Qualifications for office
I've been here for decades, I raised by kids here, I bought my home here, I started my business here, so I know how vital this election is to our southeast neighborhoods. I have served as a Buckeye Ambassador at Burton Bell Carr, a board member of the RAC Committee at St. Luke's & dedicated 25+ years to our community. I'm the right choice for Ward 4 because as an elected Precinct Committeewoman, I am already doing the work. I have cut through the red tape of government to get my resident's homes fixed, new roofs for seniors, access to fresh food, street lights replaced, & buildings torn down. Once elected, I will provide this same level of advocacy for all of Ward 4, & work to eliminate the red tape by reforming our programs so everyone receives the city services they deserve. I'm the proven candidate to get it done. The Cuyahoga Women's Democratic Caucus (CDWC) & others have reviewed my record, and endorsed only me, Deborah Gray, for Ward 4 City Council. I now ask for your vote.
We all deserve to be safe in our communities. In order to achieve that goal, we can't talk about crime unless we also talk about what drives it. Poverty is at the root of crime, as is social inequality & income inequality. These issues show people that the system is unfair, cause people to not feel part of the community, & not care about the results of their actions. That is why high murder rates are linked with higher rates of inequality. We must address the root cause by making people, especially our youth, feel connected and part of the community. Homeownership is a big piece of this & I intend to help move us from a community of renters to a community of homeowners. In addition, I support community policing, our officers must come from our neighborhoods, look like us, & stay living in our neighborhoods so they feel connected as well. I do support the ballot initiative, Citizens for a Safer Cleveland, which will provide for strengthened citizen oversight. Power back to the people!
Lead is a big problem in our city and we must take bold action. Since lead is not only in paint, our current lead safe law does not go far enough, we must go even further. While it is mentioned that much of our water is safe from lead, that is based on sample collections taken from the homes of employees of the Cleveland Water Department among other places. We must have a testing program that tests the levels of lead in drinking water inside the homes of our babies! So I would commit to support legislation that conducts this testing in homes and schools and make it affordable to replace the lead service lines and lead pipes within people's homes. I have worked with and been trained in lead issues. Research has established that there is a link between early lead exposure and later criminal activity, especially violent crime. Therefore, we must address this issue, we can not afford to wait any longer.
A group of Clevelanders have formed Participatory Budgeting Cleveland (PB CLE) to advocate for participatory budgeting on a portion of our COVID relief dollars. I fully support this effort and would vote to make this a reality. The people of our community know what they need better than any bureaucrat or bean counter at City Hall who doesn't even live in Cleveland. Even further, I commit that I will support to have a portion of our general revenue budget also be decided directly by the people in a participatory budgeting process. I already have such a plan for Ward 4. I will create a community board, where the residents decide how ward directed resources are spent. As councilwoman, I will do everything I can to give the power back to the people.
It's time the city stop talking about equity and start making equity a priority in everything we do, especially housing. We must focus our efforts on creating homeowners who will be long time residents of our community, rather than on rentals and developer subsidies which leads to a majority renter community with a transient population. For example, rather than subsidizing an apartment projects that make the owners rich, we should be subsidizing homeownership. If someone can afford $750 in rent, than surely they can afford $300 mortgage for that same house. We just need to provide them the access to the capital to make that mortgage happen. We need our people to be vested. When we are vested, we are less susceptible to displacement. As councilwoman, I will advocate for equity, and will push legislation that reforms our current housing programs, and creates new ones so that displacement is not so prevalent.
Citizen Participation is vital to our democracy. Many of the issues in our communities happen because citizens are not civically involved, whether it's because they have been ignored or just don't understand English. Citizen participation in our government has been decimated in Ward 4 and throughout the City of Cleveland. I will change that by supporting public comment at Cleveland City Council Meetings & Committee Hearings, holding monthly public meetings in Ward 4, supporting participatory budgeting, & I will create a Ward 4 Community Board to direct how ward based funding is allocated – giving the power back to the people. When people have power they will have a reason to participate. It is also vital that we move away from just providing a language line translation service, which is problematic because of different dialects of a language & the overall hassle of having to go though a 3rd party. Our city is diverse and our city should have diverse language access for it's residents.
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Graduate of Garrett Morgan Science Academy, Member of the National Junior Honor Society, Graduate of Cleveland South High school with Honors in Sports Medicine, attended Norte Dame College.
Qualifications for office
As the president of a grassroots organization New Era Cleveland, I have organized in major cities throughout the country bringing vital resources and developing programs in the most impoverished communities. To eradicate poverty for all people has been my life’s work committing myself to a career grounded in public service. As a program developer I know the importance of innovative and proactive programs that truly focus on engaging and empowering the people. Our communities are neglected and exploited because we don’t have proper representation, leadership, and we have yet to organize to empower ourselves. I am the leader that will prove that a better tomorrow is possible and begins today.
I will Absolutely support Issue 24! The Department of Justice declared that Cleveland police has historically displayed a “pattern of excessive force, operational, and structural issues with CDP” that in itself proves that we cannot expect for the police to continue to police themselves. The failure of officer accountability didn't start when ex-officer Timothy Loehmann murdered 12 year old Tamir Rice in November 2014. The fundamentals of policing in our communities have never provided a beneficial service to the people. Impoverished communities are over policed and the residents experiencing poverty are over criminalized. In 2021, I believe its time to redesign public safety and create something new that focuses on community engagement and takes a innovative and proactive approach at preventing crime or even erasing the need for the crime to be committed in the first place. Over 57% of the City’s budget is poured into public safety and yet have yield positive results.
