Cleveland State University, Bachelor of Arts, Political Science, 1982
Harvard Kennedy School, Executive Education, Genesee Institute’s Community Land Reform, August 2009
Qualifications for office
Experience and Leadership Matter. I feel I am the most experienced, knowledgeable, and respected candidate that can carry a positive agenda forward by working with my fellow colleagues as well as the Administration and other governmental bodies. Being a lifelong resident of Ward 12, with experience in the private sector as a auditor in commercial finance, then as the Executive of Director of Slavic Village Development for 17 years, and 16 years of experience as a legislator, I want to continue to be a strong advocate for our residents, businesses, social and civic organizations, and to continue to be a respected and effective Legislator serving all of the ward, east to west.
There are portions of the proposal from the “Citizens for a Safer Cleveland” I do support and would encourage our administration to follow up items such as additional civilian oversight and accountability. I do not support the overall charter amendment as it is written due to some serious issues in implementation such as hiring and firing protocols, and Board Accountability. The City has a Community Police Review Board and with strong Mayoral leadership it can become an effective tool.
This year Cleveland City, Council and the Administration, have approved an additional 187 new officers to be brought on board to improve our staffing plans. There are 34 new recruits that are just graduating, a new class of 63 recruits that have just started, a proposed lateral class of 20 and a proposed class of 70 new recruits to start this fall. These additional officers this year will go a long way in shoring up our police force to provide improved staffing levels to serve our residents.
I fully support the continuation and expansion of regulations and policies that would help alleviate the scourge of lead poisoning in Cleveland and throughout the County. Testing and remediation should be done not only in housing but also public facilities.
I am proud to serve as Chairman of the Development, Planning and Sustainability Committee at Cleveland City Council and as Chairman of the Cuyahoga County Landbank. During my chairmanships we have eliminated thousands of toxic and environmentally hazardous properties through demolition. We have also repurposed (renovated and built new) thousands of homes providing (lead) safe and affordable housing.
Cleveland City Council has already passed ordinance 747-2019 which is outlined in a released FAQ sheet providing for specific regulations: https://cityofcleveland.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=3971384&GUID=55AA3B1D-224B-41FD-B228-FC528D10269C&Options=ID%7CText%7C&Search=lead
I absolutely support public input regarding the use of Federal Funding and I have received public input every year I have served as Chairman of the Development Planning and Sustainability Committee when allocating, on average, $30 million each year of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding. The City has hosted CDBG Public Hearings and every meeting was publicly noticed and advertised.
Cleveland City Council passed Ordinance 303-2021 authorizing the Director of Finance to apply for ARPA Funding from the U.S. Department of Treasury. Council also required that any funds expended would require additional legislation and Council approval. It is important to get community input on the use of funds, but it also must be recognized that these funds are not a “gift” but a way for the city to backfill revenues that were lost during the pandemic to help stabilize our government and stabilize our economy as a priority along with providing additional services and community needs.
I agree the City should continue to monitor and address if displacement occurs due to gentrification or from significant development and growth, especially in communities of color. Furthermore, the City should continue to support and encourage development of affordable housing as well as put in protections to preserve affordable housing. This includes promoting protections from the State and County against significantly increasing taxes in high end growth neighborhoods which may cause hardships. State legislation such as "Longtime Owner Occupants Program (LOOP) are one of the key recommendations to help stabilize our neighborhoods.
The City of Cleveland’s office of Community Development, with the support of Cleveland City Council, recently commissioned a study to review several housing policies with a focus on City subsidies such as tax abatement to include research on displacement and gentrification. (link to study https://www.clevelandohio.gov/node/165125)
As the councilperson in Ward 12 I continue working hard every day to serve and represent my constituents. To assure I'm representing all the issues and concerns of the broader community, I regularly attend; block club meetings, community events, civic, social, and CDC meetings as well as cultural activities to meet with constituents and continue to hear their issues to gather information about their needs and concerns. Attending and hosting these public meetings and receiving “Public Comment” on a regular basis is an important part of communicating with my constituents and regular newsletters.
