Plain Press Candidate Survey Cleveland City Council – Ward 3 –Primary Election, September 10, 2013
Please introduce yourself to Plain Press readers and describe the skills, resources and experience that will help you to address some of the pressing concerns of the City of Cleveland as a City Council Representative from Ward 3. (Please limit answer to 200 words or less.)
My name is Joe Cimperman and I am a candidate for Cleveland City Council Ward 3. I was born in Cleveland in the Saint Clair Superior neighborhood.
Since 1998 I have proudly served the people of Cleveland as a Council Representative. I am a bridge builder and someone who works to bring consensus and leadership together. Since elected I have helped form block clubs, have re built or built new 11 parks, and have answered thousands of calls and concerns from the great people of this community. Crime has gone down since I was first elected to this ward, and it happens because my office works with the Cleveland Police and the community. Hundreds of new homes have been built, we have fought to keep our schools open, growing, and strong, and under my leadership nuisances like Moda, the Jay Hotel, and other crime hotspots have been shuttered. I am a serious councilperson with serious results.
Carrie J. Kurutz:
After graduating from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., at 22, I was a journalist with Roll Call on Capitol Hill with insight into legislation and the art of compromise in my many interviews of top elected officials, including my first Clevelander, the Honorable Mary Rose Oakar, who is now my campaign manager for Cleveland City Council-Ward 3. I continued as assistant editor for Washington Woman Magazine and then later as a production editor for the journal of the National Academy of Sciences. In the interim, I worked for the Chicago Tribune in Kenya when my husband entered the Peace Corps. My work for these publications and others covered pay discrimination against women, governmental corruption, arts, small business, and science-based analysis of environmental problems. I later was a Field Officer in Kenya for Case Western Reserve University/National Institute of Health-which sponsored infectious disease research (HIV/AIDS, malaria, etc.) My husband Michael and I returned to Cleveland to start Ecomart, the first wholesale distributor of post-consumer recycled paper products in the Midwest. I also founded the Nuisance Abatement Coalition, Inc., a neighborhood organization which oversaw the participation of many in our community to produce effective petitions and witness statements, in coordination with local law enforcement, for various difficulties facing our minorities, children, families, and seniors. My husband Michael and I have lived on Jay Avenue for 23 years.
Hello Ward 3 Residents,
My name is Jeff Mixon. I graduated from Cleveland East High School in 1983 before attending Case Western Reserve University; where I earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology. I worked with Alzheimer’s patients as a research assistant at Case before attending Kent State University; where I earned a master’s degree in education. At Kent, I wrote my first successful grant proposal which established the Community Leadership and Student Service (C.L.A.S.S.) Program. The C.L.A.S.S. Program won the Saturn Award for the Most Innovative New Program.
I’m running for Cleveland City Council in Ward 3 because the residents here deserve a representative with vision, compassion and experience. Under the current ward leadership, the overall quality of life has consistently declined; while poverty, crime and hopelessness skyrockets.
As a life-long resident of the city of Cleveland, a former schoolteacher and community activist, it’s clear to me that we need a new approach to creating jobs and improving neighborhoods. We need an approach that puts children, senior citizens and neighborhood businesses first; an approach that utilizes the power of unions and businesses committed to social progress.
Describe an important issue facing residents or stakeholders in Ward 3 and how you would address that issue as City Council Representative. (Please limit your response to 500 words or less.)
There are many important issues facing the residents of new ward 3 yet they are all interconnected. Ward 3 is home to the most innovative and dedicated residents in this region. From the block clubs of Tremont and Ohio City to the heights of Riverview, from the converted-to-housing warehouses downtown to the community gardens of West 61 and Frontier. It is also blessed with access to our City’s greatest resources: the West Side Market, Lincoln Park, Clark Field, Lake Erie, and neighborhoods with schools where you can raise your family and live a great life. Our biggest issue is unrealized potential: from abandoned homes that could be re-habilitated to welcome new citizens, to store fronts that could serve our community with needed jobs, development, and goods. Running through all this is the issue of quality of life, safer communities, and a more engaged and collaborative model for growth. How do we all live better? Not by tearing each other down or scaring each other with false statistics, not through whispers and division. But we face the issue of our growth as a community by working together even more and forging the most cohesive ward 3 that we can. I have been doing this since 1998. I ask for your support to continue this work for you.
