Ward 12 City Council Candidate Survey

Ward 12 City Council Candidate Survey

(Plain Press, November 2021) The three community newspapers that serve areas of Ward 12 – Neighborhood News, Tremonster and the Plain Press — collaborated in creating this survey. The survey questions were asked of Rebecca Maurer and Anthony Brancatelli, the top two finishers in the City Council Primary Election. They will face each other in the General Election on November 2nd.  There were 2090 votes cast in the Primary Election for four Ward 12 city council candidates. Brancatelli, the incumbent, came in first with 960 votes, or 45.93% of the votes cast. Maurer came in second with 882 votes, or 42.2% of the votes cast. 

Candidate Question #1 [Neighborhood News]: What is your personal and professional background? How does this qualify you to represent Ward 12?

Rebecca Maurer: I’m a lawyer with a track record of work from my block, to the ward, to City Hall. My website has a full list of my work, but two parts of my background that I’m proud of are: (1) working as Ward Leader since 2018, helping to get out the vote across all Ward 12 neighborhoods — Old Brooklyn, Slavic Village, Brooklyn Centre, and Tremont; (2) serving as an attorney for a community group that successfully pushed Cleveland City Council to pass a law protecting children from lead poisoning. This work has prepared me to represent our neighborhoods and serve on City Council. 

Anthony Brancatelli: Born/raised in Ward 12, I have experience as a commercial finance auditor, 17 years as Executive of Director of Slavic Village Dev., and 16 years as a legislator, also serving on many community-based boards/clubs. I am a knowledgeable and respected advocate for our residents, supporting safety improvements, community/resident/school engagement, infrastructure improvements, recreation amenities, land reuse, housing initiatives and business/job creation. I want to continue serving on Council and related boards to move current initiatives forward and support future initiatives, recognizing Ward 12 and Cleveland as a vital part of the region. 

Candidate Question #2 [Neighborhood News]: Do you support diverting public safety funds from the police department to other departments and services?

Rebecca Maurer: Absolutely not. In the midst of a rise in homicide and gun violence rates in Cleveland, we should not divert funds away from public safety. I do support spending our money within the umbrella of public safety on violence prevention in addition to police. We cannot police our way out of the current crisis — and we’ve tried. We have one of the highest numbers of police officers per capita of any city in the country and yet we still have our current problems. My top priority is making sure we have an effective public safety budget that truly prevents violence and makes us safe.

Anthony Brancatelli: I do not support diverting funds from the police; I do support increasing social initiatives that build strong foundations for our youth and adults. Increasing street level policing has been shown to deter crime and constituents are asking for this. We have added millions in funding to other divisions and have created the Office of Prevention, Intervention, and Opportunity for Youth and Young Adults to offer support to all residents and increase the quality of life through access and training. New programming: hands-on STEM workshops, arts training, ACT/SAT prep, internships, apprenticeships, GED prep, job placement assistance and more. 

Candidate Question #3 [Neighborhood News]: Do you support the charter amendment on the November ballot that would establish a civilian police review board?

Rebecca Maurer: We need to do a lot to improve public safety: investing in violence prevention, decreasing police response times, and rebuilding the broken trust between residents and the police. That’s why I support Issue 24. Even if there may be portions we have to iterate on in the years ahead, it’s a step in the right direction to add a civilian police review board. Some people are opposing Issue 24 because of the improvements made since the Consent Decree. That’s actually a great reason to support Issue 24, because it will make permanent the improvements we’ve seen and makes sure we won’t slide backwards when the Consent Decree ends in 2022. 

Anthony Brancatelli: I strongly oppose Issue 24. Positive changes have been made via the Consent Decree and the data reflects this. My Concerns: Issue 24 establishes an unelected, untrained group of 13 residents as a Community Police Commission that would have final authority over disciplining police officers, police policies, applications/examinations for police recruits, procedures and training for police officers and would also have access to unredacted files. There will be no checks and balances over their million+ dollar budget and theirs is the ultimate power with no recourse against their actions, stripping power from Civil Service and the Law Director.

Candidate Question #4 [Neighborhood News]: How has the principal of racial equity informed your career?

Rebecca Maurer: We are one of the most segregated cities in America — and we are also one of the poorest. Segregation was planned and enforced through systems like the 1940s “redlining” maps. Today we still see inequalities like internet access along those same lines. Your zip code, and your race determine so much of your life here in Cleveland. That’s why much of my legal career has been driven by a pursuit racial equity and I plan to bring those same skills with me to City Hall. In an area as diverse as Ward 12, our neighbors deserve nothing less. 