As Councilman, I would first support organizations like the Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition and Cleveland Lead Advocates for Safe Housing that have been boots on the ground in the community doing the work researching, educating, advocating, and creating legislation to resolve this issue. 80% or more of the city’s older homes have lead based paint. We need strategic enforcement for failure to comply to regulations for landlords that aren’t making the safety of residents priority number one as well as providing grants, incentives, education, and support for land lords. In the past five years at least 10,000 Cleveland children have been linked to lead poisoning before finishing kindergarten. Experts have linked lead poisoning to poor school performance and violence. The communities with the highest levels of lead also have some of the highest levels of violent crimes, the lowest numbers of high school graduates, the highest numbers of youth crime, and the highest concentration of poverty.
Yes I do support public input in the budgeting process, residents should have the power to make real decisions on how money is spent and participatory budgeting allows for the people to prioritize spending projects. As a councilman, I plan to have resident lead input on how funds are allocated in Ward 4 as well as throughout the city of Cleveland. The need for transparency as to how, where, when, and why funds are allocated builds trust within community and elected officials. I was engaged very early in the beginning stages of developing Cleveland’s participatory budgeting process, I hosted a virtual house party with community members and we prioritized the needs of the community and innovative solutions that if funded would address those needs. It’s disheartening to see that currently economic recovery funds are already being allocated with zero public input and minimal council input. How is increased civic engagement possible when 83% of residents in the city don’t are not empowered?
A community land trust and a Community Benefit agreement would help with preventing displacement. A CBA gives residents input in the economic development project process to ensure that its community led and we would also develop a community coalition. The coalitions responsibility would be to ensure that the community supports the project and would provide details of the projects contributions to the community. Residents should have a seat at the table and be apart of the process so that they can negotiate with developers for the benefits most important to them, shaping urban development projects. The objective of a community land trust is to balance the interest of residents & the broader community, to promote wealth building, retention of public resources, and solutions for community needs. Investments are coming into Ward 4 its our responsibility as community leaders to make sure that the lasting impact of these investments will be a impactful and positive one.
Communication, Accountability, and Transparency for the past 4 decades has been a huge issue in Ward 4. I currently host weekly community meetings at the same time and central location. Pathways to communication will include: weekly community meetings, a Ward 4 quarterly news letter, a text notification system for important updates, news, and upcoming events, www.Ward4.info for resident communication, virtual community space (chat), job postings, resources, and more, and monthly meetings with precinct committee members who will be a liaison for there precincts. The component that I plan to initiate is developing community coalitions made up of representatives from every ethnic, social, and economic class within the Ward 4 footprint. These coalitions are to ensure that every voice is heard in order to increase civic engagement, build adequate programs, and build trust within the community. Progress is not possible without inclusion, and doing things as usual is no longer an option.
Akron University, 3 1/2 years; U.S. Army Reserves, 8 years; Neighborhood Leadership Institute.
Qualifications for office
Elected Executive Board Member SEIU1199
I do support the Civilian Police Review Board. At a time when the public is demanding a different way in how we are being policed this board will give them a seat at the table, as well as it compels the department to hold officers accountable when the trust of the public has been violated. I think in order to deal the crime rate we have to deal with the cause, poverty. There is a direct correlation between impoverished communities and crime.
"incidence of violent crime is related to an array of intertwined characteristics, including poverty, segregation, and inequality; collective efficacy, disorder, trust, and institutions; job access; immigration; residential instability, foreclosures, vacancy rates, and evictions; land use and the built environment; neighborhood change; and location of housing assistance." www.huduser.gov/portal/periodicals/em/summer16/highlight2.html
We can direct the budgets to hire social workers and code enforcers this will aide officers.
I believe the City of Cleveland passed such legislation in 2019. This legislation: Requires landlords to pay for private inspections and secure lead-safe certificates for their occupied rental units starting March 1, 2021, Relies on city-issued tickets and can charge property owners with housing code violations if they do not comply, Increases rental registration fees from $35 to $70 annually, with a cap of $30,000 for multi-unit buildings,Requires additional disclosures to renters and homebuyers about whether a home has an identified lead hazard, Creates a Lead Safe Advisory Board, a Lead Safe Housing Action Board, a Lead Screening and Testing Commission and a Lead Safe Auditor to track the progress and impact of the law.- Cleveland.com "Cleveland City Council passes historic lead poisoning prevention law." July 24, 2019.
I think the City must first look at the most impoverished neighborhoods and determine what percentage of the economic recovery relief fund it will take to build up that community. This is going to have to happen with the input of community once identified. I think in order to get the community's buy-in into how this money is spent, the council should seriously explore participatory budgeting where the community determines where a portion of the funds should be allocated.
We must demand in developing neighborhoods that current residents are not harmed and displaced in any way. I think we look to Tax increment financing (TIF) to see how best we can develop a neighborhood without increasing property taxes on residents thus displacing them when they can no longer afford to pay them. I also think that we could look at a possible legislation that would cap taxes at an affordable level for those that would otherwise be pushed out of an area because of fixed income or low wages.
We also bring in partners such as Habitat for Humanity and Cleveland Housing Network that will support building up communities without gentrification and displacement.
If elected I will hold monthly ward meetings. I also would like to create a quarterly ward newsletter that focuses on issues that's happening in the ward and throughout the country that I think residents should know about.