Chris Ronanye for County Executive

Chris' Plan for a

Healthy Cuyahoga County

Chris' Plan for a

Healthy Cuyahoga County

Chris' Plan for a

Healthy Cuyahoga County

The Change We Need

In Cuyahoga County, we take pride in where we live. And there’s a lot to be proud of, from our sports teams to our world-class cultural institutions, our lakefront and our parks, and the neighborhoods that we call home. Chris Ronayne has called Cuyahoga County home for more than 40 years and understands what makes our county such a special place to live. He knows that Cuyahoga contains tremendous potential, but it needs the type of effective leadership that has been lacking in our county for decades.

 

Cuyahoga County needs a fresh start and a chance to get back on track. Our County is falling behind similar regions throughout Ohio and the country as a whole: We have a soft economy, violent crime, a high tax burden, harmful racial disparities, stagnant incomes, and concentrated poverty. Our county government has not met the expectations of its residents, and it’s time for a change.

 

Chris Ronayne will make that change. He is not a politician. As Cleveland’s former planning director, chief development officer, and chief of staff, as well as Chair of the Port of Cleveland, and President of University Circle Inc., he’s led some of Northeast Ohio’s most impactful economic development and community improvement efforts. He will bring that experience to County government. Click here to read the full plan.

Strengthen Our Workforce, Economy; Create Real Opportunity for All

Cuyahoga County is in a decades-long period of economic stagnation. Since the beginning of the 21st Century, Cuyahoga County has lost both jobs and population. But the drop in employment has been steeper than our population loss. Income inequality is growing, further plunging our County into a land of the “have and have nots”, with one key measure of inequality growing by 20 percent since 2010. Our jobs have become geographically dispersed and difficult to access, especially for those living in high-poverty neighborhoods. In our region, the median income of a white resident is twice that of a Black resident, and a Black resident is 1.7 times as likely to be living in poverty as a white resident. We must overcome the historical legacies that have crippled our neighborhoods and cut off avenues of opportunity.

Chris will execute an inclusive countywide economic development program, one that has all of our backs. At University Circle, he led one of the state’s fastest-growing employment centers and led programs that benefited small businesses, including dozens of minority owned businesses. Chris has the experience to bring employers, educators, and labor together in a shared mission to expand good jobs in our county. Our economic future depends on how well we build on our economic strengths and address our weaknesses.

Protect & Leverage Our Lakefront, Rivers, and Our Parks to Promote a High Quality-of-life

When it comes to choosing a location for a business expansion or relocation, taxes are only one factor that a CEO may consider. A region’s quality of life is just as important, if not more so, than corporate tax rates. Access to nature and recreation, clean water and air, green neighborhoods, and safe streets all contribute to a high quality of life, but are too often overlooked as part of a comprehensive economic development strategy.

Improve Health, Human Services, Transportation Access and Housing for Kids, Seniors, and Families

Cuyahoga County is unfortunately faced with wide disparities in health, wealth, and wellbeing. The County’s poverty rate is higher than the national average, as is its infant mortality rate. At the same time, certain Cuyahoga communities are among the wealthiest in the state, and saw their incomes and wealth grow substantially over the past decade. Meanwhile, other areas of the County struggle with blight and are in dire need of investment.

 

Disparities are inter-related with historical racial and injustices and discrimination. Black residents are have higher rates of infant mortality and are more likely to live in poverty, to live in a high-crime neighborhood, and to be stuck in low-income occupations. Chris pledges to incorporate a racial justice lens to every program, policy, or practice in County government. It begins with appointing a diverse leadership team, and working with community leaders to implement grass-roots solutions to issues facing residents at the neighborhood level.

Reduce Crime and Violence. Increase Equitable Justice for All.

Crime and violence can be reduced with smart, responsive, equitable, accountable law enforcement. Chris will do everything possible to stop illegal guns, drug trafficking, gangs, and violence against the residents of Cuyahoga County. Chris will find, hire, support, and hold accountable the right chief law enforcement officer and deputies, and provide the right support systems to run an equitable, effective, and efficient corrections system and county jail.

Learn more: Strengthen Our Workforce, Economy, and Create Real Opportunity for All 

A Workforce System That Works

 

Right now, Cuyahoga County is beset by two contradictory challenges: high unemployment on the one hand, and employers unable to find workers with the skills they need on the other.

 

This is a challenge that can only be addressed by revamping our workforce development system to: (1) provide basic skills to those seeking to enter the workforce; (2) provide opportunities for “upskilling” and retraining for in-demand occupations with higher wages; and (3) link employers with pools of skilled and willing workers to fill open positions.

 

Our current County workforce system is too complex to navigate, too disjointed and spread out across agencies and providers, too lacking in coordination and direction, and not aligned with the economic needs and challenges faced by Cuyahoga County. As County Executive, Chris’ top priority will be to bring direction and leadership to creating real opportunity for all County residents.

 

1. Strengthen workforce skills for good jobs and higher incomes. Chris Ronayne will reform our workforce system by strengthening partnerships between employers, public education, Tri-C, labor organizations, and large institutions (such as health care and educational institutions). Our programs will match employer needs and provide trainings, internships, and apprenticeships for high-wage, in-demand occupations. We will use data to evaluate what’s working and what isn’t, and seek more flexibility from the state and the federal government to use our funds more effectively. We will do more to reach both businesses and job seekers and make our services more user-friendly, with a customer-oriented approach. As County Executive, Chris Ronayne will:

 

  • Launch a comprehensive effort to prepare our workforce for the Economy of the Future we need to be building here in Cuyahoga County.  This means focusing on these areas at every level of career and workforce preparation, by:

    • Providing tuition-free opportunities for residents to learn new skills in IT, biotechnology, and advanced manufacturing. For example, Montgomery County, Maryland, funded a tuition-free “biotech bootcamp” for displaced workers, based out of Montgomery College. And both Cincinnati and Columbus have partnered with Per Scholas, a non-profit providing IT training and education, to offer tuition-free courses and accreditation. Chris will expand opportunities for low-cost and no-cost training programs in high-demand fields like IT and biotech.

