Responses from 2019 candidates for Lakewood mayor, city council, and board of education, to questions from the Lakewood Democratic Club:

Meghan F. George, candidate for mayor

Why are you a Democrat and how have you demonstrated that?

I have worked to get Democrats elected for nearly my entire life. From Madeline Cain to Lee Fisher and my own father who spent 20 years representing the City of Lakewood as both Councilman and Mayor. I firmly believe in the principles of the Democratic Party. Strong Unions. Protecting women’s rights. The Environment. As mayor, I would work to be sure these principles are abided by at all times.

What is your agenda for the office you seek?

As a representative on City Council, I have worked to represent all of Lakewood by making people the focal point of all policy decisions. I have advocated for the removal of discriminatory policies and have enacted legislation to protect the health of the public with food truck safety regulations as well as Lead on Leave by introducing a robust paid family leave program for employees. If elected to the seat of Mayor, I will continue this work of making the citizens of Lakewood the focus of my decisions.

What qualifications/attributes/skills do you possess that make you the best candidate?

I have called Lakewood home for nearly 38 years. As a third generation resident, I understand the unique needs of our community. I have been involved in the community in a variety of aspects, from my nearly decade tenure as a supervisor for Lakewood Recreation Department to working at Harding Middle School to now representing Lakewood as an at-large member of City Council. Additionally, I have worked in the private sector for nearly a decade as workforce strategy consultant for employers throughout Ohio. In this role, I have assisted CEOs and CFSs on not only creating a competitive working environment, but also mitigating risk and establishing budgets. I believe that my community service as well as my practical experience in the private sector have provided me with the skill set for the role of Mayor.

What are the biggest challenges and opportunities facing our community?

There are several issues of importance on par with each other. One of the greatest issues we face as a community is the financial burden of the overhaul of our 100 year old sewer system. This massive undertaking will impact every household for decades to come. It is imperative that we look at creative solutions to tackle this head on while also understanding the necessity of the needed project for the health of our great lake.

Sam O'Leary, candidate for mayor

Why are you a Democrat and how have you demonstrated that?

My family's public service showed me that government can be an incredible force for good. From my mom's devotion to serving the homeless, to my family's many teachers and their commitment to the kids they taught. I soon realized that public service was my calling, too. All too often, the obstacle to progress was a lack of political will. So, from about the age of 10, I worked to support candidates who were focused on what matters to me: fairness, equality, and inclusion. I have gotten to know many of you through these campaigns over the years. Whether it was Hagan for Governor, or the early Council races of folks like Nickie Antonio and Tom Bullock when I was co-founding the Lakewood High School Democratic Committee, or on the many statewide and federal races, it has been an honor to stand with this club in campaign after campaign. My roots in this club are deep. As councilman, I've worked tirelessly to advance democratic ideals that benefit our City by supporting efforts to combat climate change through budget and policy priorities, passing the City's human rights ordinance, supporting safe and equitable transportation options, or advancing collective bargaining rights.

What is your agenda for the office you seek?

Lakewood needs a mayor that is focused on what counts: keeping our core city services strong and keeping Lakewood an affordable place to live where everyone is welcome. Maintaining top-notch city services, from public safety to streets and parks, means investing in both the people and the equipment they count on to make our services high-quality, reliable, and efficient. By continuing to pioneer new technologies, by providing training and professional development to our employees, and by innovating solutions to the problems our city faces, we can continue to serve our residents, while also being responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars, so that the City is not adding to our residents’ already sizeable tax burden. Lakewood also needs to make a serious reinvestment in the services we provide to our seniors. Prioritizing investment in the new senior center and making sure that it has the features and accessibility that our seniors need is essential. We also need to make sure that transportation is a focus, because while Lakewood may be “walkable and bikeable,” or focus should also be on making Lakewood accessible for all.

What qualifications/attributes/skills do you possess that make you the best candidate?

I have been dedicated to Lakewood and dedicated to public service my whole life. As a 3rd generation Lakewood resident, I understand where the City has come from and where we should be headed. While in my early twenties, I demonstrated my commitment to Lakewood by serving on the Board of Zoning Appeals, and the Tax Incentive Review Council. For the last six years, I have had the honor of representing Ward 2 on Council, responding to citizens’ concerns and complaints and tackling tough issues. During the last four of those six years, I have served as Council President, working between the Council and Administration, and among the members of Council, to bridge differences and forge consensus to move the city forward. For the last five years, I have worked as a municipal attorney advising mayors, councils, and other public entities throughout the region about their most challenging issues and difficult situations, across all aspects of municipal government. As a local prosecutor I work closely with law enforcement and understand what it takes to make our community safe, from passing laws to getting justice for crime victims and the community.

