Jeff Coryell - Cleveland Heights City Council Candidate
3316 Clarendon Road, Cleveland Hts., OH 44118 Age: 56
Education: BA Cum Laude, Carleton College; JD, New York University; MFA, Northwestern University
Occupation: Artist/small business owner
Qualifications: Assistant U.S. Attorney; Assistant Attorney General; Adjunct Professor at Cleveland State University, Cuyahoga Community College, and Youngstown State University; New Media Director for U.S. Senate Campaign.
Community: Board member, FutureHeights and Reaching Heights; Steering Committee, Sustainable Heights Network; Founder, Heights Community Garden Network; President, Cleveland Heights Democrats; Member, Central and Executive Committee, Cuyahoga County Democratic Party.
QUESTIONS and RESPONSES:
1. Improve life: Our city must grow our population and tax base by attracting new residents and businesses, particularly engaged younger residents, high tech/creative enterprises, and retailers to fill vacant storefronts. I will help modernize and improve the marketing of the Heights as a place to live and do business, including partnering with our non-profits to do so; strengthen our ties with University Circle institutions to spur community development; work with school officials on improving our public schools and publicizing our progress; facilitate establishing a business incubator; and help promote and support our arts and culture community.
2. School bond issue: I support the bond issue as the best investment we can make to improve our community and enhance our reputation as a great place to live. Our schools are too expensive to operate because they are too big and inefficient and constantly require costly repairs. Deficient electrical, heating and cooling are detrimental to education. Renovating our high school is especially essential because it is one of our most visible and frequently used public buildings.
3. New development: The city needs to seek out new development that is consistent with our community values of sustainability, authenticity, supporting business that is local, and preserving our green space and architectural heritage. I support citizen engagement in a process to develop principles to guide development. Tax abatement can be useful in spurring development but must be used sparingly in fairness to other taxpayers. I would like to see revolving loan programs to help homeowners retrofit their homes for energy efficiency and aging-in-place features, and those factors should be accentuated in requests for development proposals.
4. Revenue: The city needs to pursue more grants for particular purposes rather than relying on general funds. This requires creative thinking and intensive research to support an expanded program of applying for grants and assistance. However, there are grants that non-profits can seek that are not available to municipalities. Therefore the city should collaborate with our non-profit organizations on programs to improve the quality of life for our residents. Our tax base needs to be increased by marketing our community more effectively as an exciting place to work or start a business, and non-profits can help with this effort.
5. Housing market: The city should accelerate its program of purchasing vacant houses for repair and resale. Closecollaboration with the County Land Bank and the Home Repair Resource Center are essential. Creative uses must be developed for vacant lots, such as gardens, pocket parks, walk-throughs, and parking in high-density areas. Assistance with home improvements and energy retrofits needs to be expanded. The city should work with Heights Arts to investigate grant opportunities to help artists acquire live/work space. City officials should meet regularly with real estate professionals to assess market conditions and address issues inhibiting sales and rentals.
6. Regionalism: The most imaginative and energetic communities in shared planning, equipment, purchases, and services will come out ahead in the current environment of reduced funding. Regional collaboration is already helping Cleveland Heights provide quality services at lower cost, as with shared safety dispatch, joining the Regional Income Tax Agency, and joint bidding on road resurfacing supplies. Our city should assume a leadership role in regional planning and collaboration by seeking research grants, developing proposals, consulting with the county, and initiating talks with other municipalities. Sharing with public schools and the library must also be investigated.