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University Heights Mayor

Term: 4 yearsSalary: $75,500Incumbent Mayor Susan Infeld, who is running for her third term, is being challenged by Michael Dylan Brennan, a long-time city resident and lawyer whose platform includes economic redevelopment in the city. The University Heights mayor is responsible for carrying out the laws of the city and overseeing the employees and operations of city government.
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    Michael Dylan Brennan Attorney

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    Susan Infeld Mayor, City of University Heights Ohio

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Biographical Information

What do you see as an ideal relationship in terms of balance of power between the mayor and members of council?

There has been a high rate of turnover in the various administrative positions in the city. Is this an area of concern for the city? If so, how might you address it as mayor?

Historically, the mayor has also served as the safety director for University Heights. Please speak to the pros and/or cons of combining those two positions for city governance.

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

Some University Heights residents have expressed concerns about crime and abandoned properties in parts of the city. What will you do to ensure that our citizens feel safe in their neighborhoods and confident that the city is working to address their concerns?

Age 46
Education Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, J.D. 1996; Bowling Green State University, B.A., Political Science, 1993.
Current occupation Attorney and Counselor at Law, The Law Office of Michael Dylan Brennan, LLC
Qualifications for office Over twenty years legal experience. Community experience includes: FutureHeights Inc., Board of Directors, Executive Committee (Corporate Secretary), Planning & Development Committee, Heights Music Hop Committee (2016 to present); Citizens for Saybrook Park (now known as Community Park, 2013-14); Lake Erie International Model United Nations Corp. (LEIMUN), Board of Directors (2000 to present). Political and government experience includes: Polling Location Coordinator, Cuyahoga County Board of Elections; Voter Protection Team, Obama for America; Judicial Staff Attorney, Judge Kathleen Ann Sutula (2000-02), Cuyahoga Court of Common Pleas; Law Intern, U.S. Department of Justice, Environment and Natural Resources Division (1996); Congressional Intern for Rep. Eric D. Fingerhut (1994); volunteer in numerous political campaigns.
Campaign Phone (216) 245-2971
Email address brennan4uh@gmail.com
Twitter @Brennan4UH
The University Heights charter sets forth clear distinctions in responsibilities between the mayor and council. That said, the mayor and council must work together on the issues facing our city: redevelopment and investment in our commercial districts (starting with University Square and Cedar Center), address rising crime, restore our eroded tax base, and develop a real master plan for the city and with that update our zoning code to reflect and implement our common vision. To do all this, we must collaborate and build consensus to create that common vision, one that honors our history while embracing the future.

We have talented, hard-working, thoughtful people on council. As mayor, I will foster a nurturing and respectful environment for ideas, innovation, and progress, while implementing transparency in the executive and administrative functions of our city. Together, I am confident that we will restore harmony and balance to city government. Our city’s future depends on it.
Over the last eight years, University Heights has had multiple building directors, finance directors, and service directors. With so much turnover in administration, service and communication with residents has been inconsistent. This negatively affects our residents and community, especially when it takes weeks to get a building permit or schedule an inspection, or when residents’ emails and phone calls go unreturned.

Critical to attracting and retaining good people is creating a positive and rewarding workplace atmosphere, where you are a part of a culture of collaboration all to build a better city. University Heights used to be a city where these positions were so desirable, that we attracted the best who then stayed until retirement. A change in culture at city hall can restore this, and that begins at the top.
In cities our size, the combination of mayor and safety director is one of economy, and one that reinforces the philosophical concept that the police and fire departments are subordinate to the rule of law as created by civilians in the form of the elected government. In University Heights, the safety director is paid $1, as it is presumed that the mayor will undertake that position.

Unfortunately, if the safety director is not doing a good job, or more to the point, if the fire chief is not doing a good job and the safety director is not rectifying that, then it takes electing a new mayor to resolve the problem. This past June, our fire chief was the subject of a vote of no confidence, and the three-page list of safety concerns presented to the city by the fire union remains unrectified. I have been open in my intention to replace the fire chief as a first order of business as mayor and safety director. And that three-page list will be my to-do list for 2018.
The state has balanced its budget on the backs of local governments. Ohio eliminated the estate tax and reduced the Local Government Fund by 45% since 2010. Congress will likely reduce or eliminate Community Development Block Grants.

