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Janine Boyd To Be Appointed To Vacant City Council Seat

Boyd will replace councilwoman Phyllis Evans, who resigned in May.

Janine Boyd is following in her mother's footsteps.

Cleveland Heights City Council announced today that they will appoint the 40-year-old lifelong Cleveland Heights resident to fill the council seat vacated by former member Phyllis Evans, and a seat once held by Boyd's mother.

Barbara Boyd (D-Cleveland), who is now a state representative in District 9, was the first African American councilperson elected in Cleveland Heights. She was elected in 1983 and served until the end of 1992, when she was elected to the Ohio House of Representatives.

Evans was then appointed to take over for Barbara Boyd and served for nearly 20 years, up until she resigned in May at the beginning of a term she had just won re-election to in November 2011.

And council has now selected Barbara Boyd's daughter out of 20 applicants to fill that seat.

"When I think of (my mom,) I think of very big shoes to fill," said Janine Boyd, who is director of government affairs and public policy for Guidestone Ohio.

She will be appointed and sworn in during the Oct. 3 council meeting.

She grew up in politics and said she's always wanted to run for office since she was a child, but she said before this month, it never seemed like the right time. She was not among the first batch of candidates who ran for council, which conducted two separate searches in July and September.

During the summer, she was working on three major federal projects that have now started to settle down.

"I did talk to the mayor, and I spoke to two other council members, my mom and dad, and Phyllis Evans, who is like family, and they all encouraged me to (apply)," Boyd said.

She said it will be an honor to "sit in Phyllis Evans' chair."

Council decided to reopen its search in August after it determined that Evans, who resigned in May, would not be considered for the position.

Evans, 67, applied for the role she left, hoping that she would be able to continue to receive her benefits from the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System.

Council indicated that they "decided not to appoint Evans to the vacant seat upon review of the opinion from OPERS that indicates that her health benefits would be in jeopardy."

Boyd will fill Evans' seat until November 2013. She will then need to run to retain the position to serve until the term ends, Dec. 31, 2015.

Her committee assignments have not been finalized yet, said Cleveland Heights Mayor Ed Kelley.

Boyd was among 21 applicants (including Evans), listed below. The other candidates interviewed who were finalists were Jeff Coryell, who lost the November 2011 council election by just 64 votes, Mike Gaynier, who also ran, and Gina Weisblat.

Kelley said he liked Boyd's background, interests and young energy.

"It's not about her mother, it's about her. She stands on her own, she's been in the community her whole life. She's very well educated ... she also has a piece that's going to really help us — she's done a lot of work in Washington and Columbus on behalf of (Guidestone) looking for money. I think we can have her do that for the city as well," Kelley said.

Boyd, a Beaumont and Communion of Saints (formerly St. Ann's) alum, said she's volunteered in campaigns since she was young, going door-to-door, manning the phone banks and handling data entry. She's also participated in fundraisers for candidates, coordinated regions for the health and human services levy for the county and attended Democratic National Conventions with her mom, who has served as a delegate.

Boyd attended Hillsdale College in Michigan and earned a bachelor's degree in Spanish and went to Michigan State for her master's in Speech and Language Pathology. She worked in the office of the Michigan House of Representatives and was a special needs and mental health coordinator for the Council for Economic Opportunities of Greater Cleveland, Head Start Program.

In her council application, she said one of her goals for Cleveland Heights was to "explore more opportunities for mentoring youth."

"I'm a child advocate, so I'm really interested in youth engagement and developing partnerships that would provide youth with opportunities that would distract them from negative opportunities," she said.  "And to think of creative ways to demonstrate to them that their city cares about them ... And people believe in them."

Another one of her goals will be to address absent landlords in the city. And she said she just wants to help people.

"You asked me about my mother earlier ... In this world, this political world, sometimes you meet people who seem interested in climbing this proverbial ladder, and if they help someone along the way, cool. But you very rarely meet people who just are in it to help people, and not necessarily to climb the ladder, and my mom is one of those people," Boyd said. "I hope I'm half as compassionate and helpful as that."

Below is the full list of applicants. Applicants who applied after the first deadline have an asterisk by their names:

  • David Bergstein
  • David Biel
  • Janine Boyd*
  • Kammer Boyle*
  • Jessica Cohen
  • Jeff Coryell
  • Martin Cosentino*
  • Daniel Cronin
  • Pleurat Dreshaj
  • Phyllis Evans
  • Mike Gaynier
  • Marcus Henry*
  • Sheronda Isler-Hunter*
  • Robert Koonce
  • Gary Maddox*
  • Sean McMillion*
  • Ronald Oswick*
  • Keba Sylla
  • Robert Taylor
  • Thomas Weiler*
  • Gina Weisblat
Garry Kanter September 27, 2012 at 12:18 AM
If I had been one of the folks who applied by the first deadline, I'd be pretty aggravated.
Ralph Solonitz September 27, 2012 at 12:26 AM
Love it!Love it!Love it!
Ken Adams September 27, 2012 at 01:52 AM
its great they put another democrat/liberal in the seat...They have worked out so well so far for the city...great economic decisions that have really grown the tax base.
Ted Dick September 27, 2012 at 12:47 PM
Congratulations to Janine Boyd. I wish her success and most of all respect in this political climate. I only know one applicant, Pleurat Dreshaj a young lawyer and I know he is a good individual and hope he is committed to Cleveland Heights. I am disappointed that Jeff Coryall who missed being elected by 64 votes was not chosen seems he represented a large component of the community.
Bonnie Dolezal September 27, 2012 at 01:48 PM
Ken, I assume you are sarcastic!? Phyllis Evans stated in the Sun Press last week that she felt Jeff Coryelll should have gotten it because he is a " loyal Democrat" , she thinks that is a qualification for being on our Non Partisan Council? At least she is honest that the County Democratic Party runs Cleveland Heights City Council! I
Mike Gaynier September 28, 2012 at 01:55 PM
Though I was disappointed about not being selected to fill the vacant seat on council, I think Janine Boyd is an excellent appointment, very well qualified, and will do an outstanding job. She has my full support.
Garry Kanter September 28, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Why do you suppose they re-opened the application window? You, and 11 other people managed to apply by the original deadline.

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