Danforth rises above other candidates
Three candidates want to become mayor. With early voting underway and the Sept. 14 primary nearing, to narrow the field to two for the Nov. 2 general election, it’s time to compare their records, achievements and qualifications.
The mayor must bring together the administration, council, community and outside stakeholders, building consensus along the way whenever possible. Barbara Danforth has demonstrated she can collaborate and get things done. Kahlil Seren has brought an interesting and sometimes useful perspective to city council. But I have concerns how he could work effectively with council as mayor. He has a record of offering legislation without building support, which led council to take the unprecedented action of preventing anyone from introducing legislation without the support of at least two members.
Danforth is the only candidate who has been a "buck stops here" chief executive and has shown the kind of accountability voters said they wanted when they approved Issue 26. She's supervised hundreds of employees and managed multi-million-dollar budgets as the top person in charge. Melody Hart has great financial credentials, but in advisory and treasurer roles, not as CEO. Seren has not had such direct responsibility.
The arrival of a CEO heralds major culture change in city hall. Danforth’s success as an executive coach and recruiter speaks volumes about her ability to build teams, empower others and manage for success. Neither [of the] other candidate[s] has demonstrated accomplishment in this regard. Too much is at stake during this crucial transition for our first mayor to learn on the job.
Danforth is the only candidate with a public safety background, having worked in state, county and municipal governments (including a cabinet-level position in former Cleveland mayor Mike White’s administration), placing her in the thick of municipal safety issues as well as operations. She understands the need for a professional police department and for the role of a safety director to work hand-in-hand with the police chief. She knows the status quo isn’t acceptable, that policing must be equitable, and that more must be invested in education, financial security and social services to prevent crime.
I voted for Hart and Seren for council and welcome their continued service there. Danforth not only is a good candidate for mayor, she is the best one.
Michael Bennett is a volunteer on Barbara Danforth's campaign. He is a member of the Heights Observer Advisory Committee, and serves on the Citizens for an Elected Mayor committee. The opinion expressed here is his own, not that of either committee on which he serves.