Carrie J. Kurutz:
Our Community faces a serious ongoing Safety Problem. Safety should no longer take a back seat to other issues in the new Ward 3. It’s unthinkable that in the first half of 2013, rape, felonious assault, vehicle theft, and arson occurred more frequently than all of 2012 (in the 2nd District). When violent crime is declining in other cities across the country, it’s shameful that in Ward 3 it’s on the increase. We must insure a better quality of life and economic development.
Going door-to-door, I’ve met hundreds of people throughout our Ward who simply live in Fear − for themselves, their families and their neighbors. An elderly woman came to the door with her walker. She said, “Carrie, I was afraid to open the screen door. The last time I did, I was assaulted.” Why do our seniors live in fear? On another street, a woman was afraid to let her own children play in the backyard because drug dealers were throwing used needles into her yard from the alley. That’s a mother in fear.
An 86-year-old veteran repairs both his own house and the absentee landlord’s home next door, which is constantly vandalized. He lives in fear. A small business owner on Lorain Avenue had the front window of his convenient store smashed, and robbed twice recently. Do you think he received a call from the councilman? A top manager of a long-time neighborhood business went outside at 5 a.m. to protect two female employees, and had a brick thrown at his head from the drug house across the street. He showed me the scar, and said he wanted to move out of our neighborhood. That drug house has been there for years. Our councilman claims his version of success. Well, that’s his opinion. Not the facts on the ground.
Crimes against women should not be kept silent. A rape reported on the parking lot of the West Side Market was first brought to the community’s attention by me. This rape, and the one the happened the very next day at Lakeview Estates, is a matter of public record. Now, there’s been a third rape reported on Bailey Ave. Last week, a 2nd District policeman told me that there were 10 robberies on a single night that same week in Ohio City, alone. The number one concern in our Community is SAFETY. I’m not waiting for someone who’s been in office for 15 years to finally heed the call to Safety. And I’m not waiting for this Councilman now to step up to the plate and do his job. He’s had enough time to show his worth. Too many people have been victimized and have been left to fend for themselves.
Police are doing the best they can, considering the dramatic cuts in personnel the past several years. I believe that our Police Officers and Fire Fighters need proper support and tools to be able to do their jobs. My opponent is scrambling to figure out what to do about crime in an election year. His long-term record shows he has not taken the problem seriously and funding for Community Policing, a success throughout the country, was slashed under his watch.
If I spend 100 nights a year walking up and down our neighborhood streets in Tremont, Ohio City, Downtown, Clark/Fulton, Stockyard District and across the Near West Side to reduce crime, and send a message that protects You, I Will Do So— You Will See Me Out There! There’s only one way to lead: by example, not excuses.
Lakeview Terrace is a subsidized housing area commonly known as “the projects.” With a population of more than 2,000 residents, unemployment here typically exceeds 35%. Over the decades, sadness and despair have been normalized here, along with a variety of social ills. Lakeview Terrace residents suffer from amputated spirits – due in large part to political neglect. Compared to the attention lavished on the corporate fat cats across the bridge, the residents of the near west side are treated as children of a somewhat lesser god. Low Rise residents, as opposed to those living in the Lakeview Tower High Rise, rarely see politicians in person.
In a city where most quality jobs go to suburbanites, Lakeview Terrace residents survive primarily through entitlement programs such as welfare and social security.