    • Launching career pathways for STEAM occupations in middle school. When it comes to getting students ready for high-wage occupations in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM), the benefit of engaging them early in their education is becoming more apparent. Many school districts have established STEAM programs in their middle schools. Chris will engage with local school districts to expand STEAM education programs in middle schools.

    • Embedding STEAM programs for high school students within or nearby health, research, and manufacturing institutions and businesses. Students benefit from real-world experience and proximity to the professionals and business owners doing innovative work in STEM fields. One successful model is the partnership between the Lincoln-West School of Science and Health and MetroHealth, in which students receive real-world education in a healthcare setting—MetroHealth’s main campus on West 25th Street.
       

  • Better align and coordinate between all of the stakeholders in the workforce development ecosystem. There is a broad array of programs from a diverse set of providers, including County agencies, Tri-C, philanthropic organizations, labor organizations, employers, and others. While we are lucky to have so much activity in this space, our County would be better served if all programs offered aligned with strategic goals informed by real-time data. As County Executive, Chris will bring together all providers to discuss the County’s strategic goals and to build understanding about how programs may be aligned. Further, the County will leverage philanthropic contributions to our County’s workforce needs by matching funds to charitable programs that fulfill predefined needs and that align with the County’s workforce development priorities.
     

  • Continuously evaluate and measure our progress, and identify where we are failing. To determine funding priorities, to design and refine programs, and to maximize impact, we must collect data and evaluate outcomes. Chris will guide the Workforce Development Board to develop meaningful metrics to evaluate our programs and determine where we get the best return on investment. Chris will work with the Mayor of Cleveland to ensure that the agency publishes an annual report of findings.
     

  • Improve outreach to job seekers to help them better access County resources. Cuyahoga County must do better at getting the word out about existing opportunities for residents to increase their skills and find in-demand, higher wage jobs. Too few residents know about what is offered, and too many of our clients view interaction with our agencies as a bureaucratic chore, rather than a true opportunity for advancement and self-sufficiency. Engaging with our workforce programs shouldn’t feel like going to the BMV. Chris will ensure that our workforce system has a customer-oriented approach, and that programs are accessible through an easy-to-use website. Chris will also bring the job center directly to communities with a Mobile Workforce Unit on wheels that will travel across the County providing resources to residents.
     

  • Ensure that everyone can access the County’s career-boosting services by providing supports like child care and transportation to those in training and continuing education programs. Those seeking employment may be held back by a lack of resources that would allow them to participate in trainings, internships, on-the-job training, or continuing education. Chris will boost supports to these job seekers, including transportation (RTA passes or rideshare vouchers), clothing, child care, and income supports. Funds will be made up partly through County dollars, partly through increased flexibility for use of federal funds, and through philanthropic and private-sector partnerships.
     

  • Encourage businesses receiving County funds to tap into the pool of qualified workers in our workforce system. Cuyahoga businesses that receive tax breaks, loans and grants, or government contracts from the County should be either incentivized to recruit workers from our workforce development ecosystem. As County Executive, Chris will require those businesses (and non-profits) that receive government contracts or subsidies to recruit employees from among our Job Center clients.
     

  • Use federal funds flexibly to meet our County’s needs. Our workforce programs are supported by federal funds, and the federal government sets the rules for how these funds may be used. However, states have requested and been granted flexibility in how they use these funds via a waiver. Chris will work with state leaders and our congressional delegation to seek waivers that would allow the County to extend the time period allowed for training, to increase reimbursement for businesses providing on-the-job training, and to support more transitional jobs.

2. Achieve a “living wage plus” so living standards reflect the dignity of work for more residents. Chris will establish a new target wage for all County-supported jobs and economic development programs of $23 an hour, plus benefits. This target will inform our decisions to provide business assistance as well as inform our workforce development programs, which will be directed to create career pathways to occupations that earn the living wage-plus.

 

3. Provide a strong start for a strong future. To prepare our children for great futures, we must give them the best possible strong start. That means bringing high quality, universal Pre-K opportunity to all 3 and 4-year-olds in Cuyahoga County. Currently, only a limited number of scholarships are available to children in families with incomes below certain thresholds that reduce the cost of tuition between 33 and 50 percent. Chris will secure funding from government and private sources to increase the number of scholarships and to increase the dollar value of the scholarship. The goal will be to reach a true “universal” Pre-K system within five years. The Ronayne Administration will also add robust summer and after school learning experiences for children and provide wraparound services so that parents can go to work without undue worry.

The Jobs We Need

Chris will create and execute a countywide economic development plan – in partnership with all stakeholders – to take advantage of the unique characteristics of every local community. He will:

 

Build an innovation economy in Cuyahoga County.  There is tremendous energy in our region focused on economic development initiatives, from the Cleveland Innovation Project to start-ups being boosted by JumpStart, Inc., Northeast Ohio’s Manufacturing Growth Advocacy Network, and new patents and spinoff companies coming out of University Hospitals, Cleveland Clinic, and Case Western Reserve University. We have a critical mass of institutions conducting research and development and developing new technologies around University Circle, and a number of firms leading innovation in manufacturing technologies and techniques that can form the basis of a new economy and shared prosperity for all.

 

But as our poverty and unemployment rates suggest, these opportunities are not equally shared or accessible. As County Executive, Chris will use every tool available to provide on-ramps to careers in health, education, and advanced manufacturing. Meanwhile, the County will continue to support the work of the non-profit and philanthropic organizations that are driving economic development initiatives in these innovative industries and sectors.

