Cleveland Heights City Hall is a bland place and the off-white walls of the council chamber stare at you while you sit on the cold, wooden pews. In a City Council meeting on Aug. 25, the tone of the council members’ voices was also dull — they sounded like monotone recordings. Set speeches by each council member lacked emotion, until towards the end of the meeting.
When Councilwoman Janine Boyd first spoke, she was reading off a script, proposing ways to address problems in the community. Her job was to state the issue and generate debate from the other council members.
Later in the meeting, when the issue was taking away the liquor license of a Cleveland Heights bar, Boyd voiced how she was feeling and was able to show her true emotions.
“As a woman of color, we, in the city of Cleveland Heights…are pro safety,” she said, adding that people “need to be able to live safely in our community.”
“I am a resident of this area and I am grateful of this opportunity as well,” she added.
Boyd could be described as an optimist. In her work on council, she has been striving for ways to improve the city she lives in. Now she wants to take that energy to the state level. She is running for the District 9 seat in the Ohio House of Representatives.
She is a Democrat, and has been a councilwoman for the city of Cleveland Heights since January.
“I’ve decided to run for state representative because it is critical that we shift the tide in Ohio back to the kind of policies that protect our families by providing good jobs and high quality services, especially for those who need them most,” Boyd states on her Facebook campaign page.
Boyd also has a job in Columbus, where she works on a juvenile diversion program. Because of this work, which sometimes keeps her in Columbus, she has been criticized for missing eight of the past 49 council meetings.
Councilwoman Mary Dunbar, who has worked with Boyd for the past year on City Council, describes her as an “educated, bright woman with a good work ethic.”
When asked about the problem of missed meetings, Dunbar states, “It doesn’t bother me too much. I have had to miss meetings as well.”
Boyd has used her experiences in Columbus to help improve the District 9 area, as she outlines on her campaign website.
Greg Otte, a senior at John Carroll University, which is in District 9, said he likes Boyd’s mindset.
“Although I am a Republican, and I do feel that it is necessary for a person to earn everything they get, Boyd makes me feel that whatever she does will help improve the district that I currently live in,” Otte stated.
“The way she wants to improve the educational systems is what sticks out to me the most,” Otte added. “Going to a public school in Chicago we were, at times, lacking proper educational materials. For me it was not a problem, but for my classmates that were not able to afford particular school supplies it made their learning experience more difficult. I support this idea because children cannot be blamed for the materials they have, they are not the ones with a job earning the money nor should they be.”
Along with a personal belief in bettering the area she grew up in, Boyd says she also feels a responsibility to continue the work of her mother, who held the same seat in the Ohio House that she is now running for.
“My mother, Barbara Boyd has effectively represented our community, and I believe it is my responsibility to both continue her legacy and follow my own path to making a positive impact in the lives of our citizens.”
As Boyd states, “I will be your voice and best advocate as your state representative.”