Anthony Brancatelli: Growing up in Slavic Village we always had growing diversity in our schools and our community, I experienced it firsthand as a lifelong resident. I lived through the advent of busing and saw/heard the detractors. Racial equity needs to continue to be addressed in education, employment, housing, etc. I am proud of my accomplishments while on City Council and while on various Boards and Commissions. I have supported legislation on fair housing, domestic registry, employment protections, housing non-discrimination and public accommodations. I continue to require MBE/FBE and living wage requirements on projects receiving City benefits. 

Candidate Question #5 [The Tremonster, Rich Weiss]: Cleveland Council’s 2013 Ward redistricting placed four streets from the Tremont neighborhood in Ward 12 with Slavic Village and Old Brooklyn–how will you make sure resident needs on these four Tremont streets are addressed as attentively as Tremont residents on streets making up much larger portions of Ward 3 and Ward 14 from their representatives?

Rebecca Maurer: Well, first and foremost, I would continue to canvass and talk with residents across Holmden, Buhrer, and Rowley area, as I have done during my campaign. I would also maintain a strong connection to the HBR-MCC block club and Tremont West. But between 2021 and 2025 we also have a chance to re-draw the lines when City Council shrinks from 17 members to 15 because of the 2020 census results. I do not believe that the way the lines are drawn are currently fair — for exactly the reasons you describe. I would work hard to make sure slices of neighborhoods like HBR are not separated into other wards. 

Anthony Brancatelli: The 11 streets in Tremont that are part of Ward 12 form a great neighborhood. There is a dynamic energy in the residents and businesses in that area. My success in serving this portion of Ward 12 is well documented in action and results. Bringing resources of over a million dollars in paving streets such as Clark, W. 14, Holmden, W. 11 or supporting existing businesses such as Clark Bar and Rowley Inn or helping new businesses like Urban Orchid as well as new affordable housing with the Land Trust are examples of what has been accomplished. I serve this portion of Ward 12 with the same energy as all parts of our community. 

Candidate Question #6 [The Tremonster]: We have reported on the receding of block club influence compared to developers in other areas of Tremont–can you help rebalance this relationship in a way that empowers residents to have more influence over how Ward 12’s Tremont blocks develop?

Rebecca Maurer: Ward 12 is unique because you have neighborhoods with very different block club systems. Some, like in Slavic Village, have block clubs with no formal development approval. Others, like Brooklyn Centre, have no formal block clubs. Tremont has block clubs that previously had very strong control over development approvals in their respective areas. I would absolutely respect the rights of HBR-MCC to approve any development in their area. But, as in all of Ward 12 areas, I want to expand the accessibility and attendance of the block clubs so they can be seen as legitimate representatives of their areas.

Anthony Brancatelli: I am proud of my background in Community Organizing previously as a board member of various CDC’s for over a decade then as an Executive Director with 17 years of experience. Growing up in Ward 12 taught me to appreciate the power of resident engagement. I continue to regularly attend block club and civic meetings to support residents and gauge public interest and opinion My proven history in Tremont and throughout Ward 12 is to place residents first, convening meetings, soliciting public input, and supporting our local CDC’s both financially and legislatively. I have the experience, respect, and knowledge at City Hall to empower our residents.

Candidate Question #7 [The Tremonster]: As residents of the city’s core, are we entitled to the same peaceful enjoyment of our homes as suburbanites, or should we expect the noise disruption of motorcycles, dirt bikes, ATVs, and new sound systems to continue increasing exponentially with their popularity?

Rebecca Maurer:  As I write this, I was just woken up by an ATV on my street early this morning, so this issue is close to home for me as it does for many Ward 12 residents. ATVs and motorcycles cannot take over our streets. We all know that living in a city is different from living in the country, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t require the appropriate, respectful use of sound systems and dangerous ATVs.

Anthony Brancatelli: This issue involves public safety for pedestrians and drivers, due to the often-reckless driving of the dirt bikes and ATVs. Police can legally run a “live stop” on someone found operating a dirt bike and impound any uninsured or unregistered vehicle, any being operated by someone without a license. Most of the vehicles are ineligible for registration and end up being taken away. Many of the impounded vehicles are stolen, which can add charges. We have also had some good outcomes from large-scale enforcement events in neighborhoods I support the new Mayor taking a tougher stance on this illegal activity and using more police enforcement. 

Candidate Question #8 [The Tremonster]: Our reporting followed FirstEnergy sub-contractors as they maimed and destroyed our remaining Tremont trees wherever branches neared power lines–will you prioritize, value, and replace our tree canopy in Ward 12?

Rebecca Maurer: Hell yes.

