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It's election time again

I'm seeking a third term on South Euclid City Council to represent Ward 4 for another four years. I hope that voters will allow me to serve for a final term, during which time I'll be able to finish some of the projects I helped to start, get some other important initiatives going with a solid base, and help identify others in our ward who might be good, committed, candidates four years from now.

I'd prefer not to start on a negative note, but I feel strongly that you should know what kind of person is running against me for this position. It's not good. You need representation by someone who knows our ward and our city well, has experience in dealing with our city's financial, housing, safety and quality-of-life issues, and understands what Council does and how we do it. My opponent only moved into Ward 4 a little over a year ago. She showed at last night's League of Women Voters candidate forum how little she knows about what we do, what our city offers in terms of programs for residents, what we have gone through in cutting services and departments to reduce expenses already, and what we've done to save millions of dollars through our new trash/recycling and energy efficiency initiatives, and raise money in new grants.

The worst part is this: My opponent's primary claim to this position is that she would help people work through foreclosures and prevent abandonments. The truth is that she herself abandoned the house she owned in Ward 1, moved into a bank-owned house in Ward 4 that her new husband purchased last year, and they both have to go to court later this month, her for housing violations and him for violating the requirements to fix violations on the Laurelhill house or put money in escrow to do so before they could move in.

To make matters worse, she owns four multiple-dwelling properties in Cleveland, hasn't paid a penny in property tax on any of them for four, or in most cases five, years, and owes more than $40,000 in delinquent taxes, penalties, fines, and board-up or grass cutting fees on those properties. Like us, Cleveland, county services, and Cleveland schools count on property taxes to pay their expenses, and, like us, count on property owners to pay their fair share. All of this information is public, and available on the county auditor's website.

How someone with so little commitment to being a responsible property owner could even consider running for office is beyond me.

What I'll work on over the next four years

I have a few major things I want to make happen. Some are things I've been working on over the years that need to get finished. Others are new initiatives that need to get implemented.

  1. Revenue Enhancement - We need to replace state funds that have been cut, and revenue lost as home values and property taxes were reduced. We can no longer act as a bedroom community relying on property taxes and income taxes that can't support the level of services we expect and deserve. Our new retail centers will bring revenue over time, but until we see those benefits, and even after those new dollars start flowing, we have to create new income.
    So I will be chairing a committee to pull together what we know and what we expect in terms of our financial position for years to come, and to identify and develop new, and sometimes innovative, ways to bring more dollars to the city.

  2. Home-Based Businesses were a mainstay of South Euclid, especially Ward 4, in its heyday, and I want to support those people who want to work out of their homes. Our current codes are too limiting, and I believe we can find ways both to use more of their homes and garages as offices, studios and workshops, while still keeping a quiet, residential character for our neighborhoods.

  3. Recreational programming for youth and all ages in our public spaces. Since we can't afford to built a rec center, I want to work on getting programming into our ward's new park spaces to keep our residents healthy and engaged.

  4. I'd like to expand our urban agriculture opportunities, especially with a plan to plant more fruit trees and expand the roster of community gardens. This could easily tie in to expanding youth activities in our city.

  5. I want to monitor the completion of our new retail centers and library to be sure they are done in ways that best serve our citizens and manage any problems that might arise.

What have I done for you lately?

Here's a highlight reel of things I've accomplished, initiated, or supported during my time in office. There's a LOT more, but these are the biggies:

Community Development:
• After years of trying we got Cedar Center going. It's not all we'd hoped, but we still have a way to go. Meanwhile, it's a great addition to our city.
• When faced with the Oakwood development, I led the fight to make what could have been just another retail center into the first "green" center in the region, and we got a new
21-acre park, too.
• As we work with the county library on the new Green Road branch, I've pushed for them to save the trees, especially the historic giant elm, and do so in a way that allows for plenty of parking that can be hidden from the street. I've also helped the neighbors to be sure that there will be fencing to protect their properties.
• The Green Neighborhoods initiative has brought community gardens and renovated housing to our neighborhoods, plus a new park at Colony and Halsey.

Customer Service:
• I've helped countless constituents solve problems with water bills, utility issues, city services, finding programs to help with home improvement, mediated conflicts between neighbors, get financial help from the city to pay for problems we may have caused them, and been there to listen, when that's all that was needed.
• As chair of Council's Utilities committee I've helped residents throughout the city with issues regarding all kinds of utility service issues.
• I've hosted two ward meetings every year, and forums on energy, health care and other subjects our residents need to know about.

Quality of Life:
• I started the annual Big Bexley Campout to bring more families to the park and make it a more vibrant place.
• I sponsored the no-idling ordinance that's working to reduce childhood asthma.
• I made it possible for homeowners to save money on water by installing rain barrels and helped many reduce their water and sewer bills.
• I organized the first "Spruce up Day" with volunteers helping homeowners mow, rake and clean up their yards and add new landscaping, and even painted the garage for an elderly lady who needed the help.
• I helped build both the first Playground of Possibilities and the second replacement playground.
• I personally designed and painted the new art for the girls and boys bathrooms at Bexley Park so that visitors would enjoy their time with us more.
• I sponsored girls softball teams for the past few summers, giving girls an equal chance to excel at sports and learn teamwork.
• I've served on the Tree Commission since 1993, and helped to organize Arbor Day celebrations every year since then.
• I've held design forums bringing residents together to share their hopes and ideas for how to use vacant lots, what they wanted to have at new greenspaces, and how they envisioned our city's future.

For news and information about South Euclid, click on "ward 4" above.

Remember the Langerdale Retention Basin? It used to be a big cement-bottomed valley behind the Friendship Circle on Green Road, until a few years ago when we converted it to a functioning wetland and prairie habitat. This is what it looked like in late summer 2012. It's fun to watch it grow each year, starting with early spring when it looks pretty bleak, but turning greener every day until it bursts into amazing color. The big green gate at the greenspace across from Notre Dame is never locked (it's closed to keep the deer out, which of course is a losing proposition) so go enjoy the overlook deck and watch the birds.

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