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VOTE411 Voter Guide

Cleveland Heights City Council {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

Term: 4 yearsSalary: $9,270Four seats are up. Four incumbents--Jason Stein, Cheryl L. Stephens (currently mayor), Mike Ungar, and Melissa Yasinow--are being challenged by Tas Nadas and a write-in candidate, Ray Douglas Wilson.Cleveland Heights City Council consists of seven members elected on an at-large basis for four-year terms. Council members choose the mayor from among themselves. The mayor also serves as president of council.
CHOOSE TWO CANDIDATES FROM BELOW TO COMPARE
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    T. Nadas Manager Clinical Quality & Productivity

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    Jason Stein City Council

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    Cheryl L. Stephens Director of Acquisition Disposition and Development

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    Mike Ungar Attorney

  • Ray Douglas Wilson (write-in candidate)

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    Melissa Yasinow Attorney, Kohrman Jackson & Krantz

Change Candidates

Biographical Information

Why do you want to serve on the Cleveland Heights City Council? What skills and and qualities do you bring to the table?

What do you see as the top two or three issues or opportunities facing Cleveland Heights? How, as a member of city council, would you work on these issues?

What can city government do to improve commercial development? What are your opinions about incentives to developers, such as tax abatement and the use of city-owned land?

How will you address safety and quality-of-life issues in Cleveland Heights neighborhoods?

With the Ohio budget in flux and the probability that the federal budget will be cut, how do you think council should address financial issues impacting city services and the quality of life for city residents?

You may upload a video to YouTube and insert a link here. Mr. Wilson asked for this option because he could not attend the Oct. 18 candidate forum.

Age 31
Education G.E.D Associates B.A. Philosophy & English M.B.A.
Current occupation Manager Clinical Quality & Productivity
Qualifications for office - 13 years of professional experience - 2 years on Citizens Advisory Committee - Active in local community & ethnic community
Campaign Phone (773) 456-4222
Email address nadas4ch@gmail.com
Twitter @tjnadas
Nothing affects the day to day life of my family and my community more than local government. My skills and qualities are the exact reason why I want to serve on city council, as I have a unique perspective and skill set. For starters I promise to make myself available to listen to and do everything I can to address the needs of our residents.

I have 13 years of experience working in the healthcare industry primarily focused on analytics, quality and process improvement, and change management. I am the son of Hungarian refugees who grew up in poverty and strived to give me a better life than they had to endure. From this upbringing I gained an appreciation for ethnic cultures and the value of diversity.

Additionally through my experience I recognize and embrace the need for constant communication and collaboration with everyone for whom and with whom I work. I have strong relationship building skills as well as a commitment to complete transparency.
The current crisis on the table is revolving around the EPA and our sewer system. Continuing to collaborate with council to ensure a comprehensive plan is developed is the first step. The next and more difficult step is to ensure that we appropriately prioritize not only to meet the needs of EPA regulations, but to continue to show our commitment to the environment by doing the right thing. Additionally I would like to see the city facilitate bringing rain barrels into more homes to help offset the rising sewer bill costs.

To protect our housing stock from decreasing value we need to hold the banks accountable for upkeep and maintenance of properties they have foreclosed upon by passing legislation requiring foreclosure bonds.

It is most important that the city continue its work towards fixing and maintaining our infrastructure (roads, utilities), while supporting our safety services, (fire, police, ems) and ensuring that all of the needs of each resident is met.
City government should be providing the vision to usher in developers who meet the needs of Cleveland Heights. The vision itself should be provided by council who has developed the vision through collaborating with as many engaged citizens as they can. Once a direction has been chosen, council should lead the city government to attract appropriate developers who will work to enhance our unique community.

If the community is open to having city owned land developed then I fully support finding the right developers for the job. I personally welcome some of the ideas for Top of the Hill development as long as there is value add to the community, it is pedestrian accessible, traffic & safety issues are addressed, and the parking needs of the business district are met. I have reservations regarding the use of tax abatement due to the potential short term impact to the schools and the long term impact to the community when the abatement expires.
First we must recognize the fact Cleveland Heights is not another cookie cutter suburb. We are a community made up of diverse individuals, we do not just simply exist in our homes ignorant of what is happening around us, but we work together within our unique neighborhoods, across 11 business districts, through religious and community organizations to continue to make our city remarkable.