Anthony Brancatelli: As Chairman of the Development, Planning and Sustainability Committee I fully support The Cleveland Tree Coalition as a collaborative group of public, private, and community stakeholders that have partnered with the City of Cleveland to rebuild our urban forest. The coalition is striving to create a healthy, vibrant, sustainable, and equitable urban forest by working collaboratively to implement the Cleveland Tree Plan. I continue to personally plant trees throughout Ward 12 each year and have lobbied/supported and approved 10 million dollars of our City budget to plant new trees throughout the City of Cleveland over the next decade. 

Candidate Question #9a [Plain Press, Chuck Hoven]: Which of the following options is in your view the best use of public resources? Floating bonds backed by tax dollars to repair and upgrade downtown stadiums and arenas. Floating bonds backed by tax dollars to repair homes and build new homes for low-income Clevelanders.

Please explain your answer to question #9a.

Rebecca Maurer: We have hundreds of millions of dollars of deferred maintenance on Cleveland’s houses. Investing in Cleveland’s housing stock is one of the defining challenges of the next 10 years. I absolutely would take every opportunity to make sure homeowners can invest in their properties. 

Anthony Brancatelli: I have supported and legislated the Neighborhood Transformation Initiative (NTI) leveraging 25 million in City Bonds and an additional 40 million in bank and philanthropic funds that are strategically targeted towards residential and workforce training programs. By deploying new tools, programs, and resources, NTI aims to provide equitable and sustainable opportunities to build wealth and stabilize neighborhoods, to build communities where all residents benefit. The goal of NTI is to invest in disadvantaged neighborhoods just outside growth zones and encourage the private market to return to these areas without the need of public incentives

Candidate Question #10 [Plain Press]: The City of Cleveland receives some payroll tax revenue from recipients of its 15-year tax abatements. Other entities that rely on property tax revenue receive nothing for 15 years. Would you support legislation to require the City of Cleveland to use money from its general fund to compensate the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, the Cleveland Public Library, the Cleveland MetroParks and Cuyahoga County on an annual basis for their share of the property taxes for all current and future tax abatements? Why or why not?

Rebecca Maurer: I would absolutely support a change to Cleveland’s tax abatement policy, because right now it is favoring some of our wealthiest residents who buy new properties for $300,000+ dollars, while leaving our long-term residents out in the cold with increased property taxes. Given the ways that the MetroParks and the County are funded separately from the city, I don’t think I can give a blanket yes to the above policy proposal, especially for past tax abatements. But I will absolutely commit to changes in the abatement system. 

Anthony Brancatelli: I support the study led by the nationally recognized Reinvestment Fund with assistance from Greater Ohio Policy Center, PFM Group Consulting, Neighborhood Connections and Leverage Point who recommended: • Continue to offer a tax abatement for residential properties tied to green construction as a productive tool for encouraging new development that both retains existing residents and helps attract new residents to the city. • Implement a “but-for” test that requires a determination that the activity that qualifies for an abatement would not occur without the incentive. • Establish a framework for community benefits agreements (CBAs) 

Candidate Question #11a [Plain Press]: Which in your view is the best use of City of Cleveland Parking Tax Revenue? Please choose – A or B

  1. Funding repairs and improvements to downtown stadiums and arenas 
  2. Providing free bus passes to Cleveland residents who are transit dependent

Candidate Question #11b [Plain Press]: Please explain your answer to question 11a.

I love and respect the dignity of Clevelanders and believe that better public transit is one of the best ways we can help our neighbors. I love and respect Cleveland’s sports teams — but not as much as our people. So, this is an easy answer – B.

Anthony Brancatelli: The budget includes about $670 million for spending in the general fund. Parking revenue is part of the General Fund. It includes money for four police cadet classes and maintains city services this year. The plan includes: $1 million toward a “MIDDLE NEIGHBORHOODS” initiative to stimulate investment in parts of the city that are adjacent to suburban communities before they deteriorate. It also includes $2.125 million total to continue a program that helps seniors with home repairs. Additional local projects from previous years have included park improvements, small street repairs and the development of neighborhood WiFi access. 

Candidate Question #12a [Plain Press]: If you support increasing city funding for public health measures, what areas related to public health need more resources?

Rebecca Maurer: I am biased because I’ve been passionate about lead-safe housing for years, but I truly believe preventing lead poisoning is one of the best ways we can improve Cleveland for generations to come. We have lead poisoning rates 2x higher than Flint, Michigan. For every child exposed to lead, we know that child is less likely to achieve academically and more likely to end up in the criminal justice system. Committing money and resources to make Cleveland lead safe is critical. 

