CLEVELAND — Although Tuesday's Election Day ballot will not have high-profile presidential or congressional races, the issues and decisions facing voters at the polls are still vital to communities all across Northeast Ohio.
Here is a look at some of the races we will be tracking. Get a full list of the issues and races by clicking here.
Cuyahoga County Issue 3
Issue 3 calls for a property tax renewal and increase to fund Cuyahoga Community College District.
The current property tax is 19 cents for every $100 of assessed property value. The proposed increase of 0.4 mill would raise the rate to 23 cents for every $100 of assessed property value. The tax increase would go into effect in 2020 and expire 10 years later.
Cuyahoga County Issue 6
A cloud is hanging over Cuyahoga County as controversy continues to swirl around the conditions at the jail. Nine inmates have died there since the start of 2018. The facility has since found itself at the center of a massive scandal involving alleged corruption and mistreatment of inmates. A scathing report from the U.S. Marshals service was followed by a failed state inspection, and numerous lawsuits have been filed accusing operators of denying inmates medical assistance, forcing inmates to sleep on the floor, and even serving food with bugs in it.
Currently, the sheriff of Cuyahoga County is appointed by the county executive without any secondary approval. Issue 6 would require county council confirmation of the county executive's appointment to sheriff. It would also mandate that the sheriff could not be removed without the approval of at least eight of the 11 members of county council.
David Schilling is currently serving as Interim Sheriff of Cuyahoga County following the retirement of Clifford Pinkney earlier this summer. Pinkney testified that he was unable to fix many of the jail's problems because administrators at the facility were picked by Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish.
Cleveland Issue 20
If you want to run for office in Cleveland, Issue 20 could change the game. Currently, there's no residency or eligibility requirement to hold an elected office in the city.
A yes vote for Issue 20 would be for establishing that in order to run for city office, a candidate must have been an elector in Cleveland for a minimum of 12 months, must file nominating petitions at least 90 days before the primary election and must use standard forms of the Secretary of State.
Cleveland Issue 22
What are the rules when it comes to appointing or promoting a member of the Cleveland city administration?
Issue 22 lays out specific language "relative to classification, assessment, eligibility, and/or rejection of candidates for appointments and/or promotions in the classified service of the city." Here is the proposed list of rules for the Civil Service Commission:
- Administer open tests to determine the fitness of all applicants for appointments
- Publish the time and place of all open tests in the City Record
- Establish list of candidates according to ranking on tests
- Fill vacancies with one of the top 10 candidates from the list
- Expand temporary employment from 30 to 90 days
- Establish a six month review period for hired candidates
In September, an appeals court judge ordered the city of Cleveland to promote firefighters based on competitive exams. The firefighters' union sued the city, saying the department had bypassed the civil service exam and made promotions based on politics.
Cleveland Heights Issue 26
How will the city of Cleveland Heights be governed? Will it continue to have a city manager that is hired by and reports to the Cleveland Heights City Council? Or will there finally be an elected mayor?
Supporters for the old system believe that a council-picked city manager is a professional decision-maker who is above politics. Those in favor of electing a mayor argue he or she is directly accountable to the people.
If Issue 26 is approved, the first election of a mayor to a four-year term in Cleveland Heights would be held in 2021. Issue 26 would also create the position of the City Administrator, appointed by the mayor and subject to council approval, "who shall be responsible for assisting the Mayor in overseeing the administrative functions of the City."
In Akron, Dan Horrigan is running for re-election as he squares off against challenger Josh Sines.
Horrigan, Akron's first full-time mayor since Don Plusquellic's abrupt retirement in 2015, is seeking a second term. The 56-year-old is considered the favorite in the heavily Democratic city, and is touting (in his words) an increase in jobs, a decrease in crime, and better transparency over the last four years.
Sines, manager of a pub on West Hill, says he doesn't want to be "fine with mediocrity" and that Akron "needs an infusion of bright, young minds that will fight for the citizens." He says his campaign will focus on still-relatively high crime rates, economic growth, social inclusion, and drugs and addiction.
