Bay Voters' Guide: Mayoral Candidates
Non-partisan information provided by the League of Women Voters - Cuyahoga Area, Bay Village chapter
Absentee Voting Begins: Oct. 1
LWV Candidates Night: Oct. 2, 7 p.m., Bay High School
Voter Registration Deadline: Oct. 7
Election Day: Nov. 5
Polls Open 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Bay Village Mayor
Term: 4 years
Salary: $81,153 (2014); $86,120 (2017)
Questions for Bay Village mayoral candidates:
1. What new ideas do you have to meet the challenges of the next four years? How will you implement them?
2. Our sewer, water and electrical infrastructure is aging. What is your approach to planning for and financing (or encouraging others to plan for and finance) its maintenance and/or replacement?
3. Discuss the budgetary options and constraints that the city faces in negotiations with its public service unions. How can you reduce expenditures with these groups of employees while maintaining and/or improving morale?
4. Bay Village was one of the Westshore communities most poorly served in the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy. In addition to improved communication, what else would you do to improve service to the residents should another similar disaster occur?
5. State your position on the need for an animal control officer in the city and for a stray animal kennel operated by the city.
6. What is your vision for the future of Cahoon Park? Do you support additional active recreational activities and/or business ventures on this land? Why or why not?
My career has been dedicated to serving the public at the local and state levels. A paramedic for 37 years, the last 24 were with the Bay Village Fire Dept. I was appointed by Gov. Voinovich to the Ohio EMS Board and served for 5 years. I am a member of Saint Raphael’s Parish and have owned a small business.
RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS
1. New ideas: I will bring transparency to our city’s decision-making process and encourage citizen involvement in city government. I will establish an open door policy in the mayor’s office and encourage major proposals be brought before the voters for approval, rather than implementing them without citizen input. Citizens should know why and how decisions are made to spend or save tax dollars. I would also explore shared services with the county and update the city’s long-neglected master plan, using realistic revenue estimates. My vision is to create a more open, task-oriented city government.
2. Infrastructure: Currently, we are under EPA mandates to make improvements to our sewer system. However, other infrastructure-related issues remain, such as blackouts and flooding. I will work with council and our citizens to assess and prioritize potential areas of need within the community. I will also work with First Energy to ensure maintenance of our electrical grid, address the brownout issue, and identify threats to overhead electrical lines. Ensuring that Bay residents have properly working infrastructure is a top priority of my campaign, and as mayor, I will explore every option to provide high quality services to our citizens.
3. Negotiations with public service unions: We must do a better job of working with these groups to reduce expenditures. As mayor, I will establish a team approach built once again on transparency and involvement. Instead of a stumbling block, we should view these groups as assets that can help to reduce expenditures. We have some great employees that are dedicated to this city, who want to be involved and are willing to help. Nothing improves morale like involvement, and nothing hurts it like exclusion.
4. Super Storm Sandy: Every community needs a regularly updated Emergency Action Plan that assigns specific roles and responsibilities to various personnel. An event like Super Storm Sandy requires use of the Incident Command Structure that designates roles of communications, logistics, resources and specific needs to the event. The mayor should maintain a “big picture” oversight while the safety director oversees operations. Programs that identify at risk residents must be maintained. Under this system, City residents will be able to access information regarding the extent of the emergency, measures to be taken and receive any assistance that may be needed.
5. Animal control officer & kennel: The loss of the services provided by the Animal Control Officer has far outweighed any actual cost saved. I would reinstate the position on at least a part-time basis, in order to protect and properly contain our domesticated pets and properly address other wildlife issues. This would free up police to handle other matters. A city-operated kennel is also a matter for public discussion. Volunteers are willing to initially fund such a venture, but we must explore all means available to ensure that continued operation of the facility would not greatly impact budget constraints.
6. Cahoon Park vision: I would keep the park as open space for recreational activities with designated fields of play. Use of this property that expands beyond that spelled out in the bequest has been explored in the past and those attempts have failed. Under my administration, no organized recreational activities will take place on Sundays in Cahoon Park; the area will remain available for families to enjoy. Additional activities such as more lacrosse fields and bike trails would be welcome additions without changing the character of the park.
