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VOTE411 Voter Guide

Beachwood City Council {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

Term: 4 yearsSalary: $24,670Incumbents Alec Isaacson, Melvin Jacobs, and James Pasch are vying with newcomers Mike Burkons, Gail McShepard, and Eric Synenberg for three seats on council.
CHOOSE TWO CANDIDATES FROM BELOW TO COMPARE
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    Mike Burkons Business Owner

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    Alec Isaacson Technology Consultant

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    Melvin Jacobs Teacher (Retired)

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    Gail McShepard Educator

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    James Pasch Attorney

  • Candidate picture

    Eric K. Synenberg Attorney

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Biographical Information

Why are you running (or running again) for mayor or a seat on City Council?

What do you hope to accomplish while you're mayor or on City Council--for your ward or for your whole city?

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing your community? And, if applicable, your ward?

Age 42
Education BA at Connecticut College '98 Cleveland Marshall College of Law '04
Current occupation Business Owner
Qualifications for office First time running for office but has been a vocal advocate for the last four years questioning many of the decisions regarding the management of the City's finances.
Campaign Phone (216) 832-6771
Email address Mike@BurkonsforBeachwood.com
I believe our elected officials’ primary responsibility is to ensure that the city is in a financial position to provide the high level of services we enjoy. These services and low taxes are two of the many things that make Beachwood a wonderful community to live. However, these things are only possible if the city’s finances are managed well. ​ ​I decided to run for Beachwood City Council because I believe we can and must do better. ​ Council is reluctant to acknowledge and address that the recently release audit by the State Auditor showed that last year the city ran its first deficit ($922,000) since 2010,. Do you remember 2010, when we were told that if we didn’t pass the 33 percent income tax increase, the city would be forced to make cuts to the quality of services residents expect and value? I am running as I see us on that same path as the City's Finance Director is projecting the City to spend $21.6m more than it collects in 2017 and 2018 ​ Total spending across all funds has increased from $36 million in 2013 to $46.5 million in 2016 and is projected to increase to $52 million for 2017. General fund spending during that period increased from $31.8 million to $37.2 million last year.

Nothing can place the services residents value and expect in jeopardy more than irresponsible spending and poorly managed finances. If we don't address this issue, we will be in the same position as 2010 where resident have to choose between a tax increase or a cut in services.
Beachwood is a great City that provides great services, but we are not the only City that can make this claim but other cities that also provide a high level of services have been able to do this much more efficiently.

Like Beachwood, Solon also provides excellent senior services and recreation offerings. Solon has twice as many residents and people working at Solon businesses, three times as many houses from which to pick up garbage, and 200 miles of roads that need to be plowed in the winter (compared to Beachwood’s 46 miles). However, in 2016, Solon spent less from its general fund than Beachwood to provide these services to more people in a larger area.

The main thing I hope to accomplish is to get our City leaders to realize the way we are spending money has put us on the path we were on back in 2010 that forced residents to choose between a tax increase or a cut in services. Then, instead of cutting spending by cutting services, look to see how other cities with excellent services have been able to provide these services much more efficiently and learn from them how to accomplish this.
In 2010 residents were told that if they didn't pass the tax increase, services would be cut or we would burn through $31m in reserves by 2014. As of September 30, 2017 the City had an unencumbered balance of $34,467,843.17 and we are projecting to spend $21 million more than we bring in over the next few years.

The City has listed a number of capital projects they want to accomplish that have a total cost of over $25 million dollars. However, as of September 30, 2017, the City only has an unencumbered balance of $1.3 million in the Capital Improvement Fund to pay for these projects. The reality is that because we overspent my millions on our $10m service garage that is now half empty and we are committed to spend over $13 million on a back up fire station (when other cities spend $4-$5 million), we now don't have money to pay for these projects the City and residents would like to see accomplished.

Things such as better lighting on side streets, especially in walking neighborhoods near the Shuls, and sidewalks on streets that currently don't have them are not just capital projects but safety projects. However, because we overspent on the previous capital projects listed above, we have $1.3 million to spend on the $25 million of capital projects the City wants to accomplish in the upcoming years.

If we don't start managing our finances and spending better, we are on the same path we were on back in 2010 putting the services we all value and expect in Jeopardy.
Age 50
Education Miami University, Oxford, OH - Physics
Current occupation Technology Consultant
Qualifications for office Member of Beachwood City Council: 2014-17 Finance Committee (Member 2014 – 15, Chairman 2016 – 17) Recreation and Community Services Commitee (Chairman 2014 – 17) Safety and Public Health Committee (Member 2014 – 17) Public Works Committee (Member 2014 – 17) Intergovernmental Relations Committee (Chairman 2014 – 17, Member 2016 – 17) Audit Committee (Member 2014 – 15) Member, Beachwood Schools Foundation Board Chairman, Beachwood Convention and Visitor's Bureau Board
Campaign Phone (216) 291-2797
Email address alec@positivelybeachwood.com
I am running again because I have very much enjoyed serving Beachwood and because there is more work to be done.

