As I’ve lived in Lakewood and campaigned for a Lakewood City Council At-Large seat, I’ve noticed two things. One, the current At-Large Council is beleaguered, tired, and behind-the-times. Two, there are several hot-button issues in Lakewood, Ohio that residents are very passionate about.
Here are my takes on those issues.
Brian Taubman’s Takes on the Hot-Button Issues in Lakewood, Ohio
The Opioid Epidemic
While the incumbents are patting themselves on the back for initiating Project SOAR, I continue to remind our citizens that the opioid epidemic is not new, and that Lakewood has been a leader in heroin overdoses in Cuyahoga County for multiple years, all under the current council’s watch. Project SOAR is a good start, but that fact that it’s just being rolled out now is unacceptable. And it’s not enough!
We cannot just react after an individual is at their worst, or tries to kill themselves, or is self-treating for a mental health disease. If we are only counseling people at a hospital or in their homes after the fact, then we are failing our community. Those in need should have immediate access to an addiction counselor or social worker. We should ensure treatment on demand while working towards a 24/7 treatment center for addiction. Lakewood prides itself on being a community filled with good neighbors, let’s start proving that by setting up a community advisory committee and developing a standardized good neighbor agreement.
Finally, we need to allow the sale and cultivation of medical marijuana in Lakewood to give people a better alternative to opioids — and do it in a way that’s not a political cash grab.
Helping Our Seniors and Youth
A reoccurring question I’ve heard is, what can Lakewood do to help our aging population? First and foremost, we need to have an open dialogue and ask our seniors what we can do to help them! We can no longer ignore our community’s aging population. We need to make sure transportation is readily available for all seniors, and that our sidewalks are always clear and walkable.
We also need to pursue a senior center that will double as a youth center and daycare facility and hold joint activities for all ages. Our parks and pools need improvements as well. At the same time, we need to implement a youth mentoring program to help mold the future of Lakewood. By helping our kids stay focused, driven, and motivated, we will help our city continue to grow and thrive.
BSL — Breed Specific Legislation
This is one of the hottest of the hot-button issues in Lakewood, Ohio, and one that really separates the incumbents from the challengers. Most of the current council is for Lakewood’s BSL remaining intact. Several citizens are against it. I agree with the citizens.
Here are a few stats to consider. You are more likely to die from a lightning strike than a dog bite. You are more likely to die from legal execution than a dog bite. You are more likely to die from a hot dog than a dog bite. But besides all that, BSL is just discriminatory and wrong. The CDC, ABA, Humane Society, AKC, and American Veterinary Medical Association all support ending BSL.
The only things that BSL is accomplishing in Lakewood are the killing of innocent dogs and the displacement of current and potential residents who look for other places to lives — places that accept their canine family members. Our pet-friendly businesses are negatively affected too.
There are a variety of factors that affect a dog’s tendency towards aggression, such as heredity, early experience, socialization, training, sex, and reproductive status. We need to have a breed-neutral dog ordinance like the one Cleveland enacted a few years ago. When I’m elected, we will have a program in place that holds all dogs and owners accountable, regardless of the breed of the dog. Lakewood will become the truly welcoming and open city our citizens want it to be.
The Economy and Housing Market
As we all know, we lost our main community anchor when we lost the hospital, and shortly after that, we lost another major employer in New York Life Insurance, due to not having office space suitable to their needs. The City of Lakewood continued its downward trend when they decided to have a moratorium on medical marijuana. This freeze cost the city an opportunity to have a cultivator paying taxes and employing people in our city. The moratorium has recently been lifted, but the fees are restrictive and are likely to lead dispensaries to look elsewhere. The addition of dispensary could be a major revenue generator, while also helping to reduce the opioid epidemic that is crippling our city.
Medical marijuana is, of course, not the only way to bring in revenue. So what has our council done to drive new economic opportunities? Nothing, unfortunately. They haven’t addressed our aging infrastructure or done anything to attract businesses to our city. Forty-five percent of our income taxes come from people who work in Lakewood — this number needs to be higher. Eighty-five percent of our citizens work outside the city — this number needs to be lower.
We need to pursue new businesses opportunities, instead of taking vacant land and building townhomes. We need modern office space and mixed-use development, especially with the lack of office space in downtown Cleveland. We need to pursue another large employer to move to our city to be the anchor our community so desperately needs.
Lakewood is one of the most walkable cities in Ohio — it’s part of what makes our community so great. But when winter hits, we put the burden of snow removal on our residents. I propose a sidewalk snow plow that will be used on major intersections and around senior centers. Every time I bring this up, I’m told this exists and is used around city hall. Which is funny, because no one has ever seen it. Also, I propose street snow angels who would help make sure sidewalks are clear so our kids and other citizens can traverse throughout our city during the winter.
Another reoccurring question that’s often brought up centers around the recent addition of new bike lanes on Clifton and Warren. Again, it’s great that Lakewood is walkable and bikeable, but when it came to these bike lanes, council really dropped the ball. Instead of informing the public or even asking the public if they approved of their location, they made another decision without informing the community. What you have in return are a lot of angry citizens, accidents, and confusion. All of this could be have avoided if the city simply communicated with their citizens. When I’m elected, I will be open, transparent, and always available.
As I mentioned, current communication between council and constituents is close to non-existent. This absolutely must change. The community should be involved in every decision; no more closed-door meetings. Conflicts of interest must be disclosed. We need to set up an email distribution list informing our 50,000 plus citizens of events and council meetings. If something like this already existed, maybe our largest employer would still be in Lakewood.
I plan to hold town halls across our city throughout the year, informing the public about issues and upcoming legislation. I will also hold virtual town halls on Twitter and Facebook. I will be open and honest when elected into office.
Under the watch of our incumbents, crime has remained stagnant in some aspects and risen in other aspects. There has not been an individualized plan to reduce crime in Lakewood. Nothing has been proposed.
I’m proposing zone and foot patrols in hot spots around Lakewood. This increase of police coverage will deter crime, but we also need to increase neighborhood watch groups and install cameras in high crime areas. We also need to continue to be vigilant with body cameras and police accountability.
Lakewood is green, but we could be a lot greener. When I’m elected, I’ll implement a three-step environmental plan that will make out city more sustainable and reliant on renewable energy.
Let’s Move Lakewood Forward, Together.
I appreciate the opportunity to earn your vote, and I look forward to seeing you around Lakewood! Want to talk about the issues? I welcome you to contact me at any time. Shoot me an email here, call or text me at 216-346-1787, or find me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.