On June 6, Jason Stein was . He replaces Mark Tumeo, in March.
Stein will serve until the end of the year, but must be re-elected in November to finish out Tumeo's term, which ends in 2013.
Cleveland Heights Patch asked the new council member questions about issues that are important to him and residents. The interview, which has been edited for length, is below.
Cleveland Heights Patch: How did you react when you found out you were selected by council?
Jason Stein: It was very special for me, and I was obviously happy. And I was appreciative of council that they thought highly enough of me to appoint me as a council person, as a colleague, so it meant a lot to me.
CHP: Many members of your family were there to see you get sworn in. They seem very supportive.
JS: My family has been amazing, especially my wife, Shimona. She is that force that makes being in public life possible. Without her, there is no way I could be this active in the community, and she really believes in Cleveland Heights. She is totally on board, and she’s part of the team.
CHP: You’ve mentioned that regionalism is an important issue to you. How would you like to see Cleveland Heights work with nearby cities? What services do you think they could combine?
JS: I was more than a little bit disappointed when I heard University Heights and Shaker Heights were working together to combine their fire departments, since we already have a joint dispatch with them. That’s what I’d like to see Cleveland Heights be a part of, and I’m definitely going to look into that possibility.
Beyond that, (we could combine) our garbage collection. These are the types of (services) that are very logical to look into — the benefits of sharing services with South Euclid, University Heights, our neighboring municipalities.
City Council has already gone ahead and , which is something I certainly support and will be a cost savings for us. Sometimes regionalism comes from different places you don’t expect, such as in 2007, I led the grassroots group that led the opposition to building a salt dome on South Taylor Road. Now we share the salt with University Heights, and now Cedar and South Taylor is coming alive. We have there, . Our community garden is where the salt would have been, so regional cooperation was able to help an area that looked to be depressed and really helped turn it around.
CHP: People have mentioned regionalism specifically when they talk about . How do you think regionalism can or does apply here?
JS: There is no proposal in front of City Council, so it would be inappropriate for me to comment on it in any way. I’m sure council will have public meetings about it if that time period comes, but as of now there’s nothing to talk about because there’s nothing before us.
CHP: What are your thoughts about the recent decision to ? Though it’s in East Cleveland, how will it impact Cleveland Heights residents?
JS: It’s very disappointing that the and to do it so quickly without any notice. It’s really, in my opinion, irresponsible. And not talking to the community or giving us any time to respond to it. So it’s done, and there’s really nothing we can do about it. That is a loss for our area.
CHP: What are the most important issues, in your opinion, for Clevleand Heights residents?
JS: Expanding our tax base. It is important for Cleveland Heights as it loses taxes from the state. Our government is cutting money to the city, so that’s something we’ll have to deal with. One of the ways we can deal with it is focus in on the lagging commercial districts in Cleveland Heights, like and , which have lagged behind Cedar and Coventry. Taylor and Noble seem to need a little bit of extra help. For those specific areas that are lagging, (the city could offer) a corporate income tax abatement for two to four years to encourage businesses to invest in the community and to reinvest that into the community by hiring employees and getting more equipment.
CHP: You’ve lived here since you were a toddler. What aspects of the community would you like to see stay the same, and what do you think should change?
JS: Cleveland Heights is a great city. It’s a special place to live. We have walkable community districts, multiple parks, an outdoor amphitheater, excellent schools. It’s a place where we have great neighbors, too, that’s really what makes Cleveland Heights so special. I think that we need to continue to be ahead of the curve in responding to what the people want. What people wanted in a community 20 or 50 years ago is not necessarily what they want in a community now or in the future.
Something to consider are the. That’s something that Cleveland Heights has begun to use on a few streets, and we need to expand that and talk to our neighboring municipalities. That’s what people are looking for. They’re looking for walkability and ridability on a bicycle, and they think Cleveland Heights should lead the way for a bike-friendly community.