Deborah L. Sutherland
A Bay native and mayor for 13 years, I have the executive-level human resources and financial management experience necessary to get the best value for our $27 million budget. In addition to my experience as mayor, I have earned a Masters in Public Administration and have served on City Council and numerous City Boards and Commissions.
RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS
1. New ideas: We will reorganize the Police Department to include civilian dispatchers. Additional officers will be on the street, increasing responsiveness and our safety. Citywide, we will expand technology, improving productivity and efficiency while giving residents a greater voice. For example, if a resident spots a pot hole, she can fill out a work order, either over the Internet or with a mobile app. The work order will be forwarded to the correct department, assigning and dispatching a work crew. And, the work order will log the use of equipment helping us to decide on the purchase, use or lease of equipment.
2. Infrastructure: The City has made tremendous improvements on sewers, helping prevent basement flooding. In 2009, EPA mandates interrupted our 5-Year Capital Improvements Plan. The Westshore Mayors and I recently met with Gov. Kasich and the Director of the Ohio EPA to discuss funding for these priority sewer projects. We have been very successful in attracting state and county funding for our sewer and road improvements, bringing in $3.9 million in the past three years saving local tax dollars! The City does not have control over public utilities but partners with them focusing attention on power issues like Kenilworth’s brown-outs.
3. Negotiations with public service unions: The City has five bargaining units, three of which recently signed 3-year contracts. A fourth is close to settling, but the Fire union is continuing on to arbitration. Our workforce consists of 97 dedicated employees down from 140 in 2000. According to union contracts, healthcare and compensation must be negotiated. Thanks to our hard work this year, I don’t foresee any big contract negotiations until 2016. In those negotiations, I plan to work closely with our union partners to forge agreements that protect taxpayers against rate increases while offering wages and benefits needed to attract top talent.
4. Super Storm Sandy: Our Police, Fire, and Service Departments did an outstanding job of preparing for and responding to challenges presented by 500 trees downed during Super Storm Sandy. The most difficult challenge to overcome was the delayed emergency response by CEI. Our service crews cannot touch trees blocking roads until the CEI crews arrive to make sure the power is off for safety reasons. The Westshore Mayors and I met with the President of CEI and worked out a new protocol for CEI’s emergency response, including dedicated forestry crews for each community and regularly scheduled update calls with CEI’s president.
5. Animal control officer & kennel: Faced with $350,000 in reduced state funding in 2011, all departments, including the Police Department, had to experience cuts to balance the budget. The choice was to eliminate the animal control officer or a police officer. Public safety is my priority, so I chose to eliminate the animal control officer. Council supported that decision. Our kennel remains open and we partner with Cuyahoga County and the Lake Erie Nature and Science Center to provide similar service without additional cost. Only eight dogs have been transferred to the County Kennel since July 2011, making the nearly $70,000 annual cost unjustifiable.
6. Cahoon Park vision: Cahoon Park is a historical, recreational, natural and cultural gem and should be maintained according to the provisions of the Cahoon Will. Fortunately, there is flexibility in interpretation. We need to be aware of changing demographics and recreational trends that affect our citizens. Those changes require creativity, collaboration and consensus building to reach a happy medium in implementing new projects. A great example is the new Disk Golf Course. Kiddie Kollege in Bay Way is a win-win-win as it resulted in a business expansion, serving kids, using a vacant building and creating cash flow for Cahoon Park buildings.
This Voters’ Guide was assembled by members of the League of Women Voters - Cuyahoga Area, Bay Village Chapter, who selected the questions and placed word limits on the responses. Truncated responses are denoted by the [...] symbol. Candidates’ responses are printed verbatim, up to the word limit. Candidates are listed in alphabetical order. The League of Women Voters does not endorse any candidates for any offices. We neither endorse nor reject any views quoted in this Voters’ Guide. Published as a service to the voters of Bay Village by the League of Women Voters - Cuyahoga Area, Bay Village Chapter in partnership with Westlake | Bay Village Observer. The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political membership organization. We encourage informed and active participation in government, work to increase understanding of major public policy issues and influence public policy through education and advocacy. www.LWVCuyahogaArea.org