When it comes to providing positive programs for children, the reality is that there isn’t enough money to go around. Add to that the fact that children can’t vote, and they end up getting left out in the cold in a “you-scratch-my-back and I’ll-scratch-yours” political system. If the adults that care about these children don’t become aggressive child advocates, we’re likely to end up with yet another generation of children fallen victim to a phenomenon that psychiatrist Harry Stack Sullivan coined malevolent transformations. Malevolent transformations are associated with not being valued, which causes the type of anxiety responsible for most psychological maladjustments.
The Lakeview Action Network, which I’m spear-heading, is a non-profit organization whose number one priority is to raise money to enhance programming for children residing in the Low Rise. The Lakeview Action Network also has the potential to help in other areas; such as education, transportation and crime reduction.
The Lakeview Action Network envisions bringing vocational charter high schools to this area, working in conjunction with unions and businesses committed to social progress. Marketing-wise and profit-wise, this would be a win-win situation for both groups.
But for now, the Lakeview Action Network will focus on executing the following five-point plan: Sponsor a Fifty-50 Raffle Fundraiser; File as a Self-Declared Non-Profit Organization; Submit proposals to secure funds to hire a professional grant writer; Hire a professional grant writer with the help of the Cleveland Foundation; and Facilitate the process of Low Rise residents developing an action plan which will focus initially on the issue of bullying. The Dishmon Development Center will be involved in this process.
A birds-eye view of the Low Rise leaves little doubt that the lack of programs and activities for children is a matter of grave concern. So much so, that if the success of a plan to turn the area around requires that rules be bent, I would be in favor of bending certain rules. That’s the level of compassion and commitment needed here; an attitude that might facilitate a benevolent transformation.
Describe the three most important challenges facing the City of Cleveland. (Please limit answer to 100 words or less.)
We need to address abandoned homes that need to be inhabited with new residents or torn down.
We need to work even more closely with the Second District Police to help Commanders Sulzer, Stephens, and McCartney and their amazing police officers to improve our neighborhoods in Ward 3.
We have many resources in our community- we need more bridges between resources and needs so our neighbors can live with dignity and in care of each other.
Carrie J. Kurutz:
Aside from safety, unemployment, lack of education and the disrespect for our environment are enormous difficulties for this City. We must do better creating jobs for all of our people and assist small businesses in our Communities. The key to an improved economy is Education. We must provide quality, relevant education for our children and those who need retraining. This takes wise vision and careful planning, not just money. Let’s clean up our neighborhoods, especially where our poorest families live. They deserve encouragement so learning can take place, not more slag heaps, polluted air, decaying sewers, and half-baked, corrupt proposals for garbage-to-energy plants.
Reshaping Cleveland’s misguided approach to educating urban children is one of the biggest challenges that we face as a city. We remain fixated on the delusion that every child should attend college, as if the world could operate without plumbers, bricklayers and auto mechanics.
The lack of leadership, when it comes to creating jobs and providing job-training opportunities, is another major problem that we face.
Ending the political neglect of children (who can’t vote) is a third challenge. The political neglect of children is one of the principle reasons that crime is skyrocketing in Ward 3.
Pick one of those three most important challenges that face the City of Cleveland and describe the legislation you would introduce to Cleveland City Council to help address that challenge. Explain why the legislation you propose would be the best option for addressing this issue. (Please limit your answer to 500 words or less.)
I would propose legislation that would immediately put the abandoned house on a 60-day time line. Too often the houses languish on our streets and especially in the neighborhoods of Ward 3, people want to move in. So, either have the house sold to a family that wishes to move to Bridge Avenue or West 7 or Brinsmade, or remove it from the stock of properties that are causing a nuisance. Then the land can be purchased by a neighbor or a new house built on the spot. Time to take the long time out of our comeback.
Having sponsored the urban garden zoning legislation, the food truck legislation, and the increase of fines to those who park illegally in handicapped spaces, in addition to the human rights equality legislation for our lgbt brothers and sisters, I know what it takes to get the job done. Ward 3 is moving too far forward to go back to the past of the decisions of a few effecting the lives of many. This is the time for us to come together not tear each other apart. Good housing stock, safer streets and parks for families, a better bridge between us all: this is my vision for the next 4 years.
