Why we vote: Usually this is where I remind you of the importance of voting. This time, please forgive me, but I’m going to rant first. I have to get this off my chest. Voting is not enough, and not enough of you are voting!
Let’s be clear. Voting IS a mitzva. Which you ask? Kakasuv? I once heard how logically it could fit under Lo Saamod Al Dam Reicha. You never know when you or your neighbor will need something, and no askan can get an elected official’s attention to assist you or your neighbor if they don’t come from a voting Kehilla because politicians get their power from the people via their vote. So, my oft used line, we have no voice without your vote is true. Locally, I know homes that have been saved, extensions given instead of fines on violation repairs, contacts made, families with immigration status facing deportation – all resolved. This is not imaginary. It’s how the system works.
This election is too important to sit back. Everyone must vote. This is the first time that certain rabbonim have spoken to me about national issues. They impressed the need to get out every vote. Their concern is great. Our voting turnout must be too.
And yet, our recent voting record has been abysmally low That’s right. Too many have relied on their neighbors to be yotzei them with their vote. Pardon my stating the obvious, but it doesn’t work that way. One person, one vote. They only add up if you show up. You and not your friend. You and not your spouse. You and not your neighbor. There is no angel of the election upon whom to rely. Downtown, the Board of elections has records on exactly who voted and who did not. We just came through a period of Teshuva. In that spirit, let’s get our voting record back up to 95% or greater. We used to be there. We need to be there again. Stand for the kehilla. Each and every one. Please vote.
How to vote: In the news, you may have heard that vote by mail is less secure. Let me clarify. That does not refer to Ohio where we vote by absentee application. In some states, ballots are simply being mailed out without request to homes where someone is registered. Since voter rolls can be inaccurate and not updated, it’s possible for someone to have died or moved out of state and still be receiving a ballot at their old address. In Ohio, you have to request an absentee ballot by mailing in an application. That The BOE then checks the application against the signature on file . Again your signature on your ballot is rechecked. Multiple such checks make your vote in Ohio more secure, and we aren’t first timers at it here. Some of you may wish to drop off your ballot at the actual post office instead of a local drop or even downtown at the board of elections where there is video surveillance, however the odds of anyone working for the post office risking their job, pension and jail to grab a few ballots aren’t high. In summary, don’t let the news articles about fraud keep you from voting. As a swing state, we are even more important.
There will be no community drop off due to legal concerns about ballot harvesting. If you do vote by mail, do mail it in to be postmarked no later than the day before election or take it downtown personally by Tuesday, 7:30, election day.
If you requested a ballot that didn’t arrive on time or if you prefer to vote in person despite your request, you can still do that. When you get to the polls, they will have your name on a list of those having requested a ballot and will offer you instead of a regular ballot, a provisional ballot. When the votes are counted election night, yours will be held over until they can compare it with the mail in version and verify that they are only counting one.
Planning to vote by mail? Request your ballot early to avoid being late. Do it now. For more information about how to request a ballot, go to the J-Vote website or Cuyahoga County Board of Elections website.
Voting in person? Voting sites may have changed. Covid sympathetic policy has removed polling places from complexes housing the elderly. Please verify your new location at the BOE website.
Action Items: On a similar topic, there are those on JVote in Cleveland Heights, the Agudah and others that participate in the democratic process on committees and behind the scenes. Most volunteer many hours and deserve your support when they reach out for it. Respond to the emails. They are saving you money, time and effort taking up issues and doing the leg work. They are pulling the weight. Don’t make them drag you along kicking and screaming. Honestly, it’s frustrating to have to work so hard to provoke small action. We shouldn’t have to beg. Respond when asked. Please. It’s basic citizenship, and the asks aren’t that hard.
Milikin Petiton: There are a few asks on the table. J-Vote, Blanche Neighbors and Taylor Neighbors Association have teamed up to weigh on the disposition of the Milikin property in our backyard. I worked with Rhonda Davis Lovejoy to draft the petition. See articles by me and Chavi Jessica Cohen in Heights Observer if you want more details, and PLEASE sign the petition at J-Vote. Org. School Board responded to a small group of protesters when the took the proposition off the table despite its overwhelming support by CH City Hall. That group asserted the playground was prime. It can be moved and put into any new housing project easily. It’s only six swings and turnythingy. For that they recommended leaving all that acreage alone. It’s a quick click and a sign, but only if we can demonstrate overwhelming support for seeking bids to develop housing, single or townhouse, will the School Board put the project back on the table. The potential in future tax revenue to the city and school district will ameliorate the future need for raising so many funds directly from you later. It will bring profit to both the city and the district in property taxes. So unless you love your taxes going up, please take the moment and click on the petition. All Cleveland Heights University Heights adults. It is not a legal document. You do not have to be registered to vote. Please make sure all adults in your household also sign. Go on. Do it now. The rest of this article will still be here when you are done.