 

Our County’s educational, health, and research institutions are national leaders in cutting edge technologies. For example, the Lerner Research Institute at the Cleveland Clinic was issued 64 patents and formed three spinoff companies in 2020 alone. Add to that energy ongoing research at University Hospitals, at Case Western University, and the Cleveland FES Center, among others, and there is no doubt a dynamic ecosystem of cutting-edge research and commercialization here in Cuyahoga County.

 

As president at University Circle Inc., Chris Ronayne knows the potential of our “eds and meds” institutions to innovate and create new business opportunities, as well as the potential for these institutions to lead community development initiatives and purchase and contract with local small businesses. Chris is uniquely positioned to bring together these stakeholders to align with the County’s workforce development and community development goals. As County Executive, Chris will:

 

  • Bring together all stakeholders to create a road map for growing a more inclusive eds and meds sector by fostering collaboration, aligning institutional activities around shared goals, and setting targets for community development.

 

  • Partner with private developers and our educational and health institutions to develop more lab space. A dearth of laboratory space is holding back Cuyahoga’s potential to grow businesses and jobs in the life sciences sector. Cuyahoga County will work with the City of Cleveland to identify potential sites for new lab space and assist with site assembly.

 

Nurture small and growing businesses, equitably. Small businesses are the backbone of our County’s economy. But many still struggle with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, from a loss of business to difficulty finding workers, and now to dealing with inflation and supply-chain issues. Small businesses need and deserve our support, and with the right leadership, Cuyahoga’s small businesses can thrive like never before. To do this, Chris will:

 

  • Restore the Division of Employer Resources.

 

  • Add to the Business Growth Lending program, SBA partnerships, and other tools to provide loan capital and reduce start-up barriers to small businesses.

 

  • Maximize local outreach, contracting with, and supplier diversity with an emphasis on small, minority and women-owned businesses.

 

  • Initiate a First Generation program focused on outreach to immigrant entrepreneurs.

 

  • Designate more contracts as “Small Business Set Asides” that level the playing field for the County’s small businesses.

 

  • Connect and where possible require major private enterprises to do business with local small businesses so they can obtain contracts from and become part of the supply chain of large companies doing business in Cuyahoga County.

 

  • Support small and minority or women-owned businesses (MWBEs) by expanding opportunities to win government contracts. Cuyahoga County’s 2020 “Disparity Study” found that less than one percent of prime government contracts went to minority-owned businesses. Since then, the County Council crafted a new policy toward boosting MWBE utilization, including a new department of equity and inclusion. Based on the recommendations of the Disparity Study, it was decided that MWBE participation goals should be set on a contract-by-contract basis. However, the County still needs to have County-wide MWBE procurement goals. Chris will hold his administration accountable for actually making progress in MWBE participation in government contracts, including annual reports of utilization rates and analyses of where the County is falling short. Chris will set a target of 30% of County contract dollars go to MBEs by 2028.

 

  • Bridge the digital divide through public-private partnerships that provide equitable access to skills and technology all across the county. A 2019 survey by the National Digital Inclusion Alliance found that Cleveland is among the “least connected” cities in the nation. A recently announced partnership with PC for People would expand broadband access to 25,000 households, backed by $20 million in County funds. As County Executive, Chris will ensure that this promise is fulfilled, and that advertised download/upload speeds are as advertised. Chris is concerned that the current plan relies heavily on providing wireless hookups to multiple households, and will monitor the program rollout to ensure that our approach does indeed provide reliable service to these households.

Learn more: Protecting our lakefront, rivers, and our parks to promote a high quality-of-life

The Ronayne Administration will attract businesses and employees by making Cuyahoga County a great place to live, work, and play. Chris will protect our natural resources, like protecting the Cuyahoga River and Lake Erie from pollution and stormwater runoff, restore the tree canopy, and make our county more attractive and healthier by building complete streets, greenways, and a countywide bike-friendly street and trail network. He will:​

  • Lead the way on sustainability, livability, and quality of life. We can attract and retain employers by making Cuyahoga County one of the nation’s best places to live, work, and experience. Our region has tremendous potential to enhance our natural and cultural assets, as well as embrace sustainable approaches to housing, transportation, energy, and more. Ohio’s best and brightest want to live in a community that represents stewardship of our natural resources and is leading the fight to address climate change. Cultural amenities enhance the experience of living in Cuyahoga County, and can be a draw for tourists, further growing our economy. And a community that is green and sustainable creates more healthy living conditions for all residents, new job opportunities, and a higher quality of life.

 

  • Maximize our location on Lake Erie, and pursue our potential as the Fresh Water Capital of the Waterbelt. Our location on spectacular Lake Erie is an enormous advantage for attracting talent from high cost, crowded competing communities, and retaining local talent here. As Cleveland’s Planning Director and Board Chair at the Port of Cleveland, Chris gained the experience to make it happen. Taking lessons from the successful Fund for Lake Michigan in the Milwaukee region, Chris will work closely with the Cleveland Water Alliance to build on the potential of the water economy to support nonprofits and businesses that protect water quality, promote green infrastructure, replace lead pipes and reduce storm water runoff. The activities of the Fund for Lake Michigan were responsible for the creation of 822 jobs, $25 million in wages, and $65 million in economic output in its first five years of existence.

 

  • Work with local communities and cultural and recreational organizations to create a cultural, recreational, and wellness amenities inventory and needs assessment, to ensure that all communities have access to culture and recreation, and to identify facilities that are in need of repair and reinvestment.

 

  • Build up our economy by embracing green technologies. There is tremendous potential to create jobs and fight climate change by expanding access to solar panel installations and retrofitting our old buildings to be more energy efficient. Chris will aggressively pursue a strategy to install solar at more County buildings and to conduct energy retrofits at County-owned properties. Chris will support the work of the Solar United Neighbors co-op by bringing together property owners that wish to participate and by providing logistical support, as well as funds for solar installations for homeowners that may not otherwise be able to afford the cost of solar panels. Chris also supports the creation of a County “Green Bank” that could be used to finance solar installations, and has been estimated to have the potential to create hundreds of jobs and double the County’s current solar output.

