Plain Press City Council Survey – Ward 12
General Election, November 2013
Candidate Roz McAllister
1. Please introduce yourself to the Plain Press audience 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 12. (Please limit answer to 200 words or less)
I am Roz McAllister and a 20-year resident of the Slavic Village area. I am a mother of 2 and grandmother of 4 that believes that this area and the City of Cleveland deserve better service than it has seen over the past years.
I have years of experience in customer service that has taught me how to be responsive to people when they call to discuss problems. It takes a commitment to service to assure that the job and that every service we pay for is done and done right. That those that need help are given it in an efficient manner before their problem gets bigger and totally out of control.
My current work doing checks on houses that are in the foreclosure has shown me the ways that other communities have addressed their problems. Bringing those ideas to Cleveland will hold the banks responsible for the vacant properties that they own and speed the rehabilitation of those properties so that we can fill the houses with new citizens quickly.
I bring the one thing that has been lacking, common sense and dedication to bring new ideas that will move us back being a great American City.
2. Describe an important issue facing residents or stakeholders in Ward 12 and how you would address that issue as a City Council Representative (500 words or less).
Ward 12, like so many other areas of Cleveland, was hit hard by the mortgage crisis. As homeowners fell into deep debt and lost their homes we are faced with a glut of vacant properties. These vacancies have become a major blight on Ward 12 and a drain on our tax base and property values have dropped.
As these homes go through the foreclosure process they are often bought back by the banks which then sit on the homes while making little to no effort to maintain or sell those prosperities. Often these homes sit idle and unrepaired for years until they become of no use to anyone other than to tear them down. Homes that are often “good bones” houses that can be rehabilitated for far less that the cost of construction of a new home and with a longer life expectancy.
I intend to put forth legislation that will hold the banks directly responsible for these vacant houses that they own by making more cost effective for them to fix and sell rather than hold and sit as they do now.
What I propose we do is require that ever bank owned property be checked weekly by the banks. Currently they are checked one per month or less. That will add to their cost of ownership.
Next step will be to require and strongly enforce the ordinances that are on the books now as to how windows are boarded and which require those windows boards to be painted. A fine will be levied per window and that money will be divided between the City of Cleveland and a special fund to be established for each ward. The Ward fund will be used to help those in our wards that cannot afford to do simple repairs to their homes. It makes more sense to help directly those that need assistance than to put them through an expensive court process that risks their losing their home.
For example, an elderly person has a porch that needs repaired, help them fund that project so that they can remain in their home and they remain a tax payer.
No one loses in this and the banks are held accountable for properties that they own. Reality is that with a simple common sense approach the entire community benefits.
3. Describe the 3 most important challenges facing the City of Cleveland. (100 words or less)
We have seen our schools fail and I cannot accept “F” ratings of our areas schools while paying some of the State’s highest property taxes. Tax dollars have not been spent effectively to assure a good education for our children.
Crime has risen to a level where Cleveland ranks among the most dangerous communities in the Nation. We should not live in fear and I pledge to work to see that we have the protection we need and that the Police have the tools they need to do their job properly.
Jobs- Good paying jobs that were present there have gone.
4. Pick one of the 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 (500 words or less).
Solving any of the major issues of the City of Cleveland cannot be done in one single piece of legislation. When we look at the three issues I have pointed out, they are all intertwined as one compounds the others.
The issue of our failing school system is the base of many of our problems. Without a good education our youth cannot find good jobs and often result to lives of crime.
With admissions that have come to me from current city council members that there is no real plan for addressing the problems of our schools. This has to be corrected immediately. This can only be accomplished by the development of a real plan to bring quality back to Cleveland Schools. A plan that requires every one that is responsible for the education of our young to held accountable. A plan that requires that every dollar spent on our schools is spent wisely.
Cleveland Schools have a unique situation that is limited to Cleveland by state law; we have the only school board in the State of Ohio that it is appointed by the mayor instead of being elected by the parents and citizens of the city. Reality is this state law has taken away our say in how Cleveland schools are run and the direct accountability that comes with an elected school board.
Language of the State law is somewhat ambiguous as to whether it will take state legislation or a local ordinance to correct this situation. If we can do this on a local level I would put forth that we return to an elected school board and that each ward in the city be represented on that board. While this is a somewhat larger board than is traditionally done, it brings local accountability and representation that has a better grasp of the problems faced in each ward with the schools.
With improvement to our educational system through better accountability we will strengthen the future for our children and get them started along the path to self sufficiency. That will mean that we have a stronger and better educated available workforce which will attract more businesses to the city.
With better jobs we will cut the idle hanky-panky that comes that has lead to much of the problems of crime that currently plague our neighborhoods. Studies have shown that better educated citizens are less likely to involve themselves in lives of crime.
This becomes a “cause and affect” approach that will work to better the future of the city as a whole.
Solving the problems cannot be looked at in the old stale and failed manners that have failed for too long.
One of the most brilliant men in the history of our nation described how Cleveland has too often approached the problems of the city;
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. – Albert Einstein
It is time to change that pattern.