Oct. 19, 2021 --
For the first time in the City of Cleveland Heights history, a Mayor will be elected as top city leader as the model of government shifts away from an appointed city-manager based model. The new government model creates an elected mayor-led executive branch of the city government balanced by an elected city council-based legislative branch.
Thanks to Dr. Carmen Daniel, the Heights High Gear-Up program
held a forum for all 11th graders and MSAN students from all grades with both Mayoral candidates: Kahlil Seren and Barbara Danforth. More than 250 students gathered in the historic Dina Rees Evans Performing Arts Center as 11th grader Taylor Evans moderated an informative discussion. Evans led the discussion with prepared questions that students researched ahead of the event. Evans said, “I volunteered today because it was a great opportunity to meet the candidates, and it’s better for a student to be the one to ask our questions.”
Danforth highlighted her experience as an attorney, as the Chief Prosecutor for the City of Cleveland and former CEO of two major non-profit organizations. Seren highlighted his elected official experience on Cleveland Heights City Council, as Vice-Mayor, and his professional Cuyahoga County-level work transitioning to a new form of government there, including creating new departments and implementing large-scale programs.
Select students were able to ask additional questions in a smaller group discussing property taxes and economic development including the fate of the park space at Meadowbrook & Lee Rd. Students raised challenging and reflective questions about diversity, equity and inclusion for all Cleveland Heights residents. Seren emphasized his own life experiences demonstrating the need for intersectionality, acknowledging layers of identity that people hold. Danforth emphasized working together across diverse groups in the city.
“The conversation was sophisticated and complex -- and everyone got a real life, real time civics lesson,” said Julianna Johnston Senturia, alumna and executive director of Heights Schools Foundation
.Nate Williams, MSAN educator
said, “We have to teach our students from a young age that local elections matter! National elections get a lot of attention, but local matters directly. One of these people will make policies that directly matter for them. Our students will be able to vote soon, some now, so this is good practice.”
Dr Daniel added, “this is important for students to participate in because students are an important part of this community.”