What are the biggest challenges and opportunities facing our community?

I firmly believe that Lakewood has never been stronger than it is today, and that Lakewood's best days still lie ahead. However, our progress has not been an accident, and there is no guarantee that the progress we’ve achieved together will be permanent. Creating a new senior center is desperately needed and presents a major opportunity to make a world-class facility that our community can be proud of, while expanding and improving the services we provide and how we provide them. Our city could benefit from significant interest and investment in our existing housing stock, and creating new places for people to live. However, we have to balance this interest with our existing neighborhoods, so that we can preserve Lakewood’s character, and keep our housing affordable for all. Lakewood must also “walk the walk “when it comes to making investments to address the climate change, and build a city resilient to its impacts. We need a mayor with the vision and creativity to navigate these challenges and opportunities, and the experience to implement solutions and make the vision a reality.

Mike Callahan, candidate for board of education

Why are you a Democrat and how have you demonstrated that?

I am a Democrat because I believe that all people should have the opportunity to thrive. I believe that everyone should have the ability to earn a living wage, access health care and quality education. Our differences are what make this country and city great, and people of all backgrounds should have opportunities for success. Those with mental health or physical limitations, homeless, or otherwise poor should never be left without basic needs being met and opportunities to improve their situation. The dignity of each person should be appreciated and respected regardless of background or socioeconomic status. I am a Democrat because I support environmental sustainability and preservation of natural resources. I have demonstrated being a democrat through my voting record, the profession I have chosen, the entities and efforts I support and through the values I instill in my children.

What is your agenda for the office you seek?

First, to build on the existing relationships I have with Lakewood Board of Education members and ensure the Board is a place where different perspectives and opinions are welcome and respected. I would work with my fellow Board members to advocate for the great district and to ensure that the Board’s two direct reports, the superintendent and the treasurer have the resources needed to move the district forward and do their jobs effectively. Improve working relationships between the Board of Education and Lakewood City Council. I would be a leader in an initiative to have the two entities meet with more frequency and substance. I would work with fellow members and district leaders to address the common concerns I received in the campaign process. Concerns in areas such as school safety, use of technology, diversity among teachers, class size and more. The concerns presented do not suggest grave problems, however the frequency and consistency with which they have come to me warrant the attention of the Board and district leadership. I would work with fellow members to ensure there is a responsible plan to address shortfalls in the budget forecast.

What qualifications/attributes/skills do you possess that make you the best candidate?

I am an established leader in the community. I have served in leadership roles on my block, in church, and in my profession as a parks and recreation professional. I am a lifelong Lakewood resident, as is my spouse. We have three children, two of whom are currently enrolled in the district with a third yet to start school. As a parent of a young family I am positioned to represent the present and future of the district, while also having an understanding of the past. The primary mission of a school district is to prepare students in grades pk-12 for their future. Lakewood is unique in that recreation services also fall under the school district. In most communities, recreation services are a city function or they fall under a stand along park district. I believe the arrangement in Lakewood is appropriate for the community, however I also feel that the Board could benefit from the perspective of a parks & recreation professional.

What are the biggest challenges and opportunities facing our community?

The community has benefitted greatly from the strength of the current local and national economy and strong local leadership. Given pressure put on local governments by the state and other factors, a downturn in the economy could have a significant impact on the City of Lakewood and the Lakewood City Schools. I would consider preparing for and being able to mitigate the negative effects of such an economic downturn to be a big challenge. The greatest opportunity our community has is to truly be a model for the nation in successful inner ring living. With continued smart economic development initiatives, continuous improvement in our already great school district, care for natural resources, and continued improvement to the working relationships among local government entities and community organizations, this community can achieve even greater success. Lakewood is already a model for the region and could very well become a model for the nation.

Andy Meyer, candidate for board of education

Why are you a Democrat and how have you demonstrated that?

