Barbara Blankfeld, candidate for University Heights City Council At Large
University Heights Age: 59
Education: Studied Communications at Notre Dame College of Ohio.
Current Occupation: Director of First Impressions, ThenDesign Architecture, Ltd.
Qualifications for Office: My life has been spent listening, learning, planning, and executing. That experience has prepared me to ‘lead through listening’. Realizing that most residents can’t attend every council meeting, my style is to engage them wherever I can, hear their concerns, and ensure they are front and center in all phases of the civic process. As an experienced manager and planner, over the years I have worked in the legal field, health care, finance, and operations as Executive Director of Temple Israel of Greater Cleveland, Beachwood’s Clerk of Council/paralegal to the law director, Coordinator for Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute Center for Lifestyle Medicine from its inception, and now working with one Cleveland’s largest architectural firms in Northern Ohio. I’m not a newcomer to caring about my community and being involved, having been actively contributing through volunteer service, including being a member of the Finance Advisory Committee, the city’s New Branding Committee, the Memorial Day Parade & Commemoration Committee, and Chairing the city's Beautiful Home Awards Committee. This administration is moving our city in new and exciting directions, directions that we deserve to be headed, just like our neighbors, while remaining solid and sustainable. It is an administration that is honest, open, friendly, and that works hard every single day to serve its residents. I love my hometown University Heights and look forward to contributing to keeping that momentum growing for the benefit of my community!
1. Top issues: I respect this administration’s focus on transparency and collaborative problem-solving in addressing the City’s existing financial and operational challenges. As a council member working to legislate and develop public policy to benefit the community that it serves, I intend to build on that foundation as we address the continued delivery of quality city services for our residents. My focus will be the continued fiscal responsibility with an eye toward seeking out creative revenue sources and the maintenance of fully staffed safety forces. We cannot neglect the importance of keeping our First Responders supplied with the training and equipment they need to protect our residents effectively. Rubbish collection is also a topic currently being explored, and I am confident that this council and administration will perform due diligence to find the best solution that is the most economical, sustainable, and ecologically sound.
2. City budget: I am confident that the city is handling its budget responsibly, despite the tremendous challenges caused by mismanagement of the city's resources in the past. This work includes the intention to embark on a five-year plan to maintain fiscal responsiblity into our future while best serving the needs of the community.
3. New residential and commercial development: Because we have limited opportunities in this regard due to our being a community encompassing only 1.189 square miles, the city should continue to be selective regarding new residential and commercial development. In this way, only the best projects move forward to benefit everyone by replacing blighted lots and increasing revenue. Additionally, everyone looks forward to the potential redevelopment of a portion of University Square with a developer determined to be a better fit. Building upon and supporting the efforts of our city's Economic Development Director will continue to be a priority in the interest of revenue building. Our continued efforts to keep storefronts looking attractive and occupied by businesses that draw in not only University Heights residents as well as shoppers and diners from our neighboring communities. Being responsibly creative is essential to building and expanding upon our tax base.
4. Regionalization efforts: Regionalization is a concept that several surrounding communities come back to for exploration time and again. Currently University Heights already extensively shares information and resources with our neighboring cities of Beachwood, Shaker Heights, Cleveland Heights, Richmond Heights, South Euclid, and Lyndhurst, as well as the Cleveland Heights-University Heights School Board, and Cleveland Heights-University Heights Library system. Through these cooperative arrangements, the city provides enhanced services involving police and fire-rescue services, economic development, building department code enforcement, housing & community development, and recreation opportunities. Additionally, the city regularly partners with other agencies such as NOACA, the Cuyahoga County Soil & Water Conservation District, and the Cleveland Metroparks, among others, for the benefit of its residents. Every proposition which might benefit the community will be thoroughly explored and vetted.
5. Rental properties: This council and administration have been working diligently to encourage all property owners to maintain their residences to an equally high standard and continue to enforce the building and housing codes. The Housing Department, in addition to managing housing complaints and nuisances, rental property registration, vacant property registration, point of sale inspections, exterior maintenance program inspections and other activities to ensure compliance with the City Ordinances also seeks out grant opportunities to assist low-income residents, including seniors on fixed incomes, to correct code violations. These are all efforts that I fully intend to support.
League of Women Voters
The 2019 Voters Guide to Candidates and Issues is published as a public service by the League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland, CH-UH and FutureHeights. The League of Women Voters is a non-partisan organization whose mission is to encourage the informed participation by citizens in government. FutureHeights is a nonprofit community development organization. Election Day is Nov. 5, 2019. Polls are open 6:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.