Year One Benchmarking

Here are two sets of answers I gave the press when I was a candidate in Fall 2009.  All six candidates had to answer these questions - we did not see each others (at least, I did not see the responses of the other five candidates), but I've found that looking back at these responses over the last year has been very useful in thinking about how I'm doing and what I'm doing (or not doing).  As always, let me know what you think (I know at least a few of you will!).

1. What I submitted to the Chagrin Valley Times in Fall 2009 in response to their question (which all six candidates including the incumbents had to answer): What do you see as primary challenges/issues in your community? How would you resolve them?

I see the city’s primary challenges and resolutions to those challenges as follows:
Challenge #1: Maintaining the city’s superior reputation for the residents’ quality of life, first-rate municipal services and support to physical infrastructure during a time of financial uncertainty. Pepper Pike is not immune to volatility in the real estate market and fluctuations in property values, employment status, job growth and tax revenues.  This challenge can be met by preparing long-term strategic plans that will be informed by demographics and other relevant information, and that will be updated routinely, on a schedule, and not only when a crisis may be looming.

Challenge #2: Adjusting to and accommodating as necessary changes in Pepper Pike that are caused by changes – demographic, physical or otherwise – that occur outside the city’s boundaries. Some aspects of regionalism could be a resolution to some of the aspects of this challenge. City Council can embrace being proactive by facilitating community education and discussion about what the specifics are in this challenge and not just soliciting input when a specific problem presents itself.  Preparing residents for what may be inevitable choices that the city will have to make can go a long way toward both crafting more broadly acceptable choices as well as crafting choices that will succeed in addressing whatever the specific challenges turn out to be. 

One concrete example of this kind of challenge is the intersection of the concern about traffic at Chagrin and Lander, with commercial growth around Lander circle (i.e.,Waterway Car Wash, commercial property for sale across from Garfield Memorial Church, the re-opening of a major storefront and a new restaurant at Eton Collection).  As I’ve gone door to door, residents have asked me about whether the circle will stay or go and whether Lander and Chagrin will be widened.  These issues involve more than just the city of Pepper Pike and could benefit from proactive reviews and planning.

Challenge #3: Upgrading and modernizing Pepper Pike’s communication capabilities so that they maximize available tools and make the city government even more “green,” more cost-efficient and a better conduit for residents to optimize what they receive from and contribute to the city.  This challenge can be met through a wide array of possibilities, in part because we are beyond the time when our city could call itself an early adopter of digital and electronic means of working and communicating. As more residents rely on digital, electronic and mobile formats for receiving, sending and creating information, the city has multiple ways in which it can seize on this reality, many of which would be innovations for many residents.  Pepper Pike is not a community that would ever want to think that it is not ahead of the curve, least of all in the ways in which technology can improve services to its residents, as well as the bottom line. I would love to champion more progress in this area.
2.  And from the Chagrin Solon Sun's questionnaire which, again, all candidates had to answer in Fall 2009, the question being: What are your priorities for the first 100 days?  Please give us one original idea you bring to the office.

Although it is impossible to predict precisely the needs of the city come January 2010, I would expect my priorities during the first fourteen-plus weeks in office to include:

1. The People.  Get up to speed with understanding the city’s needs as the Members of Council and Mayor view them.  I continue to make contact with department heads and request sit-down time so that I have knowledge of their work and approach.  This priority will also involve making sure that I came to know, as best as can be expected each of my fellow Members of Council.
2. The Economics.  Review, assess and evaluate actions that might be necessary in light of  the economic status of our City at present and forward looking to the next five and ten years. For example, there is an effort in the Ohio legislature to eliminate estate taxes.  How should Council view that effort and plan for it if it succeeds? Also, the city has committed more than $700,000 in contracts toward the Master Plan.  This Master Plan must, in light of the volatile economic atmosphere in NE Ohio, be monitored and re-examined throughout its implementation in light of other demands that exist and/or may arise.

3. Technology and Energy.  [Original idea] Investigate what it would take to transition to a cost-efficient, green and more electronically and digitally-geared communications approach at the city-to-resident and intra-city government levels.  I will be pleased to develop, seek approval for and implement, in conjunction with city government, city council and residents (to the extent they want to be involved) a comprehensive plan, spread out over time, to address these needs.  I will also focus on Pepper Pike’s current energy use.  I will work proactively to help the city’s services, and our residents improve their purchases and use of energy in the future.

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