Julianna Johnston Senturia and interim mayor David E. Weiss are vying for the position of Shaker Heights mayor.

The winner of the November election will fill the rest of the unexpired term of Mayor Earl Leiken, who resigned March 31 to take a position with Cuyahoga County. The term ends at the end of 2019.

Senturia, 49, served as vice mayor under Leiken in 2016 and 2017. 

It was during that time that she became interested in becoming mayor, Senturia said. She is in her second term as a city councilwoman serving since 2012.

Senturia said her top three priorities are attending to core services and repairing aging infrastructure, financial sustainability and engagement and transparency.

“I’d like to return our focus to making sure that we’re doing those most basic things extremely well,” she said. In addition, she said she wants the city to invest in the aging infrastructure that serves Shaker Heights.

Senturia mentioned the importance of focusing on all of the city’s business districts, including Fairmount Circle and Larchmere, where she said it is important to have “cross-border collaborations.”

“We have been doing a little better than we thought we would do on income tax receipts,” Senturia said, contributing to a reserve fund of more than 30 percent of the operating budget. She said she wants to use the reserve first to fund infrastructure and to offer tax relief to residents if possible.

Both candidates spoke of the development of the $100 million mixed-use Van Aken District as a key plank of helping the city broaden its tax base. 

Weiss, 57, was appointed interim mayor in April following the mid-term resignation of Leiken.

Weiss said his top three priorities are economic development, financial stewardship and attracting and retaining residents.

Weiss was on city council when the project was proposed and on the planning commission during its implementation.

“We haven’t seen 130 new employees in anyone’s memory,” Weiss said, adding that he wants to repurpose and redevelop Lee Road south of Chagrin Boulevard. 

“Our total budget is $64 million, and the lion’s share of our revenue is our income tax,” Weiss said, citing the need for additional economic development.

Both candidates graduated from Cleveland Heights High School.

Weiss graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s degree in political science and graduated from the The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. Weiss practiced law and was executive vice president, general counsel and secretary at real estate investment trust DDR Corp. from 2003 until 2017. He owns Juma Gallery and Brew. Weiss was a member and chairman of the zoning board of appeals and the planning commission. He served as a city councilman from 1996 to 1999.

Senturia is the executive director of the Heights Schools Foundation and a consultant for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District on philanthropy issues. She graduated from Ohio University with a bachelor’s degree in political science. She has a master’s degree in American politics and policy from Ohio University in Athens and a master’s degree from John Carroll University in University Heights in nonprofit management.

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