We have a strong city, with top-notch city services, a vibrant business community, and excellent schools. I will continue to strengthen that “golden triangle” to keep Beachwood growing, vital, and competitive. I’m focused on our whole city and want to keep building Beachwood up from the strong foundation that has been passed down to us.
If I am re-elected, I will focus on three major items:

Economic Development - I want to be sure our income stream is diversified and stable so we can continue to offer great city services and a low tax rate. I’ll do this by working with my colleagues on city council and the administration to complete, carefully review, and implement the city’s master plan. There are parts of our business district that are ripe for re-development and the city should plant the seeds to make that happen.

Efficiency and Fiscal Responsibility - I will keep asking the tough questions about our planning, projects and funding so we spend our resources wisely.

Community - I will ensure that we maintain Beachwood's essential character as an attractive community, known for our schools and excellent services. I want our neighborhoods to be more livable, with sidewalks, streetlights, and community broadband internet. I also want to craft a regional solution to address community concerns about our deer population.
What I see is that we’re not planning well – we’re fixing things as they break, not looking to the future.

For example, first we needed a new fire station and then we needed a new emergency dispatch center. Until I pressed hard, fire and dispatch were treated as two separate projects. When they were combined, we found hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings.

I wanted to take a further step and create an overall safety plan that looked fire, dispatch, and the police, to position Beachwood for the future, taking into account factors such as regionalization and growth.

Our community’s finances are sound. Our challenge is that we have lots of projects all vying for the same pot of money. Are we spending money faster than we earn it? Right now, yes, but what we’re doing is spending some of our savings on projects - such as our new 911 dispatch center. This is no different from you or I putting money away each month so we can buy a big-ticket item in the future.

Planning for the future is the key to success now. I’ve been pushing that for the past 4 years, and that will be my priority for the next 4.
Age 71
Education The Ohio State University, BS - Finance. Cleveland State University, Post-Graduate - Education.
Current occupation Retired
Qualifications for office 20 years of service on Beachwood City Council, 2 Terms President. Chairman - Economic Development Committee, Building and Grounds Committee. Past member - Planning and Zoning Committee, Safety and Public Health Committee (chairman). Past president, Fraternal Order of Police Association (FOPA).
Campaign Phone (216) 389-3577
Email address meljacobs@roadrunner.com
Experience and leadership count. I have served on City Council for 20 years with two terms as president. My commitment is to the Beachwood of today and tomorrow. I will continue to work in partnership with our schools and our businesses toward growth and service to our community.
I will continue to work to increase our police and fire safety manpower to best serve the citizens of our community. As chairman of the Economic Development Committee, I will continue to strive to help keep taxes low and our business community strong. I will also continue my commitment to expansion of senior services such as trash pickup assistance.
Traffic continues to be a challenge for our community, especially with neighboring retail growth. I will continue to work on road expansion and the installation of streetlights on side roads. My continuing work on the Economic Development Committee will focus on attracting new businesses to Beachwood and working in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce to ensure our community’s strength and viability. I will also continue to partner with our school district to ensure our ongoing commitment to state-of-the-art lifelong learning.
Education B.A. - Interdisciplinary Arts in English, Expository Writing and Education M.S. - Special Education
Current occupation Stay at home Mom
Qualifications for office Experienced Leader. Parent. Former Teacher. Strong communicator and good listener. Active Community Volunteer and Non Profit Board Member.
Campaign Phone (216) 554-1156
Email address gmcshepard@yahoo.com
I'm running for Council because I want to give back to the community, bring about change and ensure diversity on the Beachwood City Council. I want to strengthen communication between residents and Council and be a good steward of the finances of the City. I think that in order to be a productive member of society it is important to provide meaningful service, which the City Council post would allow me to provide. Finally, as Beachwood continues to attract new businesses and residents, I would like to help to keep the city in touch with the changing needs of the community's key stakeholders.
I hope to accomplish the feat of bringing all residents together to make collective decisions to move the city forward. I would hope to improve relations between City Council and the Mayor's office and more transparency to fiscal matters and decisions that affect the city's budget. I would also hope to see more diversity strategies employed in all facets of the city, including the administration and the school district. Another goal would be to increase the number of street lights where needed for safety purposes, and to make sure that sidewalks are maintained and that other amenities that our families and seniors enjoy are enhanced as needed.
I think the biggest challenges are keeping residential neighborhoods intact while also continuing high levels of commerce in the city to help maintain our low tax base. We have to balance the challenge of attracting young families to the city to keep our schools vibrant while also celebrating our position as an "aging in place" community. I think another challenge is to make sure that traffic continues to flow smoothly throughout our city as new developments and growth takes place. We also need to make sure that the City of Beachwood's finances are regularly evaluated to maintain good accounting and financial management practices that keep the city fiscally solvent while avoiding over-spending.
Age 32
Education B.A. in Political Science from the University of Vermont J.D. from Case Western Reserve University School of Law
Current occupation Assistant Dean of Development and Alumni Relations at CWRU School of Law
Qualifications for office Chair of the Legal Committee and Council's Representative on the Planning and Zoning Commission. Worked for two U.S. Senators, the late Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT). Worked at a litigator and now as an Assistant Dean at CWRU School of Law.
Campaign Phone (216) 630-9671
Email address Pasch.James@gmail.com
Twitter @James_Pasch
I am running for re-election to city council because I love Beachwood. My wife Carly and I chose Beachwood as our home because the residents of this community embrace and value progress, an excellent education system, and safe neighborhoods. Serving on Beachwood City Council for the past four years has been a great honor. I promised that I would fight to make our city a model of responsive, effective, and open government, and I am extremely proud of what we have accomplished so far. But there’s more work to be done. From working on the Charter Review Process to instituting a backyard trash collection service for senior citizens and disabled residents, there is more to do. If I am fortunate enough to be re-elected for a second term, I will work on: Attracting and retaining families through improved housing options; enhancing our commercial infrastructure to keep city services strong and taxes low; Increase walkability with more sidewalks and paths and a possible town center; and continue to expand our working relationship with our school district and with neighboring communities.