 

  • Clean up Brownfield sites and get them ready for redevelopment. The State’s Brownfield Remediation Program has up to $350 million available, on a first-come first-serve basis, for Brownfield cleanup, site preparation, and development. Chris will direct the County’s Development Department proactively to identify sites and ensure that the County receives its fair share of state funds.

 

  • Initiate a multi-county Commercial Land Bank. In order to compete, we need a regional strategy to acquiring and preparing large available land parcels for development. That’s how Northeast Ohio can land the next Intel. Chris will bring together partners from around the region to develop a regional land acquisition plan.

 

  • Target federal infrastructure funds on repairing key roads, highways, bridges and bulkheads, as well as work with the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority to upgrade its bus and rail fleets. Our location is an economic strength, but to make it a lasting economic advantage we must maintain and upgrade our transportation system.

 

  • Launch a green infrastructure plan to promote sustainability and protect critical infrastructure against extreme weather events and use state and federal grants toward sustainability projects that will both protect our County and create jobs.

 

  • Partner in future plans to repurpose Burke Lakefront Airport. The City of Cleveland-owned Burke Lakefront Airport has for years experienced a steady decline in the number of takeoffs and landings, and its importance as a transportation facility is now outweighed by its potential for public lakefront access. Chris is ready to be a willing partner in a regional air service delivery plan that improves operations and opens up Burke for new uses.

 

  • Boost our local economy by promoting tourism. Leverage Cuyahoga County’s tourism advantage by building a strategy around our waterfronts, parks, arts, music theater, sports, and culinary scene. Recognizing tourism as a Northeast Ohio growth industry means aligning for job training and economic development. Examples include Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry’s “Choppin’ for Change” program which helps formerly incarcerated individuals train for culinary jobs.

Learn more: Improving services, transportation and housing opportunities

Chris will: 

1. Protect women’s and family health and promoting a woman’s right to choose. Women’s health in Ohio faces a significant setback because of the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. After the Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, Ohio legislators passed a bill criminalizing any abortion after 6 weeks, with no exclusions for incest or rape. Chris Ronayne believes that it is a woman’s right to choose what happens with their own body and will continue to fight for women’s right to choose, for access to safe reproductive services, and to protect women’s health. Chris is committed to doing everything possible to protect the rights, privacy, and health of all residents of Cuyahoga County.

 

As County Executive, Chris will continue to fight for equality, access, and reproductive protection. He will:

 

  • Assemble a Women’s Health Action Team, including medical professionals, reproductive health experts, and those with lived experience.

  • Introduce legislation to County Council to prohibit the use of County government resources or funds to assist or cooperate with any investigation into abortion care.

  • Ensure that abortion care is included in insurance coverage for all County government employees.

  • Institute a travel reimbursement policy for employees who must travel to receive healthcare services that are not available or are restricted within 150 miles of Cuyahoga County.

  • Convene partners across the county to ensure that all Cuyahoga County residents have the necessary funds needed to travel to and receive abortion services unavailable in Ohio.

  • Support an amendment to the Ohio constitution to protect a woman’s right to choose.

 

2. Expand housing and improving community development. Having a safe, affordable place to live is the foundation of family well-being, from health and educational outcomes to economic self-sufficiency. But too many residents of Cuyahoga County live in substandard housing, in unsafe overcrowded conditions, and with housing costs that eat into their monthly budgets to the extent that there is little left over for other necessities. This problem affects renters and homeowners alike, and is a concern heard in all parts of the County.

 

Furthermore, dilapidated housing and abandoned properties dot our landscape, dragging down property values and leading to disinvestment, crime, and the circle of poverty. We’ve made progress in addressing this issue over the past decade, but our progress is uneven, and abandoned homes still burden homeowners that are seeking to create better futures for themselves and their children.

 

Chris knows that the solution to this problem goes beyond pledging an arbitrary number of “new” homes to be created. The true indicator of progress takes into account the “health” of individual blocks, neighborhoods, and communities. Building a new home next to a derelict building only does so much to improve community outcomes. That’s why as County Executive, Chris would take a community approach and evaluate our successes on the neighborhood level. It goes beyond housing, but housing is the foundation.

 

  • Protect long-time senior homeowners from rising property taxes by expanding eligibility for the homestead exemption and increasing its value. Chris will lobby state lawmakers to amend the state’s homestead laws and protect homeowners.

 

  • Give communities the tools and the power to redevelop vacant and abandoned parcels by supporting the expansion of Community Land Trusts. Chris believes that decisions that affect local communities are best made at the grass roots. That’s why he will use funds to build and support new and existing Community Land Trusts to build new homes in neighborhoods across the County. With partners, Chris will oversee the disposition of properties to the land trusts and the County will assist with redevelopment.

 

  • Create a “Community Well-being Indicator” survey to map disparities countywide. Chris will instruct his administration to develop indicators of well-being that track the number of substandard buildings, the number and type of environmental hazards, child health indicators such as asthma and high blood-lead levels, structural fires, traffic injuries, housing affordability, and others. Chris will then use this data to inform where and what investments to make in neighborhoods across the County.

 

  • Develop a five-year affordable housing and neighborhood preservation plan. As president of University Circle Inc. Chris oversaw community development efforts, including the construction and renovation of 2,500 homes. Over 30% of housing in University Circle is qualified as affordable. As County Executive, Chris will obtain commitments from developers, nonprofits, banks, and foundations to expand access to affordable housing by building, renovating, and financing thousands of homes so our private and public housing stock is safe, healthy, and up to standards. Chris will increase opportunities for homeownership by expanding access to down payment assistance, by creating new loan products for families with good incomes but poor credit, and extending funds for home repairs and accessibility improvements.