The key to embracing that fact is ensuring that we are engaging our residents appropriately to address their unique needs. What one neighborhood/business district needs may not be the same as the other. As an example, engaging our refugee population requires a much different approach than engaging long time residents of the city. We must continue to use our trained and experienced city staff to work with our residents to address their needs.

Safety, fire, police, ems, currently makes up for the largest portion of the city budget, and rightfully so. If people do not feel safe in their homes/neighborhoods then they will not go out and enjoy all that Cleveland Heights has to offer. The best way to address any existing issues is to listen, prioritize, and ensure we are communicating action plans back to our residents. Transparency not only allows the residents to feel informed in the work we are doing, but it also adds an additional level of accountability as issues are addressed. All of this coupled with strong economic development activities will act as continuous improvement for our city.
Continued focus on economic development is the long term solution to this problem. Until our storefronts are no longer vacant and we haven't found replacement tenants for the big box stores in Severance, we will continue to struggle. Our newly hired economic development team in partnership with a CDC should continue to make this their primary goals.

However, my entire career I have focused on the balance between quality outcomes and productivity within an allotted budget. To achieve quality outcomes, an organization does not always need to just throw more money at a problem, and or provide lower quality service because money is tight. Working smarter, finding ways to leverage technology and process, is the way to provide the same or better quality services without needing to find additional funds. I will bring my unique perspective & skill set to council to find and implement best practices to continue to serve our residents and meet their most fundamental needs.
Candidate has not yet responded.
Age 41
Education B.A. Education
Current occupation Supervisor
Qualifications for office I was raised in Cleveland Heights and am the product of our CH-UH Public School system. Cleveland Heights City Council Member 2011 – present Cleveland Heights Vice Mayor 2016 - present Chair of Community Relations and Recreation Committee 2016 - present Chair of Planning and Development Committee 2014-2015 Chair of Public Safety and Health Committee 2012 – 2013 Chair of Administrative Services 2011 COMMUNITY RELATED ACTIVITIES – LAST FIVE YEARS: CH-UH School Lay Facilities Committee 2010 - 2011 CH-UH Library Board Trustee 2010 – 2011 Cleveland Heights Citizens Advisory Committee 2008 - 2011
Campaign Phone (440) 253-9613
Email address stein4council@gmail.com
I am a lifelong resident of Cleveland Heights. I attended Boulevard, Wiley and Heights High school (class of 1995). I am the product of Cleveland Heights. Now I am raising my children in this great City. The values of Cleveland Heights are my values. Having a home grown Cleveland Heights perspective is important on Council. Additionally, I have been active in Cleveland Heights for many years. I have a wide range of experiences and skills that include being a City Councilman, CH-UH Library Board Trustee, a member of the Cleveland Heights’ Citizens Advisory Committee, a member of the CH-UH Board of Education’s Facilities Committee, an active Democrat and other valuable experiences. I am proud of Cleveland Heights and am honored to be able to give back to this City and people that have given me so much.
I. Attract new businesses to Cleveland Heights. *I want to improve and increase marketing of our great neighborhoods and districts, *partner with the owners of Severance to re-imagine the property and *craft a strategic plan that will bring walk-ability and jobs to our commercial districts that are in the greatest need.

II. Collaborate regionally to maintain our city services and save tax payers’ money. I am proud to be a leading proponent of regional cooperation in Cleveland Heights. Joining Cleveland Water, joint dispatch and E.D.G.E are a few examples of sharing services with our neighboring municipalities to improve service, reduce the cost of these services and save tax dollars. I will continue to work regionally with our neighboring municipalities to make our city more efficient and prosperous.

III. Support new developments/redevelopments while protecting community assets such as the Coventry Playground.
New developments and redevelopment of commercial and residential areas are needed to create additional tax revenues without raising the tax burden on our residents. Incentives such as tax abatement should be considered but only authorized after a thorough review of the facts and figures to determine the value to the City and our tax payers. Mayfield, Noble and Taylor Roads are lagging behind and are in need of additional City intervention to help improve these districts. An idea I have advocated for and continue to support is expanding the small business loan within these commercial districts. I propose raising the maximum loan amounts, extending the loan pay back period and offering income tax rebates dependent on new job creation for qualified new and existing businesses.
I am proud of the work I have done to make our neighborhoods safer. I am particularly proud of initiatives such as;

1. Youth diversion program,

2. Community Policing emphasis,

3. Meet your police night every Thursday,

4. Neighborhood Watch Program,

5. Cleveland Heights Police Facebook page,

6. Bike patrols and

7. Citizens Academy

I continue to look for best practices and new ideas to improve safety and the quality of life for all of our residents.
I. Attract new businesses! We need to improve and increase marketing of our great neighborhoods and districts.