I am a Democrat because I believe in education, in equality, in environmental protection. I believe that we should be forward looking, that things are improvable, that we have not yet reached our pinnacle or our full potential. The Democratic Party is the party that represents those core values; we are the party that believe in change and in progress. I have demonstrated that commitment by being a Democratic and progressive activist on behalf of numerous issues, campaigns, candidates, and causes for my entire adult life. I’ve known many Dem Club members for years, some for many years. They know that I am both a hard worker, and a smart worker, for Democratic causes. Regardless of the results of this election, I will maintain that commitment; if I lose, you will see me coming back, every year, working on behalf of the things I believe it, and if I win, you will see me coming back, every year, working on behalf of the things I believe in.

What is your agenda for the office you seek?

My agenda is one of community responsiveness and a concern for effective government. I’m aggressively reaching out to the public, learning about their individual concerns, and will advocate for their interests and my own ideas. A very brief list of specific agenda items; advocating for a new voluntary, regional consortium of local, Cuyahoga County school districts to exchange best practices and avoid common pitfalls, a focus on similar qualities of helping facilitate best practices intra and inter school district context, being a thoughtful and diligent eye on the upcoming financial challenges and projected budgetary shortfall, responding to parent and community concerns such as protecting and strengthening teaching that is cognizant of the individual, whether in advanced classes, special education, vocational, or musical education, and nutrition, in terms of fresh and healthy school lunches or concerns about handing out excessive candy. Some are issues I initiated, some are issues that have come up as frequent matters of interest among parents and residents, all are issues I will work hard on.

What qualifications/attributes/skills do you possess that make you the best candidate?

Educational qualifications include graduating with honors in obtaining a BA from Ohio University, with a dual major in History and Political Science, and an Environmental Studies Certificate. Later, obtaining a JD from the University of Cincinnati College of Law. Professional qualifications include being a former substitute teacher prior to entering law school and being an attorney for about 13 years. Community or Civic qualifications include being Co-Chair of the Lakewood Democratic Club Bylaws Committee for the most recent changes to the Bylaws, membership in the 2014 Lakewood Citizens Advisory Commission, membership in the 2014 Lakewood Charter Review Commission, where I was a leader in drafting innovative provisions to mandate training for newly elected officials to help stimulate good ideas and avoid common pitfalls. Attributes and skills include an ability and willingness to see and work outside the box. Those who know me well know that I often have different perspectives from even my closest friends and am willing to take solitary positions when my values demand it. But they also know that I will always take a respectful and collaborative approach, which helps ensure that relationships remain optimally productive.

What are the biggest challenges and opportunities facing our community?

In the context of schools, it would be maintaining, perfecting, and expanding our services without imposing too great a financial burden upon our residents. Recent news in Lakewood suggests an upcoming future budget shortfall. Lakewood property valuations have generally seen an enormous increase in the last year, likely leading to greater property taxes as it stands. Residents will therefore want to be reassured, before any other action, that all proper alternative actions have been explored in depth. They will want reassurance that the financial consequences of the greater property taxes resulting from the increased property valuations are fully accounted for before any other action that could contribute to further financial demands upon homeowners. And residents will continue to want improvement and work on the issues that concern them most throughout that process, such as those items listed in the agenda list.

Emma Petrie-Barcelona, candidate for board of education

Why are you a Democrat and how have you demonstrated that?

I am a Democrat because the party best aligns with my worldview. I believe in the rights of women, supporting children and families through education and social programs, protecting the environment, common sense gun law, supporting equal rights for LGBTQ? persons, appropriate regulation and safety net programs, unions/workers, access to health care, welcoming immigrants and refugees, and that all people, regardless of race, religion, color, disability status, etc. should be treated fairly and with respect. I have demonstrated these values through my voting history (Democrat since I voted in my first election in 1996- cast a ballot for President Clinton) and support of candidates (such as giving money to the Hillary Clinton campaign). I have been a member of this club for 9 years, participating in meetings and have served on the audit committee three times and I have been a Summer Supper Sponsor numerous times.

What is your agenda for the office you seek?

I would like to continue to serve the people of Lakewood through good representation and supporting the school administration and students. I will work toward consistent improvement and growth. As always, I’ll continue to represent the people, families, and children of Lakewood, listening to concerns and issues and working with the Superintendent and Treasurer to continue to improve and advance the district. We have strong and effective leadership right now in the district. I also work to make sure concerns and questions are addressed by the administration. Additionally, as needed, I support the board in updating policies that will make the district a better, safer, and more effective place to attend school and be an employee.

What qualifications/attributes/skills do you possess that make you the best candidate?