 

  • Create a Department of Housing and Community development. The department will develop financing programs to assist with the development of new housing, including a revolving loan fund that is replenished by interest payment and development fees. The Department will support CMHA, local CDCs and nonprofit housing providers and increase supports for Community Land Trusts to preserve and build affordable housing. The department will further work with communities in Cuyahoga County to initiate supportive housing programs for persons with disabilities, lead-free housing, flexible zoning needs, and middle-market housing opportunities.

 

  • Combat homelessness by creating new supportive housing beds and preventing evictions. Supportive housing allows those suffering with mental illness or substance abuse to get off the streets and into safe shelter. Only by adding new beds that meet our County’s needs can we get unhoused individuals off the street and into safe housing. Chris will also combat family homelessness by creating an eviction diversion program, which provides mediation between a tenant and landlord before and eviction can be served and provides the opportunity for the tenant to access services and avoid homelessness.

 

2. Improve health and human services.We must improve the delivery, efficiency, and reach of social services. Cuyahoga County is the key provider of health and human services for thousands of vulnerable children, seniors, people with disabilities, and adults in need of health and mental health services. Taxpayers fund health and human services levies that generate $279 million annually. But this levy is already falling behind our true need. Chris can’t and won’t raise property taxes, therefore more effective delivery is needed to better reach our residents. We must reduce response times, better use response teams, increase neighborhood-based services and more to make sure every health and human services has maximum impact on people in need.  Chris will:

 

  • Address conditions at the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court, Detention Center and the Edna Jane Hunter Center. Residents of Cuyahoga County are tired of reading stories of deplorable conditions at these facilities, in which troubled youth are placed in the care of the County. Chris will ensure that funding and staffing for the Detention Center matches the actual need, based on population. Chris will also develop a solution for youth awaiting foster care placements by finding appropriate space for them with the proper resources, rather than the current system in which youth are staying, sometimes for days, at the Edna Jane Hunter Center office building. Chris is committed to finding solutions and fixing these unacceptable conditions. As County Executive, Chris will:

 

  • Institute a streamlined hiring process for new DCFS case workers and social workers that doesn’t cut corners but does expedite the hiring of new, highly trained staff.

  • Initiate emergency contract renegotiations with juvenile placement agencies to increase placements of at-risk children.

  • Provide a retention bonus for frontline DCFS workers in an effort to stem further resignations and a hiring bonus to increase applicants for open positions.

  • Assign an onsite law enforcement presence at the DCFS headquarters for the protection of workers and children.

  • Convene a Child Placement Crisis Committee including the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, local and national juvenile behavioral care agencies, AFSCME union representatives, and university partners to develop long term solutions.

 

  • Establish a new Community Health Impact Fund to address geographic and racial health disparities in Cuyahoga County. In Cuyahoga County, those living in low-income, high-poverty neighborhoods experience higher rates of asthma, high blood pressure, and diabetes than those living in other parts of the County. A study by the Cuyahoga Health Improvement Partnership found that life expectancy in some high-poverty neighborhoods was 20 years less than that in the County’s wealthiest areas. Citywide, life expectancy for white residents is six years higher than that for Black residents. And three times as many Black babies die in Cuyahoga than the number of white infant deaths.

 

In order to address these shameful disparities, Chris Ronayne is proposing that the County’s largest non-profit hospitals contribute to a new Community Health Impact Fund (CHEF). University Hospitals and the Cleveland Clinic own a combined $3.2 billion in tax-exempt property countywide as of 2018, according to Ideastream Public Media. If that property were taxable, it would contribute about $112 million annually to support schools, parks, health and human services and local government.

 

In order to improve health equity for Cuyahoga County residents, Ronayne is proposing a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) proposal to fund a new Community Health Impact Fund. Nonprofit entities that own more than $750 million in property in Cuyahoga County would be asked to contribute to the fund at 35% of their property’s value which could generate up to $39 million each year. Funds will be used to address disparities across the county and to support cities that are home to these hospital facilities. The Community Health Improvement Fund will support healthcare access and transportation, wellness programs, and mental and physical health services.

 

  • Conduct an operational audit of Health and Human Services so the service system properly protects vulnerable children, seniors, and families. Chris will order an audit—verified by an external team—that will report on response times, families and individuals served, outcomes, and return on investment to determine where service gaps lie, how to most efficiently target funds, improve efficiency, and understand barriers that families and individuals face to self-sufficiency.

 

  • Overcome health inequities and support access to affordable care. Studies suggest that there are enough health providers and services in Cuyahoga County, but that these resources are under-utilized. Chris will dedicate resources for education and outreach, to ensure that pregnant mothers get the pre-natal care they need, that working parents get care after suffering a workplace injury, that children have access to pediatric care, and that seniors have the transportation and other resources they need to stay healthy and strong.

 

  • Ensure that basic needs like nutrition, housing, and health care are met. Establish new neighborhood-based service delivery model that allows residents to access services in local communities, rather than having to access them in a central location.

 

  • Bring back the County Ombudsman to help clients obtain needed county and community services. County residents need an Ombudsman to help them receive County services and navigate county programs. A centralized support center will better serve all residents.

 

  • Provide increased work supports for families seeking self-sufficiency. Many residents lose their benefits because of their inability to meet work requirements, or are never accepted in the first place. As a result, only 15% of residents in deep poverty receive cash benefits, a rate that has been on the decline. The County can do more to support families seeking work by providing supports such as child care, transportation, or income supports that allow an individual to participate in job training.

 

  • Improve child protective services by conducting a thorough review of all policies and procedures, caseloads, response times, and outcomes. Chris will prioritize the hiring of caseworkers to address unsafe caseloads and worker burnout. And new communication protocols will be established between local and county police and the County Department of Children and Family Services to ensure that at-risk children are reported and protected.