There, that was easy wasn’t it. Now let’s try another.
Defend the Community: IF you are on social media: Facebook or Next Door…IF you read Height Observer…IF you can string together a nice paragraph or two, we need you. And you probably know why. The amount of lies in print about our community is mounting and ugly. Worse, it remains unanswered. Our community has become the scape goat for certain advocates, but the facts are on our side though the same writers cannot be the only voices out there. I am not asking anyone to go online that isn’t already there. If you are, J-Vote is seeking to put together a small group that can respond when given the facts. We will support you with the facts on relevant topics. The rising number of such ugly calumnies should provoke a slew of (politely worded! Always politely worded) responses expressing outrage for the outrageousness of them. For the sake of brevity, I omitted the paragraphs filled with examples. When these accusations remain unanswered, the sinister images stand. We need you to stand up for us. Please! Contact J-Vote to volunteer!
Thank you for your patience reading the above and your support all these years. We need more people to become civically engaged. Please reach out if you are interested.
Please consider the following suggestions when you vote.
President: See comments below (R)
11th Congressional District: Marcia Fudge (D) or Laverne Gore (R). See comments below
State House 9th District: Janine Boyd (D)
Member of County Council: Cheryl Stevens (D)
State Board of Education 11th district: (1) Rocky Nealy
Justice for Supreme Court: (2) Judy French, Sharon Kennedy
Eighth District Court of Appeals: (2) Groves and Forbes
Court of Common Pleas (4) Callahan, McClelland, Jones, Realli
Issue 6 – Clarification of date for gathering signatures for candidates for Cleveland Heights Mayor: Yes
Issue 39 – 4.8 mil CHUH Tax Levy – See comments below
President President Trump and former VP Joe Biden leave much to be desired in their race to the White House. Both have significant deficits and yet both can point to laudable goals, and in many cases, past successes that our community should laud and appreciate.
However, in this extremely polarizing time and partisan environment, we need to look beyond the candidates themselves and look at where the current party momentum behind them is. In so many ways, the Democratic party, nationally, appears captive to an agenda that is at best, not hospitable to so many of our communities needs and interests. The contrasts and potential impact cannot be overstated Vote Republican.
Congressional District 11. Incumbent Marcia Fudge is a high ranking member of Congress. And yet, when it came to getting funding for anti-terrorist equipment for Jewish schools, she was supportive. Her constituency support has included helping our community resolve passport issues. While her voting record is troubling, in this district, her seat is considered and safe seat. She is due thanks for her support of our issue when needed. For that reason, and because we want someone in office who will take our calls and look at us favorably for the next few years, it should be simple answer that our vote should go to Marcia Fudge. These are compelling reasons.
That said, her challenger, Laverne Gore, is another Black woman singing our song on the Republican side of the aisle. She supports law and order. She supports Ed Choice, and economic development and has plans to combat the high illiteracy rates in poorer communities. It is believed that there is a Black turn, slight but perhaps enough, that is supporting President Trump that could push more votes in her direction. In 2016, Trump challenged the Black community to vote for him since they had nothing to lose. There was a slight nudge in the R column, but since, many have been pleased with his results in economy and education and see the Democrats as providing them with more of the same that hasn’t helped and don’t appreciate the race baiting.
This seat has been solidly Democrat since 1983 and held by a Black woman since 1999 making this challenge by another Black woman who is Republican fascinating. Further, Marcia Fudge is taking the race for granted and has hardly bothered to campaign here, following her pattern of not spending much time in Ohio or having much constituency support. Laverne Gore, by contrast, is not only working hard but has name recognition from her popular radio hour. Gore’s background in public health, a boon these days, and all around makes and interesting alternative.
Unfortunately, if you got the impression she might win, the answer is unlikely. The likely outcome is that she will get closer than any other republican has in any county wide race since the 80’s but not actually overtake Marcia Fudge. I have therefore not taken an opinion on what the community should do on this race when my heart is with Laverne Gore, but my head says it’s still not the smart vote. No Recommendation
Janine Boyd and Cheryl Stephens both have solidly supported our community when called upon, have a relationship with our activists and deserve our support. They know us. We know them. Please join me in voting for them for their respective offices.:
Issue 6: Cleveland Heights Charter Amendment. Last year we passed a charter amendment creating the ability to elect our own Mayor, beginning with the 2021 November election. For that to happen, there are several transition steps that Citizens for an Elected Mayor Transition Subcommittee (full disclosure, I’m on it) felt needed to happen. City council has already set the salary for Mayor, so that potential candidates can make an educated choice in deciding to run. The amendment also calls for the Mayor to appoint a City Administrator whose salary range needs to be set. There are also city ordinances that apply to the City Manager currently whose position will end when the Mayor is instated. Those ordinances should be reviewed by the legal department and flagged. The changes will be made to be consistent with the charter amendment. On some of these, there is latitude to give the power to the Mayor or keep it with Council, so council will be busy preparing prior to the transition.