I am a graduate of the Lakewood City Schools, class of 1995. I am a former coach and employee of the district. My children attend the schools, now at Harding and Lincoln and Grant before; I have perspective on how the schools are right now. I am a full-time working mother (with a full-time working spouse); I can relate to the needs and challenges of having kids in school, school hours, before and aftercare, and the juggling that families have to do. My family is bi-racial (my husband is a Filipino-American) and it helps in my awareness of multi-racial and multi-ethnic needs and experiences for all Lakewood students. I have a Master’s Degree in Urban Studies/Economic Development (with a BA in Economics, Public Policy, History, and Poli Sci) so I possess skills and understanding in the connections between community, schools, taxes, resources, and balancing needs. I have had a career in government and non-profit, currently serving one that helps to provide housing for the formerly homeless and persons with special needs. This helps me to keep the needs of our students and families and all of their challenges in mind when considering the impact of decisions. I am in my 2nd term and have the experience this job requires.

What are the biggest challenges and opportunities facing our community?

In Lakewood, the larger issues are realizing the opportunity in growth (and stability) without losing the affordability and diversity of the community. Within education, I think the consistent issue is meeting the needs of all students- with their varied experiences, talents, and growth areas- with the resources available. We have to work within the state funding system and balance the needs of the community and the students. Given resource availability it is critical that the schools are a good steward of the community’s resources. We can work to make sure all Lakewood students have a home in the Lakewood Schools, helping them to grow and learn, while working in the environment that we share.

Tess Neff, candidate for city council Ward 1

Why are you a Democrat and how have you demonstrated that?

I am a life long Democrat because I believe in and exhibit the values that are the core of democracy. My career in public service is a testament to those values. I practice equality on all fronts, I treat all people in a fair and just manner, I work to ensure equal access to justice, and enforce individuals civil and due process rights. A very recent example is the progressive, supportive, and lead role I continue to take with regard to the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court Intervention Center. This model is a best practice. It ensures all youth and families are provided an equal opportunity to access community support services regardless of their race or socioeconomic status. In spite of staff and community resistance to this change in practice, my team and I persisted in implementing the Intervention Center for all Cuyahoga County youth and families. We were determined to make this project a reality because it is an immediate and impactful process to help those less fortunate. Also, when I served as a magistrate in the Lakewood Municipal Court and the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court, I always was conscientious that the parties due process rights were protected and they were enforced. I have also volunteered and taught underprivileged youth their constitutional rights.

What is your agenda for the office you seek?

My agenda is simply to work collectively with the council members, to work in partnership with the new mayor, and to engage the community members to achieve solutions and decisions that are in the City of Lakewood’s best interest. Inevitably this process will be difficult and challenging, particularly as it relates to economic development, improvements to the infrastructure, and maintaining robust public services while keeping a balanced budget. I will bring value to the decision-making process as a result of my work experience and practice to engage stakeholders, partners, and the community in those discussions. Exercising in collaborative efforts with all interested parties will foster relationships, improve communication to the citizens, and build trust with the community that council is entrusted to serve.

What qualifications/attributes/skills do you possess that make you the best candidate?

I believe I am the best candidate because unlike the other candidates, my work experience uniquely qualifies me for the council job and directly relates to the responsibilities required of council. Further, I have dedicated my entire professional career to public service and helping others. I possess the experience and I know first-hand the importance of accountability to the customers I serve. I have extensive dealings being in the decision- making position. During my leadership we have created and implemented policy and procedure. I have decided budgetary issues for 550 staff, services and programming while working with an approximate budget in the amount of $60 million. In addition, I am accustomed to working in unison with my team of directors and managers to reach solutions on challenging issues.

What are the biggest challenges and opportunities facing our community?

One big challenge our community faces is the continued planning, investing and funding for improving the sewer system while complying with the Clean Water Act. This is complicated because the system is 100 years old, this is a long term project, Lakewood has a combined sewer system, and the city must actively demonstrate progress to increase the capture and treatment of the overflow water before it discharges into Lake Erie. Big economic development opportunities await Lakewood in the near future. We need to balance housing, businesses, impact on the particular neighborhood, public services, potential income to the city, and forecaswhen deciding development projects.

Brad Presutto, candidate for city council Ward 2

Why are you a Democrat and how have you demonstrated that?

