By Jerry Masek
There are 22,300 persons in Ward 17. New City Councilman Charles Slife looks forward to meeting each of them― but not all at once. Slife, 32, plans to do “Meet and Greet” events throughout the ward.
Communications is key
“Communications is my number one priority,” Slife says. “It’s important that residents know they are being represented. I want to listen to them. They call because an issue is important to them, so it’s important to me, as well.”
This month, Slife is mailing an introductory flier to all residents. He has a work phone at City Hall, an e-mail address, and a Facebook page. He uses the hyper-local social media of Next Door, and is trying to get access to all Ward 17 neighborhoods.
“I want to be an advocate for people who have issues with city services,” he says. “I will be engaged. It’s important to show people how their tax dollars are being used.”
The other half of being a city councilman is dealing with public policy. Council meets on Monday evenings at City Hall. Slife is vice chair of the Transportation Committee, which has oversight of Hopkins International Airport. He represents City Council on the Planning Commission, and serves on committees for:
- Planning & Sustainability
- Workforce & Community Benefits
Slife wants to encourage development and create more jobs in Ward 17.
“I know how things are done in other cities, and I want to bring some ‘best practices’ to Cleveland. Let’s make this area the best it can be. Ward 17 has a lot of opportunities for development, and there is a strong sense of community in our neighborhoods.”
Ties to West Park
Slife has lived in West Park for 5 years, but his family has deep roots on the West Side and Lakewood. He and his wife, Holly, attend St. Marks Church, and live on Montrose Avenue with their young son. He previously served on the board of the Kamms’s Corners Development Corp., now known as West Park Kamm’s Neighborhood Development.
Slife has a master’s of public administration in urban economic development. His previous work with the City of Cleveland and The Austen Company has given him experience in economic development, real estate, and urban planning projects; workforce development; attracting business; remediating brownfields; design review, and zoning regulations.
This is the second time in recent years that West Park residents have an appointed councilman. In December 1996, David McGuirk resigned and Council appointed Michael Dolan. Martin Keane served from 2008 to 2019. When he resigned on Nov. 25, he recommended that Council appoint Slife.
Slife said he was surprised when Keane “drafted” him, but now he is determined to make a difference in West Park.
Slife will serve Keane’s unexpired term. He faces election to a four-year term in November 2021.
Council members are paid $83,000 annually. Issues on the ballot March 17 would reduce both the salary and the number of wards in the city. Slife opposes both measures.