An informative forum sponsored by Citizens for an Elected Mayor took place last week and will be available on line. It covered what a Mayor does and their relationship with Council and with a wonderful panel of local Mayors. Another is being scheduled to cover topics specific to the needs of Cleveland Heights and what issues will need to addressed. This too is part of the transition, and I’m just updating you what’s happening. So what is Issue 6?
The process of electing a Mayor begins with the candidate collecting signatures. If there are more than two candidates, then there will be a September special election primary and the top two vote getters would run off against one another in the general November election. Our group discovered a small problem with the original amendment wording and brought it to Council’s attention. It calls for petition signatures to be gathered a certain number of days ahead of “the election”. It’s unclear which election is intended – the primary or general election. Issue 6 is supposed to be the clarification. It is important that we get this done ahead of the first election to avoid confusion for mayoral candidates. When Citizens for an Elected Mayor brought this to council’s attention, they acted quickly to put it on the ballot.
Unfortunately, in an attempt to streamline the process, the wording sent in for the ballot by city staff also included the city council positions, but there are no primaries for council. Council candidates run all in November and the top 3 or 4 vote getters take the open seats. This inconsistency may have to be fixed later. To be fair to council, it should be noted that this problematic wording was not what council passed but a “fix” that came after by well meaning staff who sent the wording to the Board of Elections. So while this confuses the council race, it fixes the mayoral one and should be voted in even with the knowledge that we may have to vote again to fix the fix. Vote Yes on Issue 6.
Issue 69. CHUH School Levy increasing taxes by 4.8 mil for two years before another levy. There are pros and cons to this issue. It is worth noting that the electorate voted recently against a 7.9 mil levy that would have been good for 3 years. 4.8 for 2 years is almost the same thing. I am making to firm recommendation on this like I didn’t last time. For more information on both sides of the issue without my rewriting it all out, go to Jvote.com and click on each button for the yes and no campaigns. While you are there, please sign the petition asking the Board of Education to put back on the table the proposals or development of Millikin they recently took off the table. Additionally, see my article and Chavi Jessica Cohen’s article in the Heights Observer about the use of Millikin to produce income for the district. In response to questions about what level housing might end up in our backyard, the minimum of $350,000 in property values assures the district of real profit.
Also go to Heights Observer and see the letter by Tony Cuda (I’m one of the 18 signors, some are pro levy some anti) calling for adjusting our medical insurance package to something more in line with our neighboring cities. Currently, we are paying 60% more. He illustrates three ways it needs to be brought in line and the savings would be about $7 million per year.
Additional pros and cons to consider:
PRO – State funding changes have impacted the amounts coming in to the district to the detriment of the budget. Vote yes if you feel that it should be made up from the local tax base. The Board of Ed has been tougher on the Union’s demands than in the past. It is a first time, and a strike is not off the table as a result. Vote yes if you feel that supporting more income to the district will benefit our neighboring students and if you feel that supporting the board for its strong stance will empower them to continue to be fiscally responsible.
CON – Perhaps it won’t. Recently, the BOE voted not to continue negotiating with the Union holding firm on its toughest offer yet responding to the letter by Cuda mentioned above. That offer, however will only result in about 2 million in savings tops. That’s not enough to even promise the levy will last longer. After the levy, if it passes, the Unions will likely argue that the new flush budget means support for continued high benefits. Failing the levy will send the sincere message that, no matter how much we love our teachers, we cannot afford to continue paying so much more than the surrounding districts. We are already at the top of the tax rates for Ohio. In July, Cleveland Heights reported 20% unemployment. Times are tough. Some may feel that the Board should be exploring this option and developing Milikin into a tax producing property (see articles on that mentioned above) before coming back to a beleaguered constituency.
Higher taxes suppress housing values and sales according to local realtors, and hurt poor families, some of whom will lose their homes. Some of those poor have young school age children. Others are elderly on fixed incomes. We already support the district by paying the highest taxes in the state. Vote no if you feel the increase is unaffordable or counterproductive to the city.
Related Action Item Repeat
If you haven’t yet done so and no matter how you vote on the levy, please go now to sign the petition at JVote.org to support development at the Milikin site. And please contact JVote to volunteer.