I believe that we are all created equal. I am an active supporter of women's bodily autonomy. I am a proud ally in the LGBTQ community, and a longtime member of the Human Rights campaign. I oppose efforts to single out minority groups and divide people against one another. My campaign, and time in office, will be spent making sure all are heard and represented fairly in local government. I believe we are stewards of this planet. My campaign has prioritized green initiatives in two of our first two agenda items.

What is your agenda for the office you seek?

My primary agenda item is to address water/sewer upgrade costs. We all agree that we should not be dumping sewage into Lake Erie, but the current forecast will only get the city to 88% compliance and cause most residents to see water bills double or triple. I will work to find additional sources of funding and to keep Lakewood affordable. I will also prioritize our green spaces: Designating St Charles Green as a park, prioritizing updates to Kauffman Park, and bringing more ambition and a sense of urgency to growing Lakewood’s tree canopy. Lakewood also needs to bring back some “achor” employers. I am a proud small business owner, but we need to replace the skilled jobs and tax revenue lost with the departure of New York Life, our hospital, and others. My career experience in the recruiting and job placement field will give me an advantage in promoting our city to employers.

What qualifications/attributes/skills do you possess that make you the best candidate?

I earned my degree in Political Science with a concentration in Environmental Studies at John Carroll University. My career in recruiting and job placement has required me to work with multiple demographics and cultures. I also provide volunteer help to the Refuge Response, Teen Response group, high school seniors, and those leaving recovery support services, to assist people in developing needed job skills. I have been able to solve problems already for the Ward 2 community. Residents have reached out directly to me to resolve issues with trash, trees, broken or missing signs, parking on a side street, and cleaning up Kauffman Park.

What are the biggest challenges and opportunities facing our community?

The biggest issue for our community is water/sewer upgrades. We need to protect Lake Erie, but we can not price people out of our city with water bills that would exceed $200/month by 2030. Keeping our city green also means protecting the existing green space we have, increasing Lakewood’s tree canopy, and pursuing alternative energy options like hydrogen fuel cells powering the future high capacity water treatment plant, hydroelectric turbines in our rain water infrastructure, and increasing the city’s investment in solar technology. Smart, sustainable growth and development is also a challenge and opportunity. We need to become better at working with large employers, to bring tenants into unleased new commercial space, and helping small business owners with programs to refurbish empty storefronts on Madison.

Jason Shachner, candidate for city council Ward 2

Why are you a Democrat and how have you demonstrated that?

I strongly believe that government can and should improve people’s lives, that diversity is one of our country’s greatest strengths, and that opportunity for success should not be dictated by zip code or familial wealth. Government should be there to fill in the gaps to make people’s lives better, and our leaders should be looking out for everyone’s best interest, not just an elite few. I have devoted my life and career to public service and have a demonstrated record of working to address social issues. I became an assistant prosecuting attorney because when I briefly worked in defense, I found that by the time I got involved it was often too late. Prosecutors have an enormous amount of power, which is why I make every effort to ensure that no one faces an unjust prosecution. If I believe that a person was arrested and charged unjustly, I advocate to have the case dismissed or to ask the Grand Jury to return a no bill. I recommend that a defendant’s bond be reset to O.R. for non-violent, low level felonies so the defendant does not have to pay bail to avoid jail. I also strive to fiercely advocate for victims, many of whom have experienced an untold amount of trauma.

What is your agenda for the office you seek?

Affordable, quality, and appropriate housing is limited in Lakewood. As our community continues to become a popular place to live, the cost to purchase or rent a home has increased drastically. We also have an aging population, whom often face accessibility issues in our old Lakewood homes. I hope to address these issues by exploring changes to the Planning and Zoning code to allow for the creation of more affordable housing options and promote the ability for seniors to age in place. Involving residents in the legislative process is necessary to ensure that City Hall is responsive and addressing issues that are important to the community. I will prioritize providing prompt, accessible service and on informing residents of important potential votes on items such as development decisions or rate increases. As one of the most densely populated cities in Ohio, Lakewood has traffic congestion and parking problems. I hope to implement alternative transportation options, like increasing bicycle infrastructure and adding e-bikes, to alleviate traffic congestion and parking issues. I will also support and advocate regionally for reliable, convenient, and appropriate public transportation.

What qualifications/attributes/skills do you possess that make you the best candidate?