From my work on city council to being a member of the Beachwood Arts Council, the Vice President of the Beachwood Democratic Ward Club, and an active member at Tifereth Israel, my commitment to the future of our community is unyielding – and that is why I humbly ask for your support and vote for a second term on city council.
I will build upon the accomplishments we have made in the areas of governmental transparency, collaboration with the school district, and supporting our police, fire, and service departments.
Our city has several notable opportunities for growth. First, it is imperative that we attract young families to our city by improving our housing stock, and we continue to encourage the updating of older homes through the Heritage Program. In addition, we must grow our tax base by refurbishing areas of Commerce Park. This will better allow the city to both retain current businesses and welcome new ones, so we can continue to provide quality services at an affordable rate.

In addition, the city must continue its strong working relationship with the school district. There is more opportunity that exists with combined programming that will both retain families and attract new families to Beachwood.

Lastly, as state funding for local municipalities shrink, we must position ourselves as leaders in the coming tide of regionalism. We are in the process of building a new safety center that includes a regional dispatch center. While our city already provides dispatch services for Pepper Pike, we should continue attracting other neighboring suburbs to join our dispatch center. Beachwood’s long-term success will depend on the success of the region as a whole. We must find ways to work with other communities while retaining our high level of city services.
Age 38
Education Miami University, B.A. (2001); Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, J.D. (2004); University of Miami School of Law, LL.M. (Taxation) (2008).
Current occupation Deputy Legal Counsel & Public Affairs Liaison, Office of the Ohio Treasurer of State
Qualifications for office -I have served on numerous community boards. -I have also served on several Financial Planning & Supervision Commissions for entities throughout Ohio.
Campaign Phone (216) 401-0074
Email address esynenberg@gmail.com
I am running because I have a ton of passion for Beachwood, enjoy serving and helping others, and want to be a role model for my children through my service.

I also believe that I have a unique skill set and background, both educationally and professionally, that will enable me to assist Beachwood City Council in the future.
First and foremost, I hope to be accessible, fair, and honest in all of my dealings with residents, taxpayers, and employees of the City of Beachwood. I never want to have any of the above-mentioned stakeholders feel that I did not listen to them or give them adequate time to discuss an issue or situation.

As far as accomplishments, I want to help make City Council more accessible and communicative to our stakeholders than ever before. I also want to increase citizen involvement through Citizen Advisory Boards and Committees, and I want to involve our youth in city government more than they currently are.

I also want to improve the way in which the City operates so that we operate more efficiently. I believe we can do more for our residents at the same, or even a reduced, cost by making an effort to be more efficient and leverage technology and data.
One challenge we currently face is to strive to be more efficient so that we can continue to provide excellent services to our residents and businesses, while at the same time keeping our healthy balance of surplus monies.

A second challenge we face is that we have aging residential and commercial properties. The City very well may have to financially incentivize both residential and commercial property owners to improve their properties through creative financing.

A third challenge we face is increasing competition from neighboring suburbs. We still have a slight competitive advantage but we need to keep that advantage by continuously improving. One way to do so would be to offer high-speed broadband at a low cost in the Commerce Park, Science Park, and Chagrin Boulevard areas.

A fourth challenge we face is that we are a high-risk security area. Traditional policing is always the best first line of defense and we have an excellent Police force. But, without substituting my judgment for that of our excellent, first-rate safety forces, I would like to at least begin the discussion of using K-9 dogs and increased mobile surveillance to aid and bolster our Police Department.

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