II. I am proud to be a leading proponent of regional cooperation in Cleveland Heights. Joining Cleveland Water, joint dispatch and E.D.G.E are a few examples of sharing services with our neighboring municipalities to improve service and save tax dollars. I will continue to work regionally with our neighboring municipalities to make our city more efficient and prosperous.

III. The City and schools should work together to market our schools to young professionals with school-age children.
Candidate has not yet responded.
Education Bachelor of Arts- Modern Languages and Communication Master of Public Administration
Current occupation Director of Acquisition Disposition and Development
Qualifications for office Cheryl Stephens has served on Cleveland Heights City Council since January 2010. Since being first elected to city council in 2009 and re elected in 2013, Stephens has been progressively more responsible. She served as chair of the Administrative Services Committee and the Finance Committee of Council, and co-chaired the successful Issue 53 campaign (income tax levy). In 2014 Stephens was elected Vice-Mayor of Cleveland Heights by Cleveland Heights City Council and in 2016 she was elected Mayor by City Council. Stephens is an air force brat and traveled the world courtesy of Uncle Sam. Born in Louisiana she made her first trip abroad at 18 months of age, learned how to speak English in Japan, was taught algebra in Germany and her first job after college was in Greece. She graduated from: High School in Centerville, Ohio; College with a Bachelors of Art in Collegedale, Tennessee; and university with a Masters in Public Administration in Dayton, Ohio. She moved to Cleveland for a job believing she would only be here 3 to 5 years and move on. But learned to love Greater Cleveland and has lived on both the west and east sides of Cleveland, but chose to make Cleveland Heights her home.
Campaign Phone (216) 622-5972
Email address stephenscl@sbcglobal.net
I want to serve on council because I like being an agent for positive change. The city of Cleveland Heights like other First Suburbs in greater Cleveland faces challenges that could have the city become unattractive to its residents and to the region as a place to shop, do business, and live. The city council and executive staff must maintain a continuous vigil and work with its residents to preserve its housing stock, encourage business development and manage its finances cautiously due to the changing economy of Northeast Ohio.

