Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the October 14, 2015, LWV and FutureHeights Candidates Night. As requested, I provided a four-minute statement instead. Thanks to Deanna Bremer Fisher, executive director of FutureHeights, who read the statement. Here’s my statement:
“Thanks to the League of Women Voters and Future Heights for organizing this gathering. I am running for a second term on Cleveland Heights City Council, because all I’ve learned during my first term positions me to make a much stronger contribution to our wonderful city in a second term. Please vote for Mary Dunbar.
“As a residential community, Cleveland Heights’ most important asset is our housing. Maintaining and improving housing is paramount. Various trends are at work in the housing market. Investors are buying homes to rent. We also have empty-nesters and retirees moving back from exurbs and beyond for a walkable community with neighborhood businesses, recreation and entertainment. They want to be close to the core city’s museums, universities, arts and healthcare institutions. And millennials are starting families here. I want to raise awareness of the attractions of living in Cleveland Heights and will support stronger marketing, especially to attract homeowners.
“Going forward, we must maintain a strong housing inspection program, combined with effective enforcement to correct housing code violations. Our strong safety and other government services attract residents, so we must keep these critical services strong.
“Major cuts in state funding to our city and the elimination of the estate tax compelled City Council to propose a 0.25% income tax increase. Vote for Issue 53 to sustain our safety forces, leaf collection, street snow plowing, grass cutting and housing inspection and enforcement.
“Your city takes a three-pronged approach to managing that includes (1) becoming more efficient, (2) collaboration with other governmental entities, and (3) economic development. We have made measurable progress on all of these. At present, we are working to finalize an agreement with Cleveland Water Division to become a direct customer, because it will save ratepayers money.
“After challenging times, Cleveland Heights is moving in the right direction on many fronts. Roads and safety are improving measurably. Substantial re-investment in housing and businesses is already under way, and I’ll support more. For example, Motorcars has invested to create a nationally leading automobile dealership, and they aren’t done. We have development opportunities at Top of the Hill, Severance, vacant lots, empty houses and commercial spaces. Hiring a development director will be a priority. To compete for development projects, we may have to consider tax abatement, case by case, but must keep that as minimal as possible. I will also work to expand government collaboration and citizen engagement, because you, our residents, are our greatest asset.
“I sincerely regret that I am unable to be present for this candidates night. However, I have already participated in many other candidate meetings as part of this election cycle, and quite a few of those meetings were videotaped. Go to my website, marydunbar.com, to find links to these videos. Also, please take home one of the cards I’ve provided tonight that lists my qualifications, accomplishments, commitment and agenda for the next four years.
“I am passionate about keeping Cleveland Heights the place to be for diverse families and residents who love living here as much as I do. We have excellent opportunities and prospects. Let’s work together to make Cleveland Heights even better. Vote for Mary Dunbar for City Council.”