CH can elect a mayor under current form of government
Issue 26 asks Cleveland Heights voters to choose between electing a mayor and retaining its current form of government. That doesn't need to be a choice. We could elect a mayor under our council/manager government. Why is no one talking about that? Why would we throw away the proverbial baby with the bathwater?
If I'm listening correctly, the desire in the community is for a mayor who is a strong and visible presence, who articulates the city's vision, represents the people to council and staff, champions Cleveland Heights locally and regionally, and, perhaps most importantly for a mayor elected by voters, [is] not appointed by council. But Issue 26 abolishes our whole system of government.
I think Cleveland Heights functions well. I thought so during my 12 years on city council. I was proud of Cleveland Heights. I still am. Witness the response to the recent storm. Within 24 hours most roads were passable. The apocalyptic look was gone. The city manager mobilized staff to do their jobs and they did them. That's how it should be. It worked. Under the proposed change, would the mayor or the administrator have been responsible? And what if we elected a mayor [who] was not an expert in operations and staff management, not educated in public works, human resources, finance? As it was, lines of authority were clear and the response was efficient and energetic.
But many residents feel something is lacking. We lack someone whom we have charged with being out there after the storm, hearing concerns, communicating the city's plans.
We can have that person without changing our form of government. Such a mayor would still be the seventh member of council—its president, but co-equal in power and decision-making. It would still take four people to concur to set policy, spend taxpayer's money, hire or fire the city manager. Having seven people accountable provides a high degree of security and stability. And remember that you can call or e-mail any council member and expect a response. If that's not happening, that's what the ballot box is for.
Every decision has ramifications. Ask yourself if you really want to change our form of government or if you really just want to elect the mayor. I'm voting NO on Issue 26 because I keep thinking about that baby going down the drain with the bathwater.
Nancy Dietrich is a 44-year resident of Cleveland Heights. She is a longtime supporter of the CH-UH schools, which her four grown children attended and her four grandsons now attend. She was a 12-year member of CH City Council and is currently active in the League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland.