Gaynier, Robert Koonce, Keba Sylla, Robert Taylor, and Gina Weisblat. Gaynier, Coreyll and Sylla ran for Cleveland Heights City Council in 2011, and Coryell came within a few votes of winning a seat then.
The successful applicant would serve on council from the time of the appointment until Dec. 31, 2013. The seat will be up for election on Nov. 5, 2013 (the next local election year). The candidate elected at that time will fill the remaining two years of the vacated term, which expires Dec. 31, 2015.
Council has reopened the search for a replacement until 5 p.m., Monday, Sept. 10. The application is posted online at www.clevelandheights.com, and is also available by calling Judy Hayes in the city manager’s office at 216-291-3737.
Deanna Bremer Fisher
Deanna Bremer Fisher is executive director of FutureHeights and publisher of the Heights Observer.