I believe that I have a special set of skills to bring to the City of Cleveland Heights City Council due to my Masters in Public Administration; and employment with local and state government in Ohio and with local and national non profits, in the areas of community and economic development finance. In my first year on city council I found a ways to recommend financial savings to the city staff that saved over $200,000 each year for 3 years.
The top issues facing Cleveland Heights today are Financial Stability and Development (Economic Development and Housing). As a member of Council I will (and I have in the past) work with staff to recommend ways to stabilize finances through regular reviews of financial statements, making recommendations on cost savings and/or operational savings. And supporting staff’s ideas that allow our organization to save funds or invest in project that will save us money long-term. In the areas of community and economic development I have encouraged staff to be aggressive on the exploration of concepts like citywide tax abatement with specific investment guidelines for property owners which will encourage owners to invest. I will work to facilitate investment in our business districts and commercial corridors so that community wide we can see increased property values (both commercial and residential). I will also encourage staff to focus on the Noble Road area.
The City can and has brought on staff to focus on the needs of the commercial districts. Staffing is a major factor needed to get process/projects moving forward on the ideas and recommendations. I encourage economic development that will assist the city in growing our tax base. As costs increase for everything over time it is important to work regionally and maybe even nationally to have additional development take place in the community. The Master Plan that was completed earlier this year outlines several opportunities for business development, redevelopment of Severance Mall and the attraction of redevelopment to underutilized properties in the community. It is time for staff to become more aggressive in their pursuit of businesses for the community. City council can work with staff to get businesses and development that is outside the box into the community. We should build relationships with Team NEO and Jobs Ohio so that more economic development opportunities are sent CH.
We are a Council Manager form of government we must work with the City Manager and the Police Chief and Fire Chief to evaluate the demand for additional services and our capacity to meet those needs. The city has received two grants from the Federal Government in the last eight years which have allow us to reduce some of the city’s general fund salary expenses for firefighter/Emergency Medical Technicians. That type of thinking that has the staff aggressively thinking about other funds that will help stretch local funds is what we will need to pursue in our to positively impact our capacity to provide safety services in a cost effective manner to our residents. On the issue of quality of life, it has been my experience that all things are related to quality of life issues. Some of those other areas of importance are regular inspections of the exterior of properties to encourage all of our residents to mow their grass and maintain the exterior of their homes, discussions about what type of redevelopment is necessary in our neighborhood commercial districts, and how to maintain our parks, recreational properties, and senior and youth programming. I will address these issues by working with staff and the City Manager to juggle all of these issues to the benefit of our
It is my recommendation that we look at increasing our standard sources of revenue for the city in areas of: new housing construction with some tax abatement and low interest loans as incentives to increase our real estate base and values, infill development in commercial districts and on the main streets like Cedar and Mayfield. We should work with the Board of Education, Future Heights CDC and the neighbors around the new CH-UH High School to put a created some redevelopment in and on the houses that face the High School on Cedar and Washington (an idea discussed by members of the School Board). The City Manager and Council will have to continue to be conservative on staff and expenditures because we only have one unique non tax revenue source and that is income from the Cable Franchise granted years ago to Time Warners predecessor. The cable fund have been saved and used to create an economic development fund that may used creatively to help a significant development or program.
Candidate has not yet responded.
Age 58
Education Boston University School of Law (J.D., 1984) Boston University (B.A. 1981)
Current occupation Attorney -- partner at Ulmer & Berne law firm
Qualifications for office Cleveland Heights City Council - current member Cleveland Heights Finance Committee -- current Chair Cleveland Heights Planning Commission -- Chairman for approximately 16 years Cleveland Heights Strategic Planning Committee -- Former Member Cleveland Heights Master Plan Steering Committee -- Former Member Cleveland Heights Citizens Advisory Committee -- Former Member
Campaign Phone (216) 978-8197
Email address mungar@ulmer.com
I am currently a member of City Council and I very much appreciate the opportunity to serve the citizens of Cleveland Heights, where I have been a resident for approximately 31 years. As a professional mediator, I have to work hard, study complex issues, listen carefully and then take action, and I bring these skills to the table every day as a member of Council. I am not beholden to anyone and my duties and loyalties are solely to the citizens of our community. I am good at solving problems and getting things done. In doing so, I am able to work in a collegial and collaborative way with our city staff, our citizens and other stakeholders.
I believe our primary focus needs to be on economic development and implementation of our recently developed Master Plan. Quite comprehensive in nature, it impacts many issues in our city. There is a heavy emphasis on vibrant neighborhoods (with appropriate attention to the vacant and abandoned properties issues), strong business districts, high quality infrastructure, etc. and, at the same time, the Plan respects our community’s ongoing need for safe, healthy, diverse, environmentally sustainable and vibrant neighborhoods.

I will continue to work on these issues with the same focus and intensity that I am working on them right now via implementation of our Master Plan. I would continue with sharp and unwavering attention to such implementation.
Our City Manager, Economic Development Director and Business Development Director need to continue to establish relationships and be responsive to commercial development opportunities throughout our city. Our geographic proximity makes us attractive and presents many such opportunities. We need to not only be responsive to opportunities that come our way, but we must be proactive in going out to the business community in order to generate interest in Cleveland Heights.

We have a number of exciting things happening in Cleveland Heights (e.g. Top of the Hill development) and we need to work with other community partners (e.g. a likely Community Development Corporation that will soon be formed, with Future Heights as our partner, along with other community groups and organizations) to bring the same exciting development opportunities to other areas of our city (e.g. Noble area).

Appropriate and judicious use of tax incentives can be considered, with school district input.
This is, of course, an indispensable piece of the foundation of our city. If people don’t feel safe, then they will not wish to live here, and an undesirable domino effect will follow. We cannot -- and will not -- let that happen. I will work to ensure that we will never fall behind in maintaining appropriate fire, police and EMS services throughout our city. I will support the Police Chief in her recommendations to enhance safety throughout our city. I am a stalwart supporter of multiple local events that encourage interaction between our citizens and our safety forces.
As Chair of Council’s Finance Committee, I will continue to keep a close eye on our city’s finances, working closely with our City Manager and our Finance Director in order to do so. I am in constant contact with our city’s management on these issues, and I closely and carefully monitor our spending to ensure that we deliver high quality city services to our residents. The most recent citizens’ satisfaction surveys suggest that we generally do a good job, but there is always room for improvement.

