Candidate Questions For Sam O'Leary
Occupation: Municipal Attorney and Prosecutor, Council President
1.) Why should we vote for you and not the other candidate? (100 words)
I have the experience necessary to be Mayor. As a 3rd generation Lakewood resident, I understand our City’s history. I began serving Lakewood on the Board of Zoning Appeals, and the Tax Incentive Review Council. For six years, I have had the honor of representing Ward 2. For four years, I have served as Council President, building consensus among Council members and between Council and the Administration. I work as a municipal attorney advising mayors and councils about their challenging issues, across all aspects of municipal government. As a prosecutor I understand what it takes to make our community safe.
2.) What are the top 5 issues you see for Lakewood? (One sentence each)
My administration will maintain our strong core city services like public safety by continuing the financial discipline necessary to further invest in the people and the equipment that ensure high-quality, reliable, and efficient service for our residents.
We must do more to ensure that Lakewood is an affordable and welcoming place for all, by being good stewards of taxpayer dollars so we don’t further burden residents, by implementing policies that encourage the development of different types of housing at a variety of price points, and by helping our seniors and young families make the investments in Lakewood’s aging housing stock that allow them to stay in Lakewood.
Our services to our seniors require significant reinvestment, including a new senior center that our community can be proud of and one that suits the needs of our residents.
Lakewood’s aging and failing sewer infrastructure needs hundreds of millions of dollars in upgrades and improvements to stay in long-term compliance with the Clean Water Act’s mandates and the terms of the City’s EPA and Ohio EPA permits, which requires many different projects, including many that are both costly and disruptive.
Lakewood’s income tax revenues and overall property valuation have never been stronger than they are today, but that progress is not an accident, and there is no guarantee that it will be permanent; that’s why Lakewood needs a mayor that understands housing and economic development and knows how to keep Lakewood’s momentum while balancing the concerns of our commercial corridors and our vibrant neighborhoods.
How would you address one of these issues (100 words)
Lakewood’s seniors are essential to Lakewood. As Council President, I worked to make sure Lakewood was in a financial position to acquire a site, and have the financial capacity to create a new, state-of-the-art senior center, designed with our seniors in mind from the very beginning. A new center with integrated services and access to other residents and groups within the community is a prerequisite, but we also need to make sure we’re delivering more than a building, by expanding services and programs that allow seniors to age in place, and support their health and wellness as they age.
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)
One of the first crises I faced on Council was the potential closure of Lakewood Hospital. I am proud of the fact that I did not rubberstamp the recommendations of the Hospital Association. By demanding public scrutiny, 12 months of public hearings took place. Those hearings allowed the citizens of Lakewood to take part in our future. As a leader of government, we are forced to choose among the alternatives before us. As in this case, I would always make sure that the citizens of this community have the ability to participate in decisions that affect our city. I will continue my fight for transparency and access to government.
4.) What will you do to balance needs of residents and residential neighborhoods with economic (commercial, business) development? (100 words or less)
As a veteran of Lakewood’s Board of Zoning Appeals and a municipal attorney by profession, I have significant experience balancing the needs of residential neighborhoods and commercial districts. While I served on Lakewood’s Board of Zoning Appeals, I was faced at each meeting with questions from residents and business owners, each concerned with their largest investments-- their homes and their businesses. Having seen the tenuous relationship between business and residents, I would ensure that any commercial investment meets the residents’ needs.
5.) The current onelakewood.com website does not promote open and honest government. It is impossible to find what you are looking for on there. After spending hours, you give up. Would you be open to changing the website to one that is easier to work with?
Access to government is crucial. As Council President, I have fought for accessibility to our city’s operations. As mayor, I will continue to strive for open access and transparency at City Hall for all residents. As Council President I fought for and achieved expanded access to Council’s records and meetings, by investing in the technology to make it possible to watch meetings from home and online, as well as an archive to access Council’s ordinances and other records.
6.) 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)
As Council President, a municipal attorney and prosecutor by trade, I work to ensure that all public records are open and accessible to ALL the public. I am proud of achieving direct, online access to public records and committing to preserving and archiving historical records from the past. As mayor I will continue my fight to make the public’s records available to the public.
7.) What attributes or experience would you look for in appointing a law director? Would you consider re-appointing Kevin Butler or any prior Lakewood Law Director? (100 words)
As Council President, and as a municipal attorney and prosecutor who advises mayors and councils throughout Northeast Ohio on a daily basis, I have had the honor of working with a multitude of great public servants. As mayor I would choose the best and the brightest public servants to serve our community. Any director that I choose must be ethical, transparent, and maintain the highest professional standards.
8.) 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)
As a 3rd generation Lakewood resident, I’ve seen good times and bad. As Council President, my job requires that I work with every aspect of our community, leaving nobody behind. I am proud of the success that I have had in making sure that no voice in our community goes unheard. As mayor I will ensure that no voice goes unrepresented, and will continue my fight to make sure that in City Hall every resident has a voice. The diversity of our community is our greatest strength. As Council President, and with my experience as a municipal attorney and prosecutor for communities throughout Northeast Ohio, I know I know that we are strongest when all voice are heard. As mayor, I will ensure that every citizen knows what is taking place, and can participate in the process.
9.) Was the LO fair with this process? (50 words)
As Council President and as a municipal attorney and prosecutor by trade, I relish the opportunity to speak directly to residents. I am grateful for any opportunity to speak to the people that I have represented for the last 6 years. As mayor, my priority will be to continue my fight to make sure all Lakewood residents have access to City Hall.