Power sharing is the opposite of power concentration
As a volunteer for Citizens for an Elected Mayor, I started out collecting signatures on the initiative petition and I now knock on doors—literally knock on them, because rare is the house with a working bell. I’m long retired, and while the walking is good for me, all this knocking is bad for my hands. But I keep doing it because I believe power sharing in government is a good thing, and the concentration of all political power in just one branch of government—as is currently the case in Cleveland Heights, where all power is vested in the legislative branch—is a not-so-good thing.
I have always thought of Issue 26 as a power-sharing ballot issue. Its passage would change our government so that political power is shared between the legislative branch (where all of it currently resides) and an executive branch. What keeps me banging my knuckles on doors is my belief that sharing power will result in more leadership, more accountability, and more access to government for us citizens, and that these in turn will lead us out of our current logjam of inaction.
It is surprising to hear those opposed to Issue 26 worry us with their claims that changing from our present form of government to a form that shares power between two branches is a move that will lead to terrible things—corruption, instability and decline. Their arguments against power sharing seem to be based on the belief that in the face of a mayor, council will simply collapse and all political power in the government will gravitate to the mayor. They then go on from there to list the evils that will flow from such a collapse. I find that idea of a collapse ridiculous. If I were a member of council, I think I would find it insulting.
Cleveland Heights has an informed citizenry that elects dedicated and talented people to council—people who possess the skills to meet their responsibilities and who would never hand over their authority to an executive branch. This same citizenry also has the wherewithal to elect a good mayor. Other cities do it—why can’t we?
I’m the kind of person who has always been a little slow to embrace change. I’ve often wished I were otherwise. But I’m betting on Issue 26 and will vote Yes.
The energy for change in Cleveland Heights, the thirst for it that I have run across collecting signatures and knocking on doors, is enormous. But there is also a palpable cynicism—that no matter what you do, nothing will change in this city, it will just continue to be the same-old same-old at city hall.
I hope our natural caution about embracing change does not end up justifying that cynicism. I hope we can share power in our city. To help that sharing come about is the reason I’m ruining my knuckles.
Before retirement, John Donoghue taught electrical engineering at CSU for 40 years. He has been a Cleveland Heights resident since 1979.