I began my campaign for city council with a set of ideas on how best to tackle the challenges facing our city. However I have stated many times that I do not have all the answers and invite suggestions from all of our residents as community input will be vital to the success of any actions taken to get Cleveland Heights back on the right track. Over the past several months I have had the opportunity to speak with many different people and have been challenging myself to not just come to the table with my own ideas and solutions, but to also embrace the will of the people as if I am elected I will be representing that will. In that spirit I have come to change my view on Issue 53, the 0.25% income tax increase, and now support its passage.
Last night I was privileged to speak with Gus Kious, a very old friend and colleague for whom I have the utmost respect and trust. Gus is a long time resident of Cleveland Heights and was a member of the Independent Finance Task Force that was set up by the city council to review the city’s budget. He asked me why I did not support Issue 53 even after city council has done so much to relay its importance. The truth, I told him, was that I was wary of trusting council and that I was concerned it was a self serving tax that would avoid the need for continuous improvement within the city government.
However, as we spoke it became abundantly clear that there was one consequence with not passing the measure that I could not ignore: the risk to our residents. We both agreed that there remain opportunities to continue to review the budget, to look at continuous improvement, and to ensure that all city services are being provided at the best possible efficiency. But these are long term goals, and the unfortunate fact is that our city will be unable to pay its bills unless something is done now. Because the fire and police departments are the largest portion of the budget they would have to endure significant cuts which will undeniably pose a serious risk to the safety and security of our residents. I simply cannot and will not be on the side of putting our community at risk, and have therefore embraced the need to pass Issue 53. I thank Gus for taking the time to detail his experience on the task force and helping me come to what I now believe is right decision.
To those that have supported me up to this point I hope that I have explained my decision. I invite all residents of our city to please engage me with your questions and concerns and to continue to communicate to me all of your ideas and experiences so that I can better represent you. I, personally, can not be effective and drive an initiative forward if my perspective is not aligned with the work I am doing. At the hospital it is easy for me to avoid this by ensuring that the work I am doing truly has a positive impact on patient care. And if it doesn't, then I will always push back until I am convinced that patient care is at the core of the work I am doing.
Similarly, as an elected representative, it will be my job to do what I think is best for the community, the residents, and the city of Cleveland Heights. Up until now I was concerned that a tax increase would have detrimental long term effects for the city. These concerns still exist and I will not change my goals of eliminating waste through process improvement, increasing economic development by developing a municipal broadband service, and making Cleveland Heights a leader in identifying opportunities for regionalization that can help us decrease overhead without decreasing services to our residents. These goals will drive the future of our city whether or not Issue 53 passes and I am ready to accept the challenge either way.