 

  • Build an “Age in Place County,” improving the lives of older adults with the nutrition, senior services, housing, transportation and outreach they need. As County Executive, Chris will develop a plan that will prepare our County for 2030, when 30% of our population will be 60 or older and a quarter of these residents will need support in order to pay for basic necessities.

 

  • Cut rising addiction and drug related deaths by expanding accessible addiction treatment, walk-in clinics, and affordable mental and physical health services. Chris will continue to support MetroHealth’s Project DAWN, which distributes life-saving Naloxone, and the NaloxBoxes program, which are installed at public buildings, homeless shelters, hunger centers, rehabilitation centers and other locations.

 

  • Increase access to jobs and services.

    • Ensure access to accessible public transportation, a lifeline for those who do not have cars but still need to get to work, school, shopping, or health care. We must bring together a strong enough coalition to fight for increased state and federal transit funding, provide more transit for workers, add circulators in the inner ring communities, and ensure our roads and bridges are safe.

    • Establish a new Office of Mobility and Transportation Safety that will focus on the “last mile” between housing and transit or employment and transit, so not every household needs access to one or more automobiles. Chris will direct the Planning and Public Works Departments to designate and design safe bike routes to employment centers and near major transportation corridors, including a network of “bicycle highways” that are separated from auto traffic. Develop a plan to reduce traffic fatalities by better protecting pedestrians and cyclists from automobile traffic. Cuyahoga County can be known as the best networked trail community in the nation.

    • Create safe streets countywide. Our streets are designed in a way that puts our residents and children in danger when they are simply trying to cross the street. Chris will develop a plan to improve traffic safety in our neighborhoods, to ensure that all travelers can arrive safely at their destination.

Learn more: Reducing crime and violence, increase equitable justice for all

Chris will: 

1. Reform Law Enforcement Countywide.As County Executive, Chris Ronayne will put into place a multi-pronged strategy to make our law enforcement efforts more effective, fair, and transparent. It is clear that much work needs to be done to restore the relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve to protect. Chris will provide law enforcement with the tools and resources they need, including more detectives to solve crimes, and will put into place new policies to identify and eliminate racial disparities in enforcement. The Sheriff’s Department under Chris’ administration will improve transparency about department policies and procedures, and will make new data publicly available about stops and complaints about use-of-force. These policies will benefit both the community and our law enforcement officers by restoring trust and promoting accountability.

  • Reduce crime by supporting professional, accountable law enforcement. Local police departments do not have an adequate number of detectives to investigate and solve violent crimes. Chris will increase the number of detectives assigned to local criminal investigations in the Sheriff’s Office and will continue to support the efforts of the new Crime Gun Intelligence Center at the County Prosecutor’s Office. New resources will be put towards collaboration with state and federal law enforcement to stop the flow of illegal guns in Cuyahoga County. With these new resources, the County will work with local jurisdictions to improve homicide clearance rates and bring perpetrators to justice.

    • Address racial disparities in police stops by providing public access to data about stops. Chris Ronayne will institute a system in which data on all stops by the Sheriff’s Department is collected, including demographic data, and annually publish a public report of the findings. Chris will also establish a data analysis center within the Sheriff’s Department and extend data tools to local police departments. Chris will work with the County Prosecutor to analyze and report data about prosecutors’ charging and plea-bargaining practices to identify and eliminate racial bias.

    • Create a mechanism for citizens to submit complaints about law enforcement, create an independent board to review complaints in an open and transparent manner, and make data about complaints available to the public. It is vital that our law enforcement officers have the full confidence of the public that they serve, but this begins with accountability. Currently, there is no way to file a complaint about the County Sheriff’s Department online, or any instructions about how to submit a complaint. There is no transparent process to adjudicate charges of misconduct by police and corrections officers. Chris Ronayne will establish a system for the public to submit complaints and track complaints and will create a new independent board to hear complaints and make recommendations for disciplinary action when complaints are substantiated. Data about complaints received, findings, and disciplinary actions will be made public.

  • Make all law enforcement policies—including use of force policies—public, and provide public data about use-of-force reports. Chris will take action to mend mistrust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. Trust begins with transparency, and Chris Ronayne will direct the Sheriff’s Office to make public use-of-force policies that describe and categorize actions that constitute use-of-force and the situations in which they are appropriate. Chris Ronayne will require annual reports on use-of-force that examine incidents by race.
     

  • Incorporate a community policing approach to criminal justice in Cuyahoga County, and increase police accountability by incentivizing local police departments to use vehicular and body cameras. Chris will redouble community outreach efforts at the Sheriff’s Office and conduct neighborhood and school crime prevention programs. He will embrace the approach of hiring non-uniformed staff to conduct administrative duties, freeing up uniformed officers to engage with and protect the community.
     

  • Add mental health care and crisis response teams so county deputies and local officers can call on specially trained responders to assist in mental health emergencies. Chris will also incorporate a “Sequential Intercept Model” to policing and training, so officers can support those in crisis.
     

  • Prevent youth crime and improve the juvenile justice system to protect our children and the whole community. Chris will expand opportunities for summer employment programs and after school activities that build social skills and provide opportunities for learning and growth. Chris will also deploy teams of “violence interrupters” to prevent youth retaliation and the continuation of violence, as well as restorative justice initiatives to heal both victims and perpetrators of violent crime and bring about resolution.
     

