Mayoral primary? Since when? When Cleveland Heights passed Issue 26 overwhelmingly two years ago, part of the amendment stipulated a special primary election in the event that more than two people are running. Three are running and you can vote for only one. The two top vote getters will run off in the November election which will determine who will actually be Mayor
Susan’s Endorsement – Melody Joy Hart
We have two talented women vying for the position, Councilwoman Melody Joy Hart and Barabara Danforth. Councilman Khalil Seren is also running and has voted in friendship with our community in the past, but his background lacks the management experience both women possess giving them a strong edge. Both women bring good things and different strengths to the table. What we should be looking for in a leader includes:
Knowledge of City: Hart and Seren trump Danforth here. While all have deep backgrounds of civic involvement, Hart has a longer history within Cleveland Heights while Danforth is just beginning to learn its inner workings and neighborhood individualities. Hart and Seren are currently on council. Danforth’s history is with the county and other institutions but not local to our city. Seren has been on council the longest and works in governmental affairs at the county level, and this is where his strengths lie making him, in my opinion better suited to council than mayor. Hart attended council meetings for years prior to running and has been engaged in the city otherwise as well.
Leadership Abilities: Both women have deep backgrounds working with people and managing organizations. Danforth as a CEO (City Prosecutor, YWCA) and Hart (Quaker Oats, Goodyear, Signet Jewlers, Fisher Price in a 35 year career) managing and setting up financial departments. Danforth shines as the clearly stronger speaker and is more charismatic, a quality that gave her an edge and won her the JVote endorsement. It is something that will come in handy promoting the city. Hart has the better reputation for collaboration and a reputation as a hard worker who does her research before forming an opinion. Both have extensive work and management experiences that qualify them.
Ability to lead us through the transition to the new form of government: There will be many changes needed to have city ordinance and charter keep in synch with the fact that we are moving from one branch of government to two. All candidates have been supportive of the idea, Seren being the biggest advocate. Hart worked with the campaign on promoting it. Hart also hosted several forums and located other cities who have undergone this change to learn from them. Hart possesses a deep understanding of the cultural and legal challenges we face. Danforth moderated the last one hosted by Hart, but likely has the bigger learning curve about this and city services altogether. Hart’s time on council gives her the greater knowledge of our departments making her more ready on day one to lead them.
Fiscal Management: With millions in dollars budgeted each year, our city needs someone who has an understanding of public money policy as well as strong financial experience. Failure in this area can potentially cost the tax payers much in fines, lost opportunities and interest charges if our credit ratings are not maintained. While Danforth’s work history is more diverse than Hart’s, Hart’s strength as a CPA is in financials having been hired to manage billions in international accounts and setting up the departments to carry that out during their business transition giving Hart the superior mastery on finance.
All have solid agendas and have reached out to our community with good ties, but it’s Hart’s grasp of issues important to us and her record on council that stand her apart. It’s worth mentioning that both women are seen as strong supporters of the police, and all candidates understand the problems that an empty Severence Mall creates. As a councilwoman, Hart has worked to bring the Taylor Tudor project to a point where some promise can now be seen from it. She has promoted the need for housing refurbishing in the DeSota Altemonte area and has reiterated the need to communicate with us, it’s neighbors, for input. Hart understands that there are subtleties our community would appreciate such as having the developer clued in on what makes a kosher kitchen appreciated by a Jewish family and has asked the developers to meet with and consider such standards. Most impressive was Hart’s understanding that some have created an atmosphere in their rhetoric when directed at our community about voucher usage that belies the city’s newly adopted theme of “All are Welcome” and Hart’s willingness to call it out. She also, in my opinion, has the stronger grasp in general of issues relevant to our neighborhood ranging from smaller ones like our need for more parking on Taylor instead of a the proposed bike lanes to larger ones like the development of the Milikin site and strengthening our business sector. Her record as a strong ally for our community and willingness to work closely with us should be appreciated. Vote Melody Hart