New Mayor pledges open, accountable administration
After a competitive election campaign, Kirsten Holzheimer Gail was hoping for a short break before tackling her new role as Mayor of Euclid. However, preparing for the new job while keeping up with her current role as Council President has kept Holzheimer Gail busy nearly every day since the election.
“The campaign really offered us a chance to have some healthy discussion about the key issues facing Euclid,” said Holzheimer Gail. “We stayed positive, focused on the assets of the community and had some great grass roots support,” she explained pointing to what helped lead to her victory.
Holzheimer Gail takes office January 1, 2016 succeeding current Mayor Bill Cervenik, who was term limited after 12 years in office. Euclid’s Mayor earns $85,000 annually, slightly lower than comparably sized cities in northeast Ohio such Lakewood where the Mayor earns $103,480. She will oversee an annual budget of approximately $38-39 million.
In a discussion that focused on key issues facing Euclid and her plans, Holzheimer Gail said her administration will focus on three key factors: communication with residents, accountability of elected officials and City employees, and a “customer service” approach to residents.
“We want our residents to know what is happening in the City,” said Holzheimer Gail, stating that she plans to initiate a weekly update for residents through social media, the City’s website and other alternatives. “We’ll have an open door policy with council and residents.”
In the short term, Holzheimer Gail intends to begin meeting with locals businesses to introduce herself and better understand their needs. She also pointed to the need to fill three key staff positions immediately: the service director, law director and finance director. “We have a great opportunity to start with a new team and new ideas,” stated Holzheimer Gail.
Pointing to recent developments in Euclid, Holzheimer Gail offered perspectives on several important topics in the City.
Lakefront Development – A recent $4 million grant approved by Cuyahoga County Council that will provide a needed boost to this effort. She looks to keep the energy going with “more short term projects” that can happen while Phase 2 planning proceeds.
Water Reclamation Plant – Keeping Euclid’s largest infrastructure project on time and budget, about $140 million overall, will be an ongoing challenge. She stressed the City is looking at ways to minimize the projected cost by eliminating the need for a second overflow storage tank originally planned in the project, by incorporating some green infrastructure to meet terms of the EPA consent decree.
Hillandale/Providence Baptist Church – A major redevelopment effort recently presented to the City that is a “much further developed plan than the earlier one,” referencing initial plans presented in 2004 that stalled due to the economy and other factors. The new proposal focuses on the largely undeveloped area of Euclid bordering Richmond Heights, Wickliffe and Willoughby Hills. “It’s still early on, in the conceptual plan phase,” she stated.
Holzheimer Gail also hopes to tackle an issue that has been explored with in the past, but not formally addressed since 1996: the development of a Master Plan. “I want to create a vision for the community,” said Holzheimer Gail. She cited Painesville as an example of a community that lists its goals and objectives for the year online. She would look to outside resources to help fund the development of a plan that would involve varied groups within the City.
For the remainder of the year, Euclid’s Mayor-elect will continue as Council President. When the new Council takes office January 1, 2016, the eight sitting members will appoint a new President who will serve out the remainder of the term, through 2017. The appointee could be an existing Council member or a newcomer, according to Euclid's Charter. In fact, Holzheimer Gail’s first elective office was the result of appointment to Council when another member was elected Council President.
Someone who lives in Euclid, enjoys writing and wants to stay informed. My wife and I have two children and live in the northeast part of the City. We are active in many Euclid activities.