Candidate Questions For Jeff Wise
1.) Why should we vote for you and not the other candidate? (100 words)
I care about our city and am concerned about the direction it has been going. In recent years, we have lost more than 1,500 jobs, including our largest employer. Our population has dropped substantially over the last four decades and with the next Census, we risk losing federal funding if this decline continues. Poverty is rising and more residents are struggling to make ends meet now than at the height of the great recession. We can do better. I will serve with honesty and integrity, support greater transparency, and work to restore trust between residents and city hall.
2.) Name two things you have learned while walking around talking to residents, first: what are their biggest concerns about their ward, and second, what are their biggest concerns about Lakewood in general? How will you address these concerns as their councilperson? (100 words, or less, for each)
The primary concern residents in Ward 3 have is development and how it impacts their neighborhoods. Many feel they have been ignored and the city is trying to rubber-stamp developers’ proposals. The city must do a better job with outreach, communication and responding to residents’ feedback. This is essential for the success of any project. My stance is any proposal must be responsible, sustainable, historically appropriate and fit the surrounding neighborhood. My experience in the real estate industry would be an asset to residents as these proposals are vetted. In fact, I have shown my commitment to resident outreach by already hosting a “Community Conversation” on the topic of development with residents. I am dedicated to listening to and representing their interests. On council, I will host more of these events to better connect residents to their local government.
Many residents also feel city hall has not been listening or responsive to their needs. They want an a councilman who they can count on not just for constituent services, but who will also play an active role in passing legislation to improve the city. My experience at the Statehouse makes me well qualified to accomplish these goals.
3.) Since the last major election cycle, Lakewood has lost 1500+ skilled jobs and access to health care due to the liquidation of Lakewood Hospital. What was your position on the hospital closing process: Did you vote for the Master Agreement that closed Lakewood Hospital, or would you have if you had been on council? Why or why not? If you had it to do again, would you do anything differently? (150 words or less)
I opposed the closure of Lakewood Hospital and would have voted against the Master Agreement had I been on council.
This was a bungled process lacking transparency. It was also unnecessary since there were valid proposals to keep the hospital open that were ignored.
For city hall to not only allow its largest employer to leave, but to help usher it out the door was unprecedented. Many communities fight tooth-and-nail to attract jobs, so to allow this to occur was devastating.
A better option would have been to “right-size” the hospital with an agreement between the hospital association and MetroHealth. Their micro hospital concept could have resulted in quality inpatient care while also allowing for a sizable parcel of land to be redeveloped. It could have been a win-win. Instead we now have the distinction of being the largest city in Ohio without a hospital.
4.) A big complaint from both the elderly and those without cars is the loss of the community circulator. If elected what would you do to make the community more accessible to all? (100 words or less)
I support re-establishing the community circulator. This should be a top priority as it provided a vital service to residents, especially senior citizens. It would also reduce traffic, help our environment, free up parking spaces, and be good for local businesses.
We must also make our community easier to navigate for elderly and disabled residents. This includes ensuring new buildings are built with accessibility in mind. Also, the pedestrian signal crossings at Detroit/Blossom Park and Madison/Clarence should have their red light duration extended to allow those with mobility challenges more time to safely cross the street.
5.) What will you do to balance the needs of residents and residential neighborhoods with economic (commercial, business) development? (100 words or less)
In my day job, I successfully bring together buyers and sellers in complex real estate transactions. During my years as an aide at the Statehouse, I sought common ground in legislative negotiations and had a record of bipartisan results. These skills will serve our residents well as we vet proposals from developers.
A successful outcome can result when there is clear communication, the process is fair, transparent, not rushed, and all parties are legitimately listened to. It can be a delicate balance, but we should always strive to protect residential quality of life, health, safety and property values.
6.) Over the past 15 years we have encountered 3 “moments” which have severely divided the city of Lakewood, mostly about social economic issues like health care, eminent domain, land use, land giveaways to developers, etc. If elected or re-elected what are you going to do to help mend fences and bring the community together again? (150 words or less)
I am proud to be running a positive, issues-oriented campaign to unite and improve the city for the benefit of all residents. I am focused on our future and my priority is serving all residents with honesty and integrity.
As I have made clear, I opposed the closure of our hospital. That said, I believe we must turn the page, but to do so, we need to elect new leaders. It is very possible we will have up to four new council members next year- four people who were not part of past controversies on one side or the other. What a difference that could make in uniting our community and restoring trust between residents and city hall.
7.) The records lawsuit was a moral and legal disaster for our city. What steps will you take to make our public records available and prevent future obstructionism by public officials? Do you support the proposed ethics and campaign finance reform legislation? (100 words or less)
We would be wise to remember the words of Justice Louis Brandeis who remarked, “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.” His statement about the importance of transparency in government is as relevant today as when he made it over 100 years ago. Greater transparency will result in better, more accountable government. That, in turn, will help restore trust between residents and city hall.
We must learn from the city’s past mistakes so as not to repeat them in the future. I support the ethics, campaign finance and public records legislation pending before council.
8.) A majority of Lakewood’s street fairs revolve around wearing seasonal clothes while walking between Arthur and Belle on Detroit, creating a burden to those businesses while not highlighting other areas of the community that deserve attention and a turn at putting on the party. Would you be for moving events around, and/or developing new events? (100 words or less)
Yes. A recent example of a successful move for a big event was this year’s July 4th parade. Due to construction along Lake Avenue, Ward 3 got to host the parade route this year. It was a big success!
Our community festivals and gatherings are highlights for residents and visitors throughout the year. I would support developing new events with community partners- the more, the merrier!
9.) Was the LO fair with this process? (50 words or less)
Yes. Thank you for the opportunity.
Jeff Wise is a candidate for Lakewood City Council Ward 3.