Ward One Councilman Anderson Seeks A Second Term
Process matters. Whether it concerns decisions regarding Lakewood Hospital, approval of the city's annual budget or the identification of which streets to repave in any given year, I have consistently advocated for due diligence and procedure while serving as Lakewood’s Ward One elected Member of Council since 2011.
As many may know, I was appointed to an unexpired term on Council in 2011, then was elected to a full term that November. My reason for wishing to serve on Council is to help every Lakewood neighborhood meet and exceed its potential. Quite honestly, as a husband, father of four and a landlord, Lakewood is the greatest place I have ever lived and I simply want it to be the best it can be for everyone.
As Ward One Councilman, I stand on my record of originating and promoting ordinances, codes and strategies to provide more tools to effectively deal with challenging properties and neighbors. I also have worked hard to improve the city's strategy for advancing the quality of Lakewood’s housing stock. There is always more work to do in these areas but I feel Lakewood is more than just on the right track. I want Ward One and all of Lakewood to know that there is much fire left in my belly and that I enthusiastically seek a second term on Lakewood City Council.
As a Member of Council, I certainly feel as though I am an important part of Lakewood's governing structure. However, I do not feel I am part of Lakewood’s inner circle. For example, while I appreciate the work of many organizations and officials, I rarely attend fundraisers for individuals or causes. I have, however, never shied away of asking tough questions, requesting more information and process, joining Lakewood Alive volunteers to paint houses and sweating alongside fellow Cross Point Church parishioners to help clear tall weeds, bushes and trees from the yards of vulnerable residents.
So, I'm not really “in” and I'm not really “out.” I participate fully and serve the residents of Ward One and all of Lakewood, but, I also greatly enjoy my family and my work and do not regularly participate in Lakewood’s web of established civic, community and appointed leaders, per se, which would take up much of my family time. I feel this aspect of how I operate helps me remain as objective as possible when considering important issues such as Lakewood Hospital.
Regarding the hospital itself, while there is nothing uncomplicated on this matter, I find much of the information provided to Council and the community to be unclear, less than thorough and not entirely unbiased. I have and will continue to fight for unvarnished and objective reports which may hopefully lead to a more fact-based outcome that will gain the community’s support. Overlooking the biases, the lack of clarity and not being attentive or receptive to alternative viewpoints early in Council’s process have been interpreted by some as a less than stellar process leading toward a predetermined outcome.
It is unquestionable that more than a dozen hospital service lines have been severely curtailed, discontinued or transferred since 2005. In fact, I have difficulty in identifying even one Lakewood Hospital Association decision designed to add patient volume and operating revenue. All the decisions point toward reductions termed "cost repositioning projects." It's the classic chicken versus the egg question: What declined first, patient volume or services? I don’t know for sure and I can’t read minds. What I do know is that this hospital started winding down years ago and we have a significant decision to make moving forward which must be based on all available and clear information. The outline of the now expired Letter of Intent with the Cleveland Clinic might be the best option possible. However, with so many unanswered questions related to process and content, it is hard for me to place complete faith in that option.
In addition, I feel the imperfect process over the last couple of years has led many in our community to express a lack of confidence in the option of replacing Lakewood’s full service hospital with a Family Health Center. Many believe this is a backroom deal cloaked in secrecy. While I do not believe that, necessarily, what I do believe is that if residents’ faith and trust in the way the city conducts business erodes, then we have much more to lose than a hospital.
What should be a vibrant community discussion about the provision for our future health care needs has devolved into a situation where all sides are talking past and not with each other. The resulting lawsuit and proposed Charter amendment are the results of individuals not having faith and confidence in the process. For my part, while I have fought for objective information and more transparency and engagement, I apologize for not being persuasive enough to ensure all voices have had an equal opportunity in this debate and process.
Now into the 2015 campaign cycle, with so many sides drawing lines in the sand on so many issues, I have chosen not to hold any formal fundraising events to solicit campaign donations from organized groups in Lakewood looking to advance a particular issue. I have made this decision out of a desire to protect my own objectivity on the evaluation of any program or ordinance that comes before Council. Yes, my campaign has accepted contributions from individuals who wish to support me because I represent their values and outlook. However, again, I have chosen not to solicit contributions from any group or organization that may look to get something back in return at a later time.
While the Lakewood Hospital issue currently dominates the landscape, we should not forget that our city (1) survived the economic meltdown better than most of our peer communities, (2) passes balanced budgets without asking residents to increase the payroll tax (our 1.5% rate remains one of the lowest in the county) and (3) continues as a safe community with excellent homes, schools, parks and city services.
We will survive the tough issues before us – we always have and always will. I feel these challenges will lead to a healthier community and that the future looks bright for our great city. Thank you and feel free to call or email at any time.
Yours in Service,
David W. Anderson
Member of Council, Ward 1
David W. Anderson is a licensed professional counselor, non-profit executive and child and family advocate with 20 years of experience in Cleveland’s business, educational and non-profit communities. Anderson earned a Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and a Master’s in Business Administration from Cleveland State University. Serving on City Council since 2011, Anderson resides in Ward One of Lakewood with his wife and four children.