In 2006, we raised our own local income tax from 1.5% to 2.5%. Because of this, UH has been better able to weather state cuts. In recent years UH has had a budget surplus, despite state cuts.

I support reducing local taxes by increasing the local tax credit from 1.00% to 1.25%. This adjustment would bring about a half million dollars of relief to UH taxpayers, while still bringing in funds that UH needs to invest in our city to restore our eroded tax base, given the loss of businesses and rise in residential vacancies over the last eight years.

State and federal cuts make it harder to deliver the high-quality services our citizens expect and deserve. As mayor I will lobby our state and federal governments for a restoration of those funds.
Crime is up for the third year in University Heights. Knowing that a stranger has entered your car or home is a gross violation of your personal space. I do not consider property crimes to be trivial. We should mark our police vehicles for visibility instead of stealth, hire one or two more officers, and engage in community policing. Increasing patrols and police visibility will discourage such crime.

We must be more diligent acting on abandoned properties. Once declared a nuisance, they cannot sit for months without action, as happened recently on Tullamore Road. We should require banks to post a cash bond for maintenance and fix code violations as a condition to filing a foreclosure. As for rentals, annual inspections to enforce upkeep will ensure landlord accountability as well as safe properties for our residents who rent. This too will promote security and safety in our neighborhoods.

Finally, we must restore the fire department. As mayor, I will do this and more.
Age 59
Education B.A., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Current occupation Mayor, City of University Heights Ohio
Qualifications for office 8 years as Mayor; 12 years on City Council; Leadership Cleveland graduate; Led citizens committee to build new pool and playground at Purvis Park; Board member of the Ohio Municipal League, NOACA, Cuyahoga County Planning Commission; First Suburbs Consortium of Northeast Ohio Executive Committee
Campaign Phone (216) 932-4222
Email address infeldsk@aol.com
Twitter @SusanInfeld
The charter establishes the balance of power between the mayor and council. The mayor is CEO of the city, responsible for preparation of the budget, overseeing all city affairs, departments, and employees except the Clerk of Council, and the Law Director. The city council is the legislative body of the city, passes all ordinances/resolutions, approves the budget, and levies assessments. In 2008 the city council established a charter review commission which recommended changing the charter to a city manager form of governance with the city manager hired by and reporting to the city council. In 2009 that proposal was voted down by residents by a 2:1 margin. Residents voted to keep the charter-defined balance of power and I believe in upholding the mandate of our citizens.
As mayor, I have hired department directors for 7 departments. The length of time they have served ranges from 6 months – 8 years. Two were let go by me. Others left for retirement or better pay in another city. Three positions are considered “hot commodities” due to their specialized nature – service director, building commissioner, and finance director. It is not uncommon for these employees to be lured to other cities with higher salaries. This concerns me. Although I have asked the city council to increase a position’s salary or range, I have not been consistently successful in these lobbying efforts. Allocating surplus revenue for employee salary increases when necessary would help keep good employees.

Having the mayor serve as safety director in University Heights has been the historical model and one used commonly in cities of our size in Ohio. It is an efficient model and a bargain for the city. I am paid $1 to serve as the Safety Director. Having two separate people perform these jobs would increase administrative costs.
With diminished aid to cities, I seek ways to save money on large municipal purchases. I have participated in efforts with neighboring mayors, the County, and the State to save costs through joint purchases of expensive items such as vehicles, road asphalt, road salt, and gasoline. I have also participated in multi-city efforts that provide dispatch safety services, police SWAT, and economic development. These efforts allow us to provide important municipal services at a reduced cost.

The city ensures yard maintenance, whether for abandoned homes or owner-occupied homes, and will perform the work and bill the owner when necessary. The city does this to uphold the standard of appearance for a neighborhood. The building inspectors and police keep an eye on abandoned properties so that they do not become a nuisance. We also work with the County Land Bank for rehab or removal of abandoned homes. The police chief and I regularly meet with residents to discuss concerns they have about safety. The majority of crimes in our city are shoplifting. I will increase the police budget in 2018 to hire a community police officer as a resource for improved police-community cooperation and safety. With the police and residents working together, I believe that we can help residents feel safe in their homes and neighborhoods.

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