Yes on Issue 26 puts us in charge
Cleveland Heights is about to make history on Nov. 5. This is the first time in almost 100 years that our citizens have had the opportunity to decide how they want to be governed. This opportunity was provided by 10 ordinary citizens who formed a committee and started a petition drive by gathering 4,000 signatures (with a lot of help from volunteers) to put Issue 26 on the ballot.
Our committee of concerned citizens calls itself Citizens for an Elected Mayor (CEM); very simple, and self-explanatory. We wanted the voters of Cleveland Heights to be clear on two things:
- The current system of government is not working.
- We need a full-time elected mayor that is accountable to the voters to move our city forward.
CEM added a full-time city administrator to our charter amendment in order to ensure day-to-day professional management of the city would remain in place. We wanted the best of both worlds: an elected mayor who would provide leadership, vision and accountability, while retaining a professional city hall staff.
Our current form of government has not produced enough results. Severance sits there deteriorating decade after decade. Taylor and Noble roads are now being joined by our beloved Coventry Road with many vacant storefronts and a general lack of attention. Our property values are at less than 70 percent of their pre-2008 recession value—contrast that with Shaker Heights, South Euclid, Lakewood and University Heights [where properties] are all at, or exceeding, 100 percent of their pre-recession value. Given our proximity to University Circle, the hospitals, Case Western Reserve University and the museums, Cleveland Heights is well positioned to make progress if we have the leadership and vision to move us forward.
CEM believes Issue 26 addresses most/all of the concerns we have heard:
- The city administrator ensures the continued professional operation of city services.
- There is no additional cost; the mayor and city administrator replace the city manager and vice city manager positions ($275K+ in combined salary and benefits). Council sets the salaries of both. The salary ranges for the mayor and city administrator would be revenue neutral.
- The transition would be smooth just as it has been before, when there was a 15-month gap between the last two city managers.
- There would be no increase in partisan politics; Issue 26 requires nonpartisan elections. The mayor would run citywide, just like city council.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of Issue 26 is that it puts the voters in charge of the leadership of our city. We will have more accountability and leadership. We will all know exactly where the buck stops!
So now it’s your turn. You have to decide whether our current form of government serves our city well, or if we need to make a change in order to move our city forward. Voting Yes on Issue 26 gives our government checks and balances missing from our current form of government—all the while retaining a professional city hall staff.
We believe the choice is clear. Please vote Yes on Issue 26 and give our city a chance to move forward.
Tony Cuda lives in the Oxford neighborhood and is campaign manager of CEM.