CH City Council receives 22 applications for Seren's seat
With Kahlil Seren, a Cleveland Heights City Council member, set to become the city's mayor in January, his council seat will become vacant upon his resignation, which was expected to be tendered on Dec. 31.
On Nov. 29, a special meeting of the Cleveland Heights Council Committee of the Whole brought together some current council members, as well as those who will begin serving on council in January, to discuss “vacancy-filling procedures in anticipation of vacancy resulting from Kahlil Seren’s election as [m]ayor.”
Subsequent to the meeting, the city announced that council would accept applications from residents interested in being considered for the council vacancy.
The deadline to apply was Dec. 17, and there were 22 applicants. Since the January issue of the Heights Observer went to press, the applicants' names and applications have been posted on the city's website. Because one of the applicants dropped out, there are 21, not 22, names and applications posted online.
At the Nov. 29 meeting, the city’s law director, Bill Hanna, explained, and answered questions related to, the new charter amendment which, for the first time, establishes a timetable to fill a council vacancy.
According to the charter amendment (Issue 31), which voters approved in the November election, city council members will have 45 days in which to fill a council vacancy, from the date the vacancy occurs. That date will be the date of Seren's resignation. If council fails to fill the vacancy within 45 days, by a majority vote, the mayor will then have 10 days in which to fill the vacancy.
The amendment also stipulates that, “for any vacancy in Council not occurring in the year that the regular election for that office is scheduled, an election for the unexpired term shall be held at the next general election occurring more than one hundred and twenty (120) days after the date of the vacancy.”
Seren's unexpired term, to which a new council member will be appointed, ends on Dec. 31, 2023. The seat will be on the ballot in the November 2022 general election; whomever wins the seat in that election, whether it is the appointee or someone else, will then serve out the remainder of the unexpired term. The seat will be on the ballot again in November 2023.
In the Nov. 29 meeting, the current and future council members discussed a basic timetable and process for appointing the new council member, and strategized on how to get through the 45 days efficiently.
On Jan. 3, the new CH City Council members will be sworn in. The next day, Jan. 4, council plans to meet in executive session, to narrow down the applicants, and discuss next steps in the process of filling the council vacancy.
According to Tony Cuda, who will take his seat on council on Jan. 3, those applicants who move forward will then be interviewed by the Heights Chapter of the League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland. Council members will then review those videos, further narrow down the applicants, and schedule interviews with those they choose.
On Nov. 29, those current and future council members who attended the meeting also discussed qualities they would like to see in an applicant for the seat. These include: someone with a history of collaboration, capable of working with others, and active in the community; someone with a sense of public service, with maturity and good judgment; someone who can bring a unique perspective to council.
Video of the Nov. 29 meeting can be viewed at www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvcXrLwsi7g.
Editor's note: This article was updated on Jan. 3, 2022.
Kim Sergio Inglis
Kim Sergio Inglis is editor-in-chief of the Heights Observer, and is a Cuyahoga County master gardener volunteer.