University Heights Mayor Candidate Barbara Blankfeld
Facebook: Barbara Blankfeld
Education: Notre Dame College of Ohio, Communications; Ohio Paralegal Institute, Administrative Law Specialty
Current occupation: Councilmember University Heights
Qualifications: A mayor is a Servant Leader who is selfless, service-driven, and embraces a commitment to responsiveness. My rich and diverse resume of professional experience, which includes municipal government, health care, and education, provides a solid foundation for me to fulfill the requirements of mayor. I am proud of being enthusiastically involved in our city and elected by its voters to serve on the city council. My legislative voting record supports sensible spending, safety, and security, solidifying my commitment to protecting our resident's best interests. We are more than a business; we are neighbors to be listened to, protected, celebrated, and served to the best of our shared abilities.
What do you consider to be an effective working relationship between the mayor and the members of Council?
Mutual respect and a commitment to solution-seeking exemplify a highly effective working relationship between a mayor and council. The mayor should foster a genuine partnership relationship between the city's administration and city council, which is the legislative authority, to create an environment of trust and open communication, which is essential to good government. The practice of engaging others is critical to building consensus, as is being open to the opinions and ideas of the seven council members elected by their community to represent them. Dedication to a shared vision, guided by ethics and equity, can lead us to create meaningful change and dynamic growth that moves our city forward in the best possible way for all.
What are your priorities in developing a budget for the city?
A strong budget begins with genuine fiscal responsibility, respecting the city's financial boundaries, and operating within its means as our residents do. Taxpayer dollars must be spent wisely and saved prudently for identified needs and those needs that may unexpectedly arise while prioritizing vital services over non-essential items. We are fortunate to have expertly qualified Department Directors, and together must be responsible stewards of city resources while focusing on providing the highest level of services. Residents must have their views heard when significant decisions are considered, especially as we continue the Council Strategic Planning process. Everyone's viewpoint is worthy.
What opportunities do you see for regional collaboration between University Heights and other local governments to provide services or facilities?
Historically, University Heights has utilized various regional collaborations, including library, water, sewer, schools, senior services, County provided services, and emergency dispatch. However, we may be able to expand this thinking. For example, when the current administration's building department fell apart, I suggested that the city explore a shared services arrangement for some of those essential services with neighboring communities. In my conversations with other mayors, I've learned that this has been done successfully and works well. Considering new ways for our city to further benefit through such relationships can allow us to provide our residents with the highest level of service and improve fiscal responsibility.
What, if any, specific actions would you recommend the city take to maintain the quality of its housing?
University Heights no longer has city-operated Building and Housing departments. Those departments disintegrated in the last four years, forcing the current administration to outsource inspections and permit issuance responsibilities to a Colorado company (SAFEbuilt) and causing incredible frustration for homeowners. It will be a priority to bring this work back in-house. Additionally, as chair of the council Building & Housing Committee, working with the Law Director, Police and Fire Chiefs, and Economic Development Director, we finalized legislation that strengthened the code concerning rental properties. My priority was to complete this vital work begun years ago by previous city council members, including numerous public hearings. In light of the advancing age of our housing stock, safe adherence to code while considering and balancing the needs of the subject population and accordingly updating the code maintains our residential neighborhoods' appearance, safety, and security.
What role should environmental considerations play in the city’s policies and actions?
University Heights was fortunate to be designed as a tight-knit community of homes, leaving little room for commercial expansion and potential for overcrowding. The move of John Carroll University from its original location in 1935 brought additional population without too great of a negative environmental impact, even today, since the campus is finite in scope as homes surround it. Our city’s compact nature limits prospects for increased revenue from industry or commercial growth; however, it provides opportunities for focus on environmentally friendly purchasing choices and pursuit of grant funding to utilize best the limited green space we do have in our parks. Environmental considerations should always be a part of our decision making.