Cleveland Heights City Council Candidate Craig Cobb
Education: B.A., Miami University; J.D., Cleveland Marshall College of Law
Current Occupation: Attorney
Qualifications: I am an almost 30-year resident of Cleveland Heights with a long history of community and public service. I have a reputation for honesty and integrity. I am currently serving on Cleveland Heights City Council. My background and experience include 39 years practicing law in both the public and private sectors, including municipal government law. I am a former Municipal Court Judge and have served as an Assistant Law Director for the City of Cleveland. I have also served as a Civil Service Referee deciding cases involving municipal employees. I am past member of the State of Ohio Consumers' Counsel Governing Board and past member of the City of Cleveland Civilian Police Review Board.
Do you think our business districts are healthy and successful? If not, what would you do to change that? Please discuss specific districts, such as Noble and Severance.
All are not. I support assisting businesses through the City's Job Creation Grant Program, Commercial Loan Program, Storefront Rehabilitation Program, Microenterprise Loan Fund and Economic Development Fund. I voted to use $2.5 million of Covid Federal funds (ARPA) specifically for use in the Noble neighborhood for greater investment there. Efforts at redevelopment of Severance are hampered by Namdar, a real estate investor that specializes in buying distressed shopping malls in foreclosure to hold them as assets in their real estate portfolio versus redevelopment. A strategy (strict code enforcement, no conditional use permits, no parcel subdivisions) must be employed to pressure Namdar to work with the City on redevelopment.
What role should environmental considerations play in the city’s policies and actions?
An important one. My most immediate concern is whether the City is doing enough to educate our residents about the necessity to properly separate out recyclables with the change to automated trash collection that has a bin specifically for recyclables. Cross contamination and improper use of the bin for trash led the City of Cleveland to end its program. We just passed legislation to become a “Power a Clean Future Ohio Community” with a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the City by increasing the energy efficiency of City-owned buildings, promoting public transportation, the use of bicycles, and hybrid and electric vehicles. Our City code now allows for solar and wind power applications, and specific sustainability guidelines.
How, and in what time frame, should a vacancy on city council be filled?
I voted in favor of legislation allowing the voters to decide whether the charter should require Council to make an appointment within 45 days, or the mayor will have the authority. Some have suggested that a vacancy should always be filled by an election as opposed to an appointment. Under the current charter, that could potentially leave a vacancy unfilled for over a year. There is a reason that voting boards, commissions, and judicial panels have an odd number. That is to prevent tie votes on crucial issues which would be the case with only six members on Council. Imagine what would happen if we had a crucial piece of legislation that needed to be passed and could not because of a deadlock with no member willing to compromise.
What opportunities, if any, do you see for regional collaboration between Cleveland Heights and other local governments to provide services or facilities?
The City should take advantage of regionalization whenever it can provide cost savings by sharing employees, services or by banding together to have greater purchasing power of vehicles, equipment, and supplies. A good example of regionalization is the shared dispatcher services for police, fire and EMS shared by the now merged Heights Hillcrest CC and Chagrin Valley Dispatch. Regionalization also exists with respect to having mutual aid agreements with neighboring fire departments, which allows the nearest fire company to respond to a fire and means that essential services can be provided with less equipment and firefighters having to be on standby. Regionalization of building permit inspections should be explored in lieu of SAFEbuilt.
What are your thoughts about the responsiveness of the city’s elected officials and staff to citizens' concerns?
I agree that the City can improve its level of responsiveness to citizen complaints and inquiries. I believe this was a factor in the overwhelming vote to have an elected mayor accountable to the people. I believe that members of Council should be readily accessible to their constituents. I try to attend all City and community events. That is part of the job. Residents should know that Council does not have a staff or an office at City Hall. My home phone number is listed and my cell phone number available on the City’s website along with my email address. I do not screen phone calls and promptly return every voicemail message. I respond to all individual emails. I personally meet with any resident at a location of their choosing.