The City of Cleveland is committed to providing inclusive and welcoming service to all residents. As part of that commitment to inclusion, the city will ensure meaningful access to resources, services, and engagement regardless of language. Cleveland City Council has a Language Access Plan (attached link: https://www.clevelandohio.gov/CityofCleveland/Home/Government/LanguageAccessPlan)
Hawken School '07
University of Chicago '11
Stanford Law School '14
Qualifications for office
Counsel & Program Manager, Student Borrower Protection Center
Attorney, Maurer Law LLC
Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Society of Cleveland
Federal Law Clerk, Judge James Gwin
Public safety and police accountability are not mutually exclusive tradeoffs. Instead they are deeply and profoundly intertwined. That’s why I was an early and enthusiastic public supporter of the Citizens for a Safer Cleveland ballot measure.
Public safety is a top issue for Clevelanders. I hear it all the time as I talk to my neighbors in Ward 12: we don’t feel like our neighborhoods are moving in the right direction. Right now, Cleveland spends a third of its budget on policing. And, simply put, we are not getting what we are paying for. The current method of policing is not bringing safety & justice to our neighborhoods. In any other context, if a city was spending so much of its money on a service that wasn’t working, it would reconsider what it’s doing. We need to do the same thing.
That’s why, on council, I would make sure that we are investing more of the public safety budget in other data-driven methods to lower crime rates and increase safety & justice in our city.
I’m uniquely well positioned to provide leadership on Council on the issue of lead poisoning. Much of my career has been focused on eradicating lead poisoning from my work on lead safe housing at the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland to my time as counsel to Cleveland Lead Advocates for Safe Housing (CLASH).
Here’s an interview with me on ideastream concerning CLASH’s efforts to secure lead safe housing legislation in 2019: https://www.ideastream.org/news/cleveland-advocates-submit-petitions-to-prevent-lead-poisoning-in-rentals.
Cleveland has lead poisoning rates 3x higher than in Flint, Michigan. I was a lawyer for a community coalition that helped push City Hall to pass ground-breaking legislation that protects our city’s children from lead poisoning. The implementation of this legislation is starting this year. I am well positioned to oversee that implementation and make sure the law fulfills its original promise of testing rental homes for lead before children are poisoned.
This is one of the critical questions facing Cleveland and Ward 12 in particular. The impact of COVID on my community is palpable from Slavic Village to Old Brooklyn, Brooklyn Centre, and Tremont.
I have a clear eyed understanding of the enormity of the challenges facing my community. I also understand the possibility of transformative change with the more than $500 million in American Rescue Plan funds coming to Cleveland. But this opportunity could be squandered if we fail to prioritize the health and wellbeing of residents and recognize that the work ahead must acknowledge and address our history of racial inequality.
That's why I support a particpatory budgeting program and have enthusiastically signed on to the demand that $30.8 million of the $511 be set aside for residents to decide. I also support the money being used for once-in-a-generation infrastructure improvements like municipal broadband that have the chance to bridge divides in our city.
Displacement on the near West Side has become a significant challenge. Undoubtedly, this is largely connected to the heavy reliance on tax abatements to increase housing stock. The use of abatements was analysed in the recent “Cleveland Tax Abatement Study Findings and Recommendations” report. The research for this report was conducted from August 2019 to January 2020. I participated in one of the resident feedback sessions that the report authors conducted.
I believe that one important (too often ignored tool) is for the affordable housing system to purchase existing apartment buildings that are currently affordable to ensure they remain affordable moving forward rather than an overreliance on building new units. Additionally, beyond housing displacement, longtime neighborhood small businesses can struggle to survive in gentrifying neighborhoods. When these small businesses are forced to move or close, the vitality and diversity of the community is impacted.
I appreciate this question. From my perspective this is a really multidimensional challenge. That is, members of Council need to directly engage residents and effectively both distribute information and solicit feedback across the entirety of the Ward. There is no substitute for in-person engagement but we must also develop tools that make information readily accessible to residents. I look forward to implementing best practices in other cities to make sure we are reaching Clevelanders across the city.
Additionally, I believe that implicit in this question is how we best make our governing institutions more small “d” democratic and engage in the foundational work of democracy building. This work necessitates, in my view, quickly implementing a public comment period at Council and committee meetings and a participatory budgeting process.