Anthony Brancatelli: I support investment in the 22 recreation centers transitioning to become Neighborhood Resource & Recreation Centers (NRRC) This shift includes a holistic plan to connect youth, adults, and seniors to center-based employment service, educational advancement, and improved health services. It provides programming that not only strengthens our neighborhoods, but also addresses the root cause of violence and toxic stress in our communities. In addition to traditional recreational activities, NRRCs provide programming and resources such as educational options and career preparation. These programs will impact our residents and promote wellness. 

Candidate Question #12b [Plain Press]: If you had to cut other areas of the city budget to provide these public health resources, what would you cut?

Rebecca Maurer: We have many partners at the table through the Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition and we know that there are many funding sources other than Cleveland’s General Fund. For instance, Medicaid has increasingly been interested in funding lead safe home repairs because it means fewer Medicaid dollars spent on healthcare for poisoned kids. 

Anthony Brancatelli: There are no areas in our City Budget that would need cutting at this time to support the goals that I have outlined since we have already allocated additional funding to carry out the above initiatives. I also think the pandemic has shown that we need to be able to serve our residents with door-to-door services (vaccinations, etc.)

Candidate Question #12c [Plain Press]: If you do not support increasing funding for public health, explain why?

Rebecca Maurer: N/A

Anthony Brancatelli: I have and will continue to support increase funding for Public Health initiatives to include the millions we have already raised for lead abatement, education, and outreach. I continue to be a champion to eliminate lead poisoning in our homes as well as other environmental conditions that are hazardous to our residents.

Candidate Question #13 [Plain Press]: As a City Council Representative what steps can you take to assure that the administration enforces and implements ordinances passed by City Council (For example, if the administration failed to enforce City Council’s green screening requirement for a shopping strip adjacent to a residential neighborhood, what would you do to assure compliance)?

Rebecca Maurer: I think there needs to be a twofold approach to ensuring enforcement. First, when crafting legislation, Council must build in far more robust enforcement language — language that has teeth. Second, I believe Council must provide oversight of the administration, specifically, Council, when appropriate, should utilize its subpoena power granted under the City’s Charter — this is a critical role that Council has largely ignored in recent years. 

Anthony Brancatelli: Ordinances should be followed. Using your example: I have passed laws governing setbacks and screening regulations and helped enforce those codes. As a community advocate, I have worked closely with Building Inspectors, the Law Department, and our prosecutors to assure compliance. I am proud to have received numerous awards for my public service such as the Community Shares “Eleanor Gerson Leadership in Social Justice’” County Prosecutor “Stephanie Tubbs Jones Award for Excellence in Public Service,” ESOP’s “Inez Tillman Killingsworth Community Leadership Award.” This recognition reflects my advocacy to hold the Administration accountable. 

Candidate Question #14 [Neighborhood News]: What aspect of local government is most important to you?

Rebecca Maurer: I care about making sure Clevelanders are safe and have the bread-and-butter city services they deserve. I also care deeply about re-engaging Clevelanders with their local government and making them trust that their participation in City Council meetings and block clubs will improve their quality of life. 

Anthony Brancatelli: Ward 12 has 5 distinct areas: Old Brooklyn, Tremont, Brooklyn Centre, Slavic Village and the Industrial Valley. Each area has neighborhoods with specific needs. The aspect that is most important to me is understanding the unique and common issues in each of the neighborhoods by working with residents and businesses and to resolve those concerns through good policy, legislation, and budgeting locally, and also representing our neighborhoods outside of the city to raise resources and awareness. For example, I have testified in Congress to fight predatory lending and remove blighted housing conditions which helped raise millions in relief.

Candidate Question #15 [Neighborhood News]: What is your vision for economic development in Ward 12?

Rebecca Maurer: Our economic development goals should be focused on creating quality jobs for city residents, and safe, healthy neighborhoods. We have many tools at our disposal to propel that work, such as grants, loans, and tax breaks. But I believe Cleveland must be more strategic and focused when providing incentives. We need to focus on housing rehab, transit, and public internet. These are investments that can lower household costs, employ current residents, and build a city of the future. Additionally, we must also build a local economy that is more resilient and less impacted by downturns in the national or global economy or pandemic conditions.

Anthony Brancatelli: I’ll continue to help retain businesses and recruit new businesses in Ward 12, working with our local CDCs and financial institutions to identify gap financing and resources needed to grow our economic base and stabilize small businesses. My efforts were recently recognized when I received the International Economic Development Council Leadership Award for Public Service. This award recognizes an elected official who has served as a committed advocate for economic development for at least 10 years in the public sector and displayed dedication and commitment to their constituency as a leader and advocate for economic development.

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