Sitting at Sweet Melissa’s with the warm aroma of chai lattes and the low chatter of customers, Councilwoman Sunny Simon appears with a cell phone at her ear and a determined look in her eyes as she prepares for the upcoming elections.
Simon has been going door-to-door to gain the support of voters, as she runs for her second term on Cuyahoga County Council for District 11. Her eyes light up as she talks about the work she has done for the community over the years and her big plans if re-elected for a second term. She says she sees the potential in District 11, which includes Beachwood, Euclid, Highland Heights, Lyndhurst, Richmond Heights and South Euclid.
“I just think it’s an amazing diversity of people and resources,” says Simon when asked what she likes most about Cuyahoga County as a whole.
Simon’s biggest plan if she is re-elected concerns the abandoned remnants of the sub-prime mortgage crisis of the late 2000s, which hit Cuyahoga County hard and left it with many empty, decaying buildings. She has developed a five-year plan to renovate the abandoned homes in her district as environmentally friendly housing and encourage people to move into the restored neighborhoods that result. She says that too many investments have been made outside of the community and it is time for the government to start focusing on improving neighborhoods in Cuyahoga County.
Simon convinced the county to develop a department of sustainability that is working on developing a new “green market” in the community. In an interview with Dr. Carlo DeMarchi, an environmental biology professor at John Carroll University, he spoke of the green market as an economic framework that prevents harm to the environment. DeMarchi says that Simon has a good plan to develop a green market through renovating buildings for environmentally friendly energy production. DeMarchi supports Simon’s plans because he says people need to be more concerned about the impact humans have on the environment.
Simon envisions a green market in housing and public buildings, which she insists will create local jobs. She says we need to be aware of global climate change and do what we can to prevent it, thereby helping future generations. She said her goal is to improve both the environment and the economy for District 11. She also wants Cuyahoga County to be a leader in the green market movement.
DeMarchi says that green markets are a relatively new idea and it is difficult to say what communities have been successful so far. DeMarchi gives the example of Wilmington, Ohio, which has promoted a green market since 2009, including renovating buildings to be more energy efficient, local farming and creating jobs, especially downtown. In this area, DeMarchi says, “This would promote economic growth in Cuyahoga County, and, by revitalizing central areas, may also reduce urban sprawl and consequent pollution.”
When asked about the attacks she has received from her opponent, John Currid, claiming she has shown a lack of concern for the taxpayers, Simon was very firm in her defense. She was very clear in providing her credentials, saying that she deserves to keep her County Council position. Although Currid has made remarks about Simon not having the taxpayers’ interests in mind and that she “is not looking out for the neighborhoods,” Simon expressed her commitment to the community through all of her work over the last few years to improve suburbs.
Simon claims that Currid “doesn’t know what he’s talking about” because he lacks experience in government. She claims, furthermore, that he does not have the education required for the position.
Simon says she does not have any regrets from her first term on County Council.
“I’m very proud of what I’ve accomplished, individually as well as collectively with my colleagues, on a bipartisan basis,” says Simon with a pleased grin. She says that the new County Council has done a very good job at developing “a government people can trust in.”