In Elyria, Holly Brinda will look to be voted in for a third term as mayor. She will face former Elyria Mayor Bill Grace and fellow independent candidate Frank Whitfield.
Brinda told the Chronicle-Telegram that she brings, "a proven track record needed to continue to uplift my hometown. With over $400 million of public and private investment happening in our community, I would like the opportunity to build on the momentum my administration has helped create, and finish improvements we started that address infrastructure replacements, park renovations, business attraction and expansion, workforce development, downtown, Midway Mall and Chestnut Commons improvements, housing expansions and neighborhood improvements and many joint projects with our community partners."
Grace, who served as Elyria's mayor for 12 years, is back in the political arena because, as he told the Chronicle-Telegram, "the biggest challenge facing Elyria is that it is in an overall state of decline. This is evident by increasing rates of poverty, housing values that lag behind and crime rates that are higher than neighboring communities. Among the consequences is that we are witnessing an unprecedented volume of families and major corporations who are leaving for neighboring communities." Grace believes he can provide "a workable plan that can rally Elyria residents to identify the appropriate investments and the means to accomplish it."
Euclid: The Euclid City Schools Board of Education voted to place a 8.7-mill, 10-year emergency operating levy on the ballot. If passed, the levy will raise $5.6 million annually. According to the Euclid Observer, after the 2018 levy defeat, the district limited transportation for first through eighth graders to state minimum standards. Students currently only receive transportation if they live more than two miles from their school. The board has committed to restoring busing to 2018-19 school year levels if the levy passes.
Chardon: The proposed Bond Issue - $76,000,000 (Est. 5.3 Mills) - calls for the construction of a new grade 6-12 school building, auditorium, transportation center; and renovating the existing football stadium; including site acquisition and improvements, furniture, utilities, equipment, demolition of existing structures.
North Ridgeville: Issue 16 would provide the funds to build an elementary school and a high school. The plan is to build a new 9-12 high school building with a performing arts center and a new K-3 elementary school building. The bond issue will cost about $22 per month per $100,000 of home value.
Independence: Issue 5 would provide for constructing, furnishing, and equipping a new PreK-8 school building and otherwise constructing, adding to, renovating, remodeling,furnishing, equipping and otherwise improving school district buildings and facilities.
Willoughby-Eastlake: Issue 4 is a continuous, additional tax levy that would have an annual cost of $174.65 per $100,000 in property valuation, according to the Lake County Auditor's Office. The News-Herald reports that if voters reject the levy, the district will implement cuts to areas including busing, mental health services, school resource officers, middle school and freshman athletics, non-athletics groups and more.
Other issues of note
Lake County Issue 2: Laketran Regional Transit Authority is proposing a new ¼ of 1% sales tax. Every time you spend $100 in taxable goods in Lake County, Laketran will receive 25 cents.
Mentor Issue 7: This issue asks voters to decide whether the sale of beer and "intoxicating liquor" will be permitted at the Mentor Civic Amphitheater on days of the week other than Sunday and between the hours of 10 a.m. and midnight on Sunday.
Amherst Issue 20: Issue 20 calls for the decriminalization of misdemeanor marijuana penalties, reducing them to $0 in a new city ordinance. Late last week, the Amherst Police Department came out against the ordinance on Facebook, saying it "simply does not make sense."
Hunting Valley Issue 42/Orange School Board: Our Mark Naymik reported last week that a special property tax break for residents of the Village of Hunting Valley, which was shot down by Gov. Mike DeWine earlier this year, is still being discussed by state lawmakers.
If the village's voters pass Issue 42 on Tuesday, which authorizes an additional levy of taxes for the purpose of maintaining, repairing, and constructing roads and bridges, the matter might be settled.
The Orange City School District has said it would have lost $5.8 million under the tax break provision that was vetoed by Gov. DeWine. Amid the controversy, three candidates are running for two seats on the Orange City School District Board of Education. Incumbent Board President Beth Wilson-Fish and Board member Melanie Weltman will be facing Dr. Meredith Bond, who has stated her opposition the proposed property tax reduction.