My experience in community organizing taught me the importance of engaging the community and speaking with stakeholders when crafting policy. We can improve trust and participation in our city government by not just focusing on the loudest voices, but by seeking out the opinions of all our community members. That means making affirmative efforts to reach our neighbors where they are. My community organizing training has equipped me with the skills to build coalitions and communicate effectively to enact policies that will benefit all of Lakewood. While a student at Case Western Reserve University School of Law, I sought out experiences that would prepare me to advocate for ordinary people. I worked for the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland and the Criminal Justice Clinic, and earned the Saul S. Biskind Public Interest Fellowship. As an APA in the Lake County Prosecutor’s Office Civil Division, I gained extensive experience drafting and reviewing resolutions and public works contracts, interpreting statutes, and handling government personnel issues. I understand the consequences of legislation and can perform an independent analysis of statutes without solely relying on the opinion of the Law Director.

What are the biggest challenges and opportunities facing our community?

Lakewood’s greatest challenges center around housing and land use. Lakewood’s investments in the community have created a high demand for housing, which is reflected by the 67% rise in property values since 2013. This increased demand to live here has numerous positive effects, like increased funding for our schools and a rise in homeowners’ equity. However, 56% of Lakewood residents are renters. Those on fixed income or whose wages have not kept pace with rising rents or property taxes are experiencing the adverse effects of Lakewood’s growth. These challenges also provide Lakewood with an opportunity to explore innovative solutions to our housing needs. Our Planning and Zoning Code does not provide for accessory dwelling units as a permitted accessory use or a conditionally permitted use. An accessory dwelling unit is “a second small dwelling right on the same grounds (or attached to) a single-family home.” Providing for accessory dwelling units would increase the amount of affordable housing stock, increase options for those looking to downsize, and allow our seniors more options to age in place. When exploring these solutions, we must make sure to include residents and stakeholders in the conversation.

John Litten, candidate for city council Ward 3

Why are you a Democrat and how have you demonstrated that?

I am a democrat because I support caring for those who have the least amount of care, resources and education. I am a democrat because I believe everyone deserves a fair chance. I am a democrat because our environment is important and at a tipping point. I am a democrat because I place resident safety over profit. I have demonstrated that by running an organization that serves over 7,000 people annually through food, clothing, shelter & housing, advocacy and a path to self-sufficiency. I have run an outdoor education facility that teaches environmental stewardship to 5th & 6th graders, along with being a traditional summer camp. I have championed block clubs where everyone has a voice and easy access to their council representative. I have supported legislation that expanded protected groups in Lakewood, including the LGBT community. I have authored, and we unanimously passed legislation to raise the minimum smoking/vaping age in Lakewood to 21.

What is your agenda for the office you seek?

I would like to continue progress made expanding and embracing block clubs throughout Ward 3 as a means to connect with residents, build community and make us safer from within our neighborhoods. I would like to continue to seek ways to keep our residents safe, be it through traffic, pedestrian and bicycle safety, through the aforementioned block clubs, through properly funding our safety forces or through specific initiatives as situations arise. I would like to continue to be a conduit between residents and developers. As groups want to come into our city, we must continue to be a bridge and seek compromise. Three ward 3 developments have shrunk in size or changed dramatically because of resident feedback filtered through their council representation and our city commissions.

What qualifications/attributes/skills do you possess that make you the best candidate?

I have demonstrated success in working with constituents, providing high customer service and an actively listening ear. I have strived to do so as a neighbor first, and put myself into the resident’s shoes whenever possible. I have a master’s degree in public administration and have applied it to both my non-profit and government based careers. This includes tools like organizational management, budgeting for multi-million dollar organizations, working through poverty or equity issues and more. I also feel like Ward 3 residents know me better than they have ever known their council representative (unless your name is Wendy Summers). Overall, I strive to be visible and accessible.

What are the biggest challenges and opportunities facing our community?

Our greatest challenge and opportunity is development in the face of the growing popularity of Lakewood. Generally, we don’t want empty store fronts on commercial corridors, but filling those vacancies ought not cause empty homes on our residential corridors because we’re scaring residents away. We must strive for balance in the face of this opportunity/challenge. I am proud that thus far, no major development in Ward 3 over the past year has gotten exactly what it wanted, and instead learned to adjust based on what residents have wanted. I’d add that neither side getting exactly what it wants is essential to compromise. Another challenge is being an 1890 designed town with 2019 vehicles and traffic. We must continue to promote walking and bicycling. We must also seek out ways to keep our streets safe in the face of design challenges. I’m proud that we will be piloting speed tables on Marlowe within the next few weeks, and hope that we can easily expand that to other neighboring streets. I would add that the pilot is taking place with the vast majority of residents offering their approval in advance. We are also very close as a council to passing newer, tougher distracted driving ordinances.