2. Cleaning up our county corrections system and the County Jail.The conditions at Cuyahoga County Jail are beyond reprehensible. Chris believes that a true measure of a society’s moral character is the way that we treat those accused of committing crimes, in this case those in the County jail awaiting their chance at a fair trial. The current situation at the county jail harms inmates, their families, and their communities, as well as places undue stress and trauma on the correction officers forced to bear violence and other indignities. The debate on what to do about the jail—to make repairs and renovations to the current structure or to construct a new facility—has been drawn out for too long, and as we delay, human lives are damaged. There are no easy answers, and it will take significant funds to implement a final solution. But action must be taken now. As County Executive, Chris will work to lower the jail population, ensure that prisoners have access to the health and mental health services that they require, and to make immediate repairs to improve safety and health. Constructing a new facility will take years, but we can’t afford to wait. Chris Ronayne will:

  • Collaborate with the prosecutor, public defender, and judges to achieve bail reform to address inequities in our justice system. Our laws hold that a person is innocent until proven guilty and that they be afforded due process in law. A system that allows for those with means to avoid jail by posting cash bail, while those that are from less fortunate circumstances must remain incarcerated until trial, is not just. Chris will develop a common-sense approach to bail reform that will not put violent repeat offenders back on the streets, but will reduce our jail population and reduce the harm that arises from pre-trial detention.
     

  • Reduce the pre-trial jail population by maximizing the use of the County’s Diversion Center, correctional mental health services, and a creating a Justice Expediter position to determine if there are better programs or placements for certain inmates. Chris will direct the Sheriff’s Office to study how the County could create Community Justice Centers, modeled off of national best practices, that incorporate social services rather than jail time for certain offenders. Chris will also work with the Prosecutor’s Office to end jail time for minor drug possession.
     

  • Improve conditions and outcomes at the Cuyahoga County Jail by addressing long-standing concerns about inmate access to health and mental health services. Chris will introduce a “traceable kite system” in which inmate requests for services can be tracked by an inmate or loved ones, thereby reducing the number of “lost” requests. Chris will also direct the Sheriff’s Office to conduct periodic surveys of inmates to understand emerging concerns and conditions, and institute a policy that separates seriously mentally-ill inmates from the rest of the jail population by maximizing the use of the County’s Diversion Center.
     

  • Conduct a 90-day review to make emergency repairs to the jail and improve conditions for inmates and corrections officers. Chris will move quickly to evaluate options for making much-needed repairs to the facility. Chris will focus on improving conditions at existing facilities right away, while moving forward with a data driven, fact-based plan for a new facility or a renovation of the current facility.
     

  • opportunities for “disconnected youth” to get off the streets and into productive careers. Youth that are neither in school nor employed are more likely to engage in criminal activity. Unfortunately, too many of our youth are forced out of school by overly punitive measures, making it more likely that the child will eventually become permanently disconnected from school and other opportunities. Addressing these challenges requires a multi-disciplinary and cross-sectoral approach. As County Executive, Chris Ronayne will make it a priority for his administration to engage with these youth and provide meaningful opportunities for them to continue their education or enter into the workforce. Chris will engage with school districts across the County to find alternatives to the school-to-prison pipeline and will provide funds to expand youth summer employment, internship, and mentorship opportunities.
     

3. Stopping the cycle of violence.  Gun violence plagues our communities. The lives lost, families torn apart, and neighborhoods literally shattered by bullets have become an unbearable strain on our residents. State and federal politics have prevented us from enacting common-sense reforms that would keep guns out of the hands of those that would do us harm, but our County is not entirely powerless. Chris will implement a plan to reduce gun violence with partners at the Sheriff’s Office and County Prosecutor, as well as state, federal, and municipal law enforcement and through collaboration with community partners and stakeholders. Chris will focus on deploying new technology, collaborating with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, utilizing federal funds, and providing opportunities for disengaged youth to find a path that does not end in violence or arrest.

  • Strengthen the County’s relationship with federal law enforcement and expedite the prosecution of gun possession and other gun-related crimes. The Biden Administration has directed the federal Department of Justice to increase collaboration with local jurisdictions in order to combat illegal guns and to focus on repeat offenders and those that use guns in drug related crimes. Chris will direct the County Prosecutor’s Office to find every opportunity to work directly with the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio and engage in the DOJ’s Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative. I will also direct the Prosecutor to expedite the filing and prosecution of gun-related charges in cases where multiple charges are expected.
     

  • Create a Cuyahoga County Citizens Safety Task Force dedicated to developing solutions to end gun violence. Any approach to ending gun violence is stronger if it comes from the grassroots. Chris Ronayne will convene a citizen task force made up of dozens of community representatives that will be charged with making community-oriented recommendations to improve safety countywide. Representatives from the Sheriff’s Office and Prosecutor’s Office will attend community meetings and provide updates on the County’s ongoing efforts to stop violence. This won’t be a one-off effort, but rather a concerted, long-term approach to guide our County’s responses in real time and to pursue the strategies that are seeing results on the ground.
     

  • Use federal funds for the expansion of community violence interventions and pursue the use of Medicaid and other funds for violence interrupters. To end the practice of retaliatory attacks, Chris will pursue the use of federal funds for violence interruption programs. Grant opportunities from other federal agencies exist specifically to fund this proven approach to breaking the cycle of violence, which involves “credible messengers” that engage with the perpetrators and victims of gun violence, including hospital-based programs.
     

  • Expand successful gun buyback programs. Cuyahoga County currently does not hold gun buyback events, in which residents may turn in a gun with no questions asked and receive gift cards or other forms of payment. These events can result in hundreds of guns being taken off the streets, and as County Executive Chris will work with philanthropic partners to fund County-sponsored events.
     

  • Crack down on the proliferation of “ghost guns” by collaborating with the federal Department of Justice. Ghost guns are those that are made at home through the purchase of a kit and lack serial numbers that would allow law enforcement to trace the gun if used in a crime. According to the White House, there were 20,000 ghost guns recovered by local law enforcement agencies nationwide in 2021. While ghost guns are still legal to purchase and possess in Ohio, Chris will work with state legislators, the mayor of Cleveland, other major county governments, and the governor to tighten state regulations against ghost guns. Chris will also ensure that local law enforcement collaborates with the DOJ and ATF to alert these agencies when a ghost gun is found at a crime site, so that they may pursue an investigation into the manufacturer of the gun kit.
     

