Hart describes her experience and motivation in running for CH City Council
Let me introduce myself. I am Melody Joy Hart and I am running for Cleveland Heights City Council. I am running because I am concerned about the future of my city and, particularly, its housing stock and tax base. I believe that we are all neighbors in this city and we need to work together to make every neighborhood strong, vibrant, safe and stable.
I have been attending council meetings for over 3.5 years.
I am a member of the Greater Cleveland Congregation’s (GCC) Cleveland Heights Housing Committee. That committee was concerned that the Noble neighborhood was hard hit by the foreclosure crisis, and that the city was not paying enough attention to the beautiful housing stock in Noble. So, we walked the neighborhood twice determining two things: 1) what investor-held or bank-held houses were deteriorating and had obvious code violations, and 2) who owned them.
Once we had done our homework we began to advocate for several things: 1) more and better housing inspection including a “forensic” inspector to handle properties owned by out-of-state investors, 2) a foreclosure bond ordinance to ensure bank funds were available for upkeep of foreclosed homes, 3) the rehabilitation or demolition of problem properties we found, and 4) the recognition and funding of FutureHeights (FH) as our community development corporation (CDC) with FH and other partners.
We also discovered that US Bank was the biggest “forecloser” in Noble. We began to meet with executives from the bank and to advocate for funding for Home Repair Resource Center and FH to do work in Noble.
All the items mentioned above were accomplished in three short years with a great team of volunteers and a lot of collaboration with other groups.
In those three years I have also watched this city council deal with the annual budget. I realized, as I watched the budget and forecasting process each year, that council members could benefit from my expertise as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Financial Planning & Analysis Professional, and Certified Treasury Professional. They could use someone on council who could probe the budget assumptions and ask pertinent questions.
I have been a treasury professional in large corporations for over 35 years. This includes being treasurer at a major corporation in Akron as well as working in executive positions in several major corporations, including Delphi, Arvin-Meritor, Goodyear, OMG, and Quaker Oats. I would report to CEOs, CFOs and boards of directors about the finances of the corporation. I am now a finance consultant to other major corporations. Forecasting the future is not easy, but it is important it be done with thoughtfulness and with appropriate questioning.
I am fortunate to have the endorsements of Representative Boyd and County Council Member Stephens. They know that I care about this city and am a strong advocate and a more-than-competent professional with skills needed on council.
When I say we are all neighbors, I truly believe that. That is why my husband and I are sponsoring a Haitian asylum seeker, Ansly, who has been living with us since November 2018 and is awaiting the decision on his asylum case. We were proud of our city because so many people in CH supported our efforts on Ansly’ s behalf.
I also mean we are neighbors when I am talking about issues in our city. We must work together from every neighborhood to solve problems. Only in caring about each other as neighbors and working together will we accomplish all that we hope for Cleveland Heights.
Melody Joy Hart
Melody Joy Hart is a Cleveland Heights resident who is running for CH City Council in the November 2019 election.