Jeff Wise, candidate for city council Ward 3

Why are you a Democrat and how have you demonstrated that?

Thank you for taking a moment to read this. I appreciate your interest in learning about the views of all the candidates. A discussion about our city’s future is very healthy. I am a proud lifelong Democrat. I have demonstrated this by supporting Democratic candidates and causes and serving our community as an aide at the Ohio Statehouse. I was first inspired by the promise of public service during an internship at the Statehouse in 2001. Three years later, I was honored to be elected one of Ohio’s youngest delegates to the Democratic National Convention. At Ashland University, I pursued positive change as a leader at one of Ohio’s most conservative colleges. This made a big difference in a place that needed to hear our side of the issues. As president of the Young Democrats, I reinvigorated the club, registered new voters and worked to make a difference in the community. Despite opposition from the school, I founded a proequality group to make the campus more inclusive and welcoming to LGBTQ students. I have always stood up for our values- equality, justice and opportunity for all. It is vitally important that we speak out for what we believe in- even if it is unpopular at the time- as I have done throughout my life.

What is your agenda for the office you seek?

My agenda is one for the people of Lakewood. I am running a positive campaign to improve our city for the benefit of all residents. I stand for open, honest and transparent representation. I have pledged to work hard for residents, do things differently and always listen by holding frequent community meetings, open office hours and “coffee with your councilman gatherings.” Residents deserve the opportunity to be heard more than just during election season. My action agenda includes: 1. Maintaining safe streets and welcoming neighborhoods with a focus on quality of life issues. 2. Updating our economic development plan to better attract and retain good paying jobs. 3. Encouraging responsible, sustainable, historically appropriate development that is respectful and beneficial to adjacent residential neighborhoods. 4. Improving infrastructure and streetscape beautification. 5. Promoting sustainability initiatives including increasing and preserving our city’s tree canopy. Having served as an aide at the Ohio Statehouse, policy development and legislative implementation are some of my strengths. I will put these skills to good use on city council to improve our community

What qualifications/attributes/skills do you possess that make you the best candidate?

My strong commitment to our Democratic ideals, combined with my passion for making a difference and significant public service experience makes me uniquely qualified to serve as Ward 3’s next councilman. During my time at the Ohio Statehouse I took great pride in helping Lakewood residents solve their government-related issues. Whether it was helping a resident cut through bureaucratic red tape to start a small business or finding housing for a senior citizen on the verge of homelessness, I always did my best to make a positive difference. My interest in policy and the legislative process stems from my belief that government at all levels can and should be a force of good in peoples’ lives. I have found success working with folks from different backgrounds and interests to find common ground. Almost all of the legislation that I worked on had bipartisan support and that is important, now more than ever. I also have significant business experience in the real estate field. This expertise will serve our city well as development proposals are vetted. To have a councilman with the inside knowledge of how developers work will result in better outcomes for the city than we have seen in recent years.

What are the biggest challenges and opportunities facing our community?

Despite some successes, Lakewood is facing many challenges and I am ready to face them head on. In recent years we have lost nearly 2,000 good paying jobs including our largest employer. We must work harder to attract new jobs and retain existing ones. The “One Lakewood Place” redevelopment poses an opportunity, but we must get it right. Meanwhile, population losses have continued for decades. We must implement smart growth strategies to stop the decline. Otherwise, the rising costs to provide good city services will be a growing burden on a shrinking population base. Our sewer system needs major upgrades to comply with mandates and protect Lake Erie. Putting these costs solely on the backs of residents in the form of skyrocketing water and sewer bills is not the answer. Poverty is on the rise. 1/5 children in Ward 3 lives in poverty. There are more residents struggling to make ends meet today than at the height of the recession. I will always think of those struggling first and foremost before making any decision on council. I will work with a diverse group of stakeholders to reduce poverty 25% by 2025. We can do better. I have a bold vision for positive change. I look forward to working together to improve our city.

Contact Us 


PO Box 771263

Lakewood, OH 44107

lkwdohdemclub@gmail.com

Club meetings are on the LAST Thursday of the month 


The Women's Club Pavilion

Lakewood Park 14532 Lake Avenue
Doors Open - 6:30pm

Program/Meeting - 7:00pm

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