Who is running for mayor in suburban Cleveland?

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Heading into Tuesday’s election, new leadership is a certainty in just four of the 22 county mayoral races, including in Cleveland Heights, where residents elect their first mayor in 100 years of history of the city.

The precedent setting for the new form of government in Cleveland Heights will rest with Barbara Danforth or Kahlil Seren.

The two named similar priorities, including economic development, improved housing and public safety, but differ in which experience provides a better position to achieve those goals.

Danforth, 72, is the former head of the YWCA of Greater Cleveland and a statewide nonprofit school system, legal adviser to the Department of Children and Family Services of the Cuyahoga County and Chief Prosecutor of Cleveland. She led the primary, but has since been criticized by Democrats in Cleveland Stonewall for her statements regarding LGBTQIA issues.

Seren, 42, a political adviser for Cuyahoga County Council who has served on city council since 2015, came second in the primary but received a number of new endorsements, including from US Senator Sherrod Brown.

The winner will take the reins of a city of approximately 44,000 residents, an annual budget of $ 52 million and a payroll of approximately 450 employees, as well as an annual salary of $ 115,000.

The Cleveland mayoral race features Justin Bibb and Kevin Kelley as longtime mayor Frank Jackson retires after four terms. The mayors of Parma Heights and Richmond Heights have also refused to run for another term, leaving the door open for new leaders.

Here is a breakdown of some of the other major races of mayors in Cuyahoga County.

Parma heights

The field consists of four candidates for Parma Heights, including Samuel Ehrhardt, Marie Gallo, Anthony Stavole and Danielle Zaremba. The mayor’s starting salary will be $ 68,851 in 2022.

Ehrhardt, a former East Cleveland and Cleveland police officer, ran unsuccessfully against current Mayor Michael Byrne in 2017. Byrne is not running for a fourth term and will retire at the end of this year. During this campaign, Ehrhardt pointed out that Parma Heights taxes are too high. The city currently has a 3% tax rate, according to the Regional Income Tax Agency (RITA).

Gallo is President of Parma Heights City Council, a position she has held since 2014. She is also currently the Director of Human Resources for North Olmsted. Some of Gallo’s priorities include street improvement, flood solutions, property maintenance, business partnerships, and police, fire, senior, and city protection.

Stavole has been a General Counsel since 2012 and is also the owner of Stavole & Sons Lawn Care. A graduate of St. Ignatius, Stavole grew up in Parma Heights and wanted to be the city’s mayor for a long time, he said in a previous cleveland.com article. Stavole is also chairman of the council’s finance committee and vice chairman of the police, fire and security committee.

Zaremba, legal assistant, is new to the political arena. A resident of Parma Heights, Zaremba wants to help ensure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely. She also strives to bring a good business atmosphere to the city and also wants to support the city’s police, fire department and first responders.

Richmond heights

While some Parma Heights candidates have minimal or no political experience, the candidates running for the Richmond Heights seat are not new to municipal government.

Barry Hurst was the former Ward 1 Council representative, serving on security, audit and service and recreation committees before losing to his now-mayor opponent, City Councilor Kim Thomas in 2019.

During his tenure, the board raised the Richmond Heights bond rating, brought Dollar General into the community and consistently balanced the budget, said Hurst, 65.

Kim Thomas, 57, currently sits on the council’s finance, audit, security, building and zoning committees and, during the pandemic, organized a monthly pantry. She owns Christopher Amira Studio in Cleveland and was recently appointed Chair of the Greenwood Farm Board of Directors.

The winner will oversee a number of major investments in Richmond Heights, including a new high school; the $ 250 million mixed-use residential and commercial Belle Oaks Marketplace project; and the more than 20-year lease with FlexJet allowing the private luxury jet company to make Cuyahoga County Airport its headquarters and flight operations facility.

Longevity in the office

Two other key strokes highlight longevity in function. North Olmsted Mayor Kevin Kennedy is running for an unprecedented fourth term. Kennedy was first elected in 2009, when he defeated former mayor Thomas O’Grady.

Now he is set to become the longest-serving mayor in the city’s history if re-elected. Council president Nicole Jones will challenge him and she has been in her current position for eight years. The city’s four-year term as mayor will begin on January 1, 2022, and the starting salary will be $ 111,338.

In Cuyahoga Heights, Jack Bacci, 45, has served as mayor since 2007, although this is his third term since the village extended the term of government to four years. He is the son of the late Lou Bacci, who served as mayor for almost 30 years.

Bacci comes up against a written opponent, David Domzalski, 66, a school guard who also challenged him in 2013.

Garfield Heights

The Garfield Heights run features Acting Mayor Matt Burke and former City Councilor Shayla Davis. Burke received 1,640 votes in the September primaries, while Davis received 657.

When Davis was on the board, some argued that she shouldn’t be able to serve because of her job in Cleveland, where she is an external relations specialist. She resigned from the board in April after a bout with COVID-19 that required hospitalization. Davis said in an article written by the cleveland.com editorial board that a former mayor said his eligibility was OK because his responsibilities at Cleveland were managerial.

Part of Davis’ platform includes better accountability for how services are delivered, holding quarterly meetings at Town Hall to hear from residents, and redesigning the town’s website to include more ‘information and events for departments, according to its website.

Salary increases

Aside from the mayoral races, East Cleveland and Seven Hills are working to gain voter approval for salary increases for city council members and mayors. East Cleveland wants council members to have an annual salary of $ 20,000, with the chairman of the council earning $ 25,000 and the mayor $ 65,000.

According to a 2018 State Auditor’s report, East Cleveland City Council members earn an annual salary of $ 4,500 and the chairman of the board earns $ 6,000. The mayor receives a minimum annual salary of $ 40,000.

Seven Hills aims to increase the mayor’s annual salary from $ 14,000 to $ 40,000 without medical benefits. If passed, the increase would take effect from 2023. History shows, however, that residents of Seven Hills are unlikely to approve the pay increase. Residents have voted against a pay rise twice in the past two decades, most recently in 2017, when the city attempted to raise the pay to $ 83,300 with full benefits.

Here’s who’s running for mayor in other contests in Cuyahoga County:

  • Beachwood – Holder Martin Horwitz and Justin Berns
  • Bedford – Incumbent Stan Koci and Greg Pozar
  • Brook Park – Holder Michael Gammella, Charles Kashi, Jr., and Edward Orcutt
  • Brooklyn Heights – Holder Mike Procuk, Dawn Derbin and Tom Lahiff
  • Olmsted Falls – Holder James Patrick Graven and Jennifer Jansen
  • University Heights – Incumbent Michael Brennan, Philip Atkin, Barbara Blankfeld and Ken Simmons

Nine other incumbents ran unopposed in East Cleveland, Rocky River, Bay Village, Glenwillow, Mayfield Heights, Middleburg Heights, Solon, Westlake and Woodmere.

About Ethel Partin

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