Carrie J. Kurutz:
I will form an Advisory Task Force from the community-at-large, our residents and neighborhood business owners, to advise on Community Safety. I’ll ask to be on the Safety Committee as one of my assignments on Cleveland City Council and re-introduce proposals for funding Community Policing for the 2nd District, especially for our New Ward 3. This has been successful in the past. We need beat police officers and substations. Secondly, we need more safety funding. This should be a priority in the City budget. The police department needs up-to-date equipment assessed and vetted by the police, not a politicized procurement process. Our Councilman has received more than $400,000 annually for our Ward in Community Development Block Grant Money, a federal program, and is mandated to ask the Community how our residents want the money to be spent. No one knows how this money is spent, and there has never been a Community meeting. This money, in part, could certainly fund some of the safety initiatives. Once again, there is No Transparency. In addition, it has come to my attention, that we do not have the proper resources for our Fire Department and that our Fire Fighters are working in stations with broken plumbing and black mold. We have to plan and budget for the infrastructure we have. It doesn’t take billions to fix toilets and mold, just better organization and commitment. Fire fighters must have the proper hook and ladders. I pledge not to allow the closure of more fire stations. I believe these needs are rarely mentioned by our current public servants. Our current Councilman is not transparent with our tax dollars. He ignores the needs of the residents, and focuses on filling his campaign coffers with thousands of dollars. IT IS TIME FOR A CHANGE. As our Councilwoman, our safety begins with accurate information, transparency, and openness. My goal as a Councilwoman will be to help the people in this Ward as a full-time Public Servant.
Carrie J. Kurutz, Candidate for Cleveland City Council-The New Ward 3
My initial piece of legislation as a member of Cleveland City Council would establish an Education Committee.
One priority of Cleveland City Council’s Education Committee would be to monitor and reduce wasteful spending in charter schools and the Cleveland Municipal School District.
Back in 2002, it took eight months for me to get my hands on a copy of the Cleveland Municipal School District’s annual budget. When I finally received a copy, the only thing that a fraternity brother with a degree in accounting could tell me about the budget was that it had been recoded in such a manner that made it impossible to tell how money was being spent (without a “decoding key”). Under my leadership, the Education Committee will mandate and assist in the process of providing transparency because parents have a right to know how education dollars are being spent. Corrupt financial practices, a lack of transparency and uninvolved parents are a prescription for the type of educational disaster that we’ve suffered in this city for decades.
With charter schools, especially, there is a need to set and monitor standards designed to ensure a minimum level of proficiency on the part of teachers as well as the school administration.
A third goal of the Education Committee would be to replace the unwritten, decades-old policy of social promotion with a triage approach where students’ strengths, weaknesses, individual interests and prior classroom performances are taken into account in the planning of their individual road maps to success.
A fourth goal, closely connected to the third goal, would be to provide vocational training opportunities for 10-20% of high school students. This could be accomplished in a number of ways (over time), from providing incentives for charter schools sponsors to open more vocational high schools to partnering with proprietary schools and community colleges.
Forming an Education Committee on city council would be the best approach to dealing with the problems of Cleveland’s education system because the problems are too numerous to be addressed by narrow legislation. But, while necessary, an Education Committee is not sufficient to bring about a drastic improvement in Cleveland’s educational outlook. A campaign of vocal and structural leadership — with the goals of activating and guiding parents in their roles as first teachers — will be necessary.
We must also recognize and address the impact of bullying and other social dynamics on schools’ learning environments. If increasing emotional intelligence is as critical to a school’s learning environment as research suggests, we should explore this option thoroughly.
But legislatively, establishing a robust Education Committee on Cleveland City Council will be the most effective approach to improving schools. We might occasionally elect a mayor without the stomach for dealing with Cleveland’s school system, one who prefers rhetoric over action. But at least one member of Cleveland City Council is likely to have experience and passion in this area – as I do.