In light of the upcoming elections on Nov. 3, the University Heights City Council and Board of Education held a candidates forum, sponsored by The League of Women Voters on Tuesday, Sept. 29.
The forum opened with the Board of Education candidates at 7 p.m. The candidates running are Jim Posch, Beverly Wright and Katara Simmons. The main topics of discussion included increasing the graduation rates, making use of school buildings, increasing communication with parents and persuading students to stay within the University and Cleveland Heights district rather than charter schools.
Each candidate opened with their statements describing what they were running for, and what their passion for running is.
Katara Simmons began by discussing her past in the school district and the three main goals she hopes to achieve – equity, engagement and early childhood education. Simmons believes in the school district and wants to celebrate its gifts by making sure there is positive change by closing achievement gaps.
Beverly Wright stated that she has lived in the city for 40 years and is running for the Cleveland Heights High School Board of Education. Wright grew up in the Cleveland Heights School District and graduated in 1976. She wants to make sure there is a sense of stability for all children and hopes to do so through increasing parental involvement and strong support of the University Heights and Cleveland Heights five-year strategic plan. The most prominent reason Wright wants to run is the culture collaboration between the school board and the Cleveland Heights and University Heights City Council. She believes the partnership will improve the quality of the schools and help students be their best selves.
Jim Posch, who has a strong business background, stated he has worked within the Cleveland Heights Library. This is the first public office he has run for. He wants the schools to survive with less reliability on the tax system and has concerns over the aging buildings in the district. He believes his background in business makes him a worthy candidate. He hopes to ensure sustainable school funding, and believes the school district does not have it. He also wants to build relationships with other school districts and learn from what they are doing with their finances.
A central focus on the forum pertained to bringing back the students who have left the University and Cleveland Heights School Districts for charter and private schools. Each candidate proposed that they first need to focus on the academic excellence of the schools to make the schools attractive again. They also believe that there needs to be stronger communication between the schools and parents. Wright stated she is opposed to the school district pushing the Portal as their main form of communication, as some parents do not have access to e-mail and internet or are not technologically savvy.
Jim Posch seemed to be leading as both Ms. Simmons and Ms. Wright agreed with him on a majority of his points without adding anything. However, both believe that charter schools are taking away funding from the schools.
Following the forum for the Board of Education candidates was another forum for the city council candidates. Only two candidates who showed up. University Heights Mayor Susan Infeld said, “I was very disappointed that candidates for council did not show up with various thoughts that have a lot to do with the city’s issues.”
The two candidates in attendance were Pamela T. Cameron and Michele Weiss. Cameron has served the city for the past three years on city council and is seeking to be re-elected for another term.
Michele Weiss, who graduated from John Carroll University with her undergraduate and graduate degree, has a strong background in Finance which she feels will benefit the city.
Cameron focused on her past experience on city council as well as increasing relationships with the school district and funding with tax revenue. She said they received grants that have worked out well. She hopes to maximize current recreational facilities. She has previously added more green space to the city and is continually working on adding more recreational activities.
Weiss hopes to utilize her background in finance while on council by making the connections and monitoring spending within the community. She wants to do what is best for the city in any area, but will still oversee and help with anything related to finance. She wants to be more active in the city and participate in the procedures that happen.
If you are registered to vote in Cuyahoga County, you may cast your votes on Nov. 3, 2015.