Readers' Forum - Mayor's Race: Mayor Meghan George, William Yeung
READERS' QUESTIONS FOR MAYORAL CANDIDATES
1. What are the two most important issues facing Lakewood right now? What is your administration doing to address them?
2. What way can you suggest that citizens of Lakewood could become more involved in taking good care of their city?
Mayor Meghan George
EXPERIENCE: Lakewood has been my home for more than 40 years. I'm a third-generation resident, I grew up on Rosalie Avenue, and attended St. Luke Elementary School and Lakewood High School. After graduating from LHS, I earned my bachelors degree from The Ohio State University. I also hold a life and health insurance license and a post-bachelors degree from Cleveland State University. Prior to becoming Mayor of Lakewood, I was elected to Lakewood City Council-at-Large and worked as a consultant to large organizations throughout Ohio, advising them on employee benefits and human resources. I helped employers meet their workforce’s needs while reducing costs, remaining compliant with labor regulations, and planning for the future. I live in the heart of Lakewood with my toddler Maggie and my partner Matt. I enjoy frequenting Lakewood’s beautiful parks and recreation.
TWO MOST IMPORTANT ISSUES FACING LAKEWOOD: Lakewood's aging infrastructure and sewers and the use of city dollars are two imminent issues facing our city. To address the immediate need to upgrade our sewers, my administration included sewer upgrades in Lakewood's 2023 budget, and we started the sewage replacement project in March and are still working on completing it.
Additionally, my administration has saved the city taxpayer dollars so that residents and businesses can better focus on what is important to them by utilizing federal economic recovery ARPA funding to pay for capital projects like sewer upgrades and recreation amenity renovations instead of using city dollars. The City of Lakewood has also won the Ohio Auditor of the Year award for city fiscal responsibility each year of my term as Mayor of Lakewood, an award only five percent of Ohio municipalities receive.
CITIZEN INVOLVEMENT: To better take care of our city, citizens can tune into what's going on in the city government by attending city council and school board meetings and weighing in on local issues. Citizens can frequent our small businesses and utilize our public amenities. They can also be mindful of the roads by mitigating public safety issues that we can control like driving the speed limit and making the streets safer for everybody on the road. And ,they can play their part in a greener and cleaner Lakewood. We can all work together toward making Lakewood the best place for families, residents, and businesses of every kind.
EXPERIENCE: I have been training and educating myself on public governance since I was 12. I have volunteered on many campaigns since 2016 and have asked candidates many questions, including their goals and plans to achieve them. I started college coursework in 7th grade, receiving a Bachelor's in Organizational Leadership from Cleveland State University. I have served on city advisory boards and attended many public civic engagement meetings of various types.. Some may hold my age and lack of real-life experience against me, but I see it as freeing from being stuck on a particular way of things. My fresh perspective allows collaborations to find better solutions to problems, and I aim always to keep an open mindset to any feedback while seeking out quality mentors and advisors.
TWO MOST IMPORTANT ISSUES FACING LAKEWOOD: From discussions I have had with Lakewood residents, the top two issues Lakewood faces now are health care and housing. We have not had a proper hospital since 2016, when the Lakewood Hospital was decommissioned and torn down. While the Family Health Center does offer some treatment options, they do not provide inpatient care. My administration would work to solve this issue by partnering with organizations to create a satellite hospital, staffed in innovative ways that build on educational opportunities in the region.. To solve housing issues, I see the first step to be discouraging property neglect by landlords, and present a program that would connect homeowners to reputable contractors, in collaboration with students at LHS.
CITIZEN INVOLVEMENT: Lakewood is a city of neighbors. Our city is influenced by each of us. We are all influenced daily by various pressures on each of us, which then affects how we interact with one another. I see city leadership’s role as fostering opportunities to build community relationships, similar to ways I saw while I was working with the Madison Court Community Coalition. Instead of constantly nagging people on what they should do, it is more effective to give people the opportunity to take actions that match their values. The more opportunities we can provide to our community to engage with each other in meaningful ways, the more people will naturally become involved in caring for our city. There is also the constant struggle of breaking through the information overload that everyone has to get invitations to community connections onto people’s calendars, so we must keep trying.