Berry sworn in as UH City Council member
Saundra Berry was sworn in as the newest member of University Heights City Council at a special meeting on Feb. 12, filling the seat vacated by former council member Mark Wiseman, who resigned on Jan. 13.
Since 2007, Berry has served as Clerk of Courts at the Cleveland Heights Municipal Court. She previously worked at the Ohio Department of Education as director of Cleveland scholarship and tutoring.
Berry brings auditing experience to council, as she served as an auditor for the Cleveland Municipal School District 1983–99. A former math teacher, Berry is a certified public accountant.
Berry earned a master’s in business administration from Atlanta University, and earned her bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Central State University.
A deacon at Antioch Baptist Church, Berry is the former president of the Wiley Middle School Parent Teacher Association. She has also worked for the campaign committees of U.S. Reps. Marcia Fudge and Stephanie Tubbs Jones.
UH City Charter gives council 30 days to fill a council vacancy; if it does not do so, the mayor becomes responsible for the appointment.
In the immediate wake of Wiseman’s resignation, University Heights City Council announced that it would be accepting letters of interest and resumes through Jan. 24, from residents interested in serving on council. From a total of 26 applicants, council members selected five finalists in executive session on Jan. 29, and interviewed them on Feb. 4 and 5. On Feb. 6, UH City Council announced it had appointed Berry to fill the vacant council seat.
Various UH council members and the mayor spoke at the Feb. 12 meeting, in advance of Berry's swearing in. In his remarks, Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan recognized council's role in appointing Berry.
"This was, of course, wholly council's appointment, per the charter, as it should be," said Brennan. "The only reason the mayor would make the appointment is if council was unable to decide. Even though we had 26 excellent applicants, it does say a lot that, obviously, one rose to the top, and understandably so."
Addressing Berry, Brennan added, "I'm excited that you'll be joining city council—I'd be as happy if it were my choice."
In introducing CH Municipal Court Judge J.J. Costello, to conduct the swearing in ceremony, Brennan cited the "personal and professional connection" between Costello and Berry, who work together at CH Municipal Court.
Prior to the meeting's adjournment, Brennan invited Berry to speak to those in attendance, and her fellow council members. Berry said, "I just thank all of you for having confidence in me. I really feel a part of this council—you've all been so gracious." She thanked her church, her family and friends, and the people she works with who came to the ceremony. She then made a motion to adjourn the special meeting.
Berry's appointment is for an abbreviated term of approximately two years, until the end of December 2021. If interested in continuing to serve on council, Berry will have to run for election on Nov. 2, 2021.
Wiseman resigned from UH City Council upon his appointment as a magistrate to Cleveland Municipal Court’s Housing Division.
Video of the Feb. 12 special meeting can be viewed on YouTube (www.youtube.com/watch?v=2oRNX6hJvtQ&t=81s).
Kim Sergio Inglis
Kim Sergio Inglis is editor-in-chief of the Heights Observer, and is a Cuyahoga County master gardener volunteer.