When possible, I would like to see us take even more advantage of regionalism. Case in point: we have recently created a regional dispatch center for our police and fire services, and that center is now located in Cleveland Heights. We have partnered with University Heights, South Euclid, Shaker Heights and, recently, Richmond Heights, in this effort. I am hopeful that we will see more opportunities like this, where we can save money, yet not compromise on the quality of services.
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Age 33
Education J.D.--CWRU School of Law, Magna Cum Laude and Order of the Coif; B.A.-- Mt. Holyoke College, Magna Cum Laude; Laurel School
Current occupation Councilwoman, City of Cleveland Heights; Attorney, Kohrman Jackson & Krantz
Qualifications for office I currently serve as Councilwoman for the City of Cleveland Heights. I am Chair of the City's Municipal Services Committee, Vice Chair of the Community Relations & Recreation Committee, and Member of the Finance Committee. I am also a sixth-year practicing attorney.
Campaign Phone (216) 395-4629
Email address YasinowForCouncil@gmail.com
I am currently on Cleveland Heights City Council and I hope that I may be re-elected so that I may continue to support and strengthen my community. I am a fifth-generation resident of Cleveland Heights, and this City represents the past as well as the future for me and my family. Through my four years on Council, I have learned how to work with City staff and other Council members to enable progress and reform (such as the enactment of our Budget Stabilization Fund) while facing local and regional challenges (such as cuts to the Local Government Fund). Additionally, I enjoy listening to, working with, and learning from residents to address the needs of our City.
As a member of Cleveland Heights City Council, I hope to continue to strengthen the City as it promotes fiscal sustainability and economic development. Cleveland Heights has weathered through the storm of the Great Recession, and I hope that we will be the place that new businesses and new families call home. To do this, we must protect our housing stock and encourage development and sound fiscal practices. I am proud of the work I have done so far on Council, where I serve as Chair of the Municipal Services Committee and a Member of the Finance Committee. Some of the major projects that I am most proud of, and hope to build on, include the establishment of a Budget Stabilization Fund, the development of Top of the Hill, and the execution of an Energy Savings Contract that is projected to save the City $11.5 million over the next 20 years. I intend to work with City staff and other members of Council to promote these initiatives and to seek out new opportunities for our City to grow.
City government must be open to working with developers, residents, and already-existing businesses to encourage commercial development where appropriate. When the City owns the land, there is an enormous opportunity to re-shape entire swathes of the community. In Cleveland Heights, we engaged in a lengthy RFQ process to find a developer to build Top of the Hill, which the City owns, and which will hopefully break ground in Spring/Summer 2018. Similarly, we are currently working with our community stakeholders at public forums to determine what could/should happen with the Coventry PEACE Campus, which is owned by the School Board. As for the use of incentives, such as tax abatement, I believe that they should be used strategically to encourage meaningful, long term development in cooperation with the School Board.
I strongly support our police and fire safety services in making Cleveland Heights a safe place to live. I endorsed and worked hard to help pass Issue 53 in 2015, which helped us maintain adequate fire and police staff throughout the City. Further, I support the expansion of bike patrol and security cameras in our business districts, and the creation and expansion of additional interactive events between our citizens and our safety forces. For example, we recently had our fourth annual Safety Forces Night in early August. This was our largest event and it drew in new community organizations that had never before been involved, such as Everytown for Gun Safety. Finally, I hope to listen to residents to address their safety and quality-of-life concerns by attending regular community meetings as well as Meet Your Police nights.
As Chair of Cleveland Heights’ Municipal Services Committee and a Member of our Finance Committee, I know first-hand the impact of state and federal cuts to our municipalities. Cities have to be aggressive in preserving and maintaining funding streams, open to new ideas, and willing to work together. In Cleveland Heights, we have endeavored to achieve all of these goals. For example, in 2017, we executed an Energy Savings Contract that will save the City $11.5 million over the next 20 years. Likewise, we have lobbied our state and federal representatives to preserve our funding, whether through Community Development Block Grants or maintenance of the Local Government Fund. Finally, Cleveland Heights has embraced regionalism, working with University Heights, South Euclid, Shaker Heights, and Richmond Heights to create a regional dispatch center for our police and fire services. I support all of these initiatives and hope to help Cleveland Heights address ongoing and future challenges.
Candidate has not yet responded.

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