  • Support new data and tools for the County Prosecutor and Sheriff to provide better intelligence about gun crimes and perpetrators. By harnessing data about violent crime hot spots and repeat offenders, the County can best direct its resources to where they are needed the most. Chris will support the work of the new Crime Gun Intelligence Center at the County Prosecutor’s Office.

End Dysfunction in Cuyahoga County government and Provide Effective Leadership

Cuyahoga County residents have lost faith in County government. They are sick and tired of reading headlines about corruption, missteps and dropped 911 calls, issues at DCFS, a sagging economy and entrenched poverty. The voters went to the polls in 2009 to bring about dramatic change, but since then they’ve been short-changed.

 

It’s time to deliver the better county government the voters demanded over a decade ago. We need honest, effective, accountable government for a change. Chris Ronayne restore confidence in County government by hiring an effective management team, making County government work smarter, better, and more efficiently.  He will clean up lingering scandals, hire people based on qualifications, end contracting problems, and make sure everyone in county government plays by the rules.

Learn more: End Dysfunction in Cuyahoga County Government and Provide Effective Leadership

Chris will: 

1. Make County government work for Cuyahoga County residents by constantly tracking performance, improving customer service, and upgrading IT systems and public-facing websites.  The Ronayne Administration will:

  • Institute a “CountyStat” system that will map and collect data on all government functions and will be reported monthly. CountyStat will include targets for agency performance along key indicators and will indicate whether a performance indicator is trending in the right or wrong direction. All this information will be available as a public-facing dashboard.
     

  • Re-establish six Neighborhood Resource Centers, where county residents can access programs, services, and resources in their own community without needing to come to Downtown Cleveland. Resource Centers will be co-located with other nonprofits and wraparound service centers. Chris will also reinitiate the co-location of county workers at key nonprofit centers, for instance the Cleveland Food Bank and Providence House. An onsite county social worker helps to bridge the gaps.
     

  • Make all public spending, including contracts and procurement, available to the public in an easily searchable database. Chris will work every day to reestablish trust between the public and their County government. That’s why Chris will introduce an “Open Checkbook” website that allows the public to search through all contracts and track every dollar—every check written—spent by County government.
     

  • Continually engage social service clients with surveys to track performance and identify where agencies could be doing better.
     

  • Establish a strong Ombudsman’s Office to make county services more accessible to seniors, children, and families; expand outreach and referral so residents are aware of and get help assist in finding county services; and engage with appropriate community-based partners. The sooner we can deliver the right services the better for both clients and taxpayers.
     

  • Order a review of all public-facing IT systems to ensure that they are accessible and easy to use, including for people with disabilities and speakers of other languages.
     

2. End the waste in County government to save taxpayer dollars. Chris will:
 

  • Conduct a Countywide efficiency review. Federal recovery funds have been essential to help our County continue to provide services and assistance to those impacted by the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, but these funds will soon run out. Still, there is much more that needs to be done to address our County’s long-standing challenges and disparities, and this will require resources and investment in our communities. This means that, going forward, our County will have to do more with less. One way to do this is to order an efficiency review of all County operations to identify ways to improve our business practices and save money in the course of our operations. This is a common practice for all levels of government, and private businesses take the time to review their operations and identify efficiencies. It is time for Cuyahoga County to take measures to protect public tax dollars.
     

  • Strengthen the County’s ethics laws and bolster investigations and enforcement through the Inspector General’s Office. Ethics laws and disclosures of finances and conflicts of interests should be strengthened in Cuyahoga County to prevent elected officials and County staff from abusing their positions for personal gain. For instance, elected officials in the County are not required to file financial disclosure forms with the County’s Inspector General. Our ethics laws have not been substantially updated since 2016, and as County Executive, Chris will order a review of the County’s Ethics laws and strengthen them where needed.
     

  • Ensure that the provisions of the County Charter are upheld and conduct a charter review. More than a decade has gone by since the new County charter was adopted and it is time to conduct a formal review of the charter and identify what is not working.  
     

  • Explore sharing services across municipal boundaries, and break down other barriers to economic and community development goals by working across borders. Chris will work with mayors, managers, and civic leaders to develop service districts within the county and conduct an alignment study to identify potential cost savings. Chris will also explore:

    • Sharing procurement and purchasing across municipalities and with the County to further take advantage of group purchasing opportunities.

    • Studying how communities can provide shared services to achieve improved results and economies of scale where feasible and acceptable.

    • Pursuing land assembly across municipal borders to support economic and community development.
       

3. Ease the tax burden on Cuyahoga County families. We live in a high tax county, and Chris knows it is time to do everything possible to improve government efficiency and performance, not ask for more county money. The influx of pandemic recovery dollars makes this more so. Chris will:

  • Protect long-time senior homeowners from rising property taxes by expanding eligibility for the homestead exemption and increasing its value. Chris will lobby state lawmakers to amend the state’s homestead laws and protect homeowners.
     

  • Negotiate payments from our County’s largest enterprises. Large non-profit institutions are tremendous assets for our County, employing tens of thousands of residents and spurring millions in economic activity. But as these institutions get larger, and make up a larger share of our economy, they take properties off of the tax rolls that might otherwise generate property tax revenue that could be used to fund essential services. University Hospitals and the Cleveland Clinic own a combined $3.2 billion in tax-exempt property countywide as of 2018 according to Ideastream Public Media. If that property were taxable, it would contribute about $112 million annually to support schools, parks, health and human services and local government. Our economy and our tax base have changed from the time that tax-exempt non-profit laws were written. Working with our socially responsible non-profit leaders, we can find a way to bring much needed resources to our County’s communities with the new Community Health Impact Fund.
     

  • Improve shared services between communities to lower operational costs for Cuyahoga Communities. Chris will partner with our 59 communities to create more shared service and shared purchasing opportunities to improve the bottom line for local governments.
     

  • Partner with local area agencies on state and federal grant sources to initiate large scale, cross community investment.