By Jeff Gallatin
Even though she’s already the longest serving mayor in Bay Village history, Debbie Sutherland said she still has work to do, and formally announced she is seeking re-election.
“These next four years will be critical for us,” she said last week. “With the estate tax repeal taking effect this coming year, uncertainty of state and local economic policy and the continued burden on our budget, I believe my background and experience are right for this job.
“As mayor, I’m proud that our administration, in partnership with City Council, has weathered this economic storm, and I look forward to keeping Bay Village among the most desirable places to live and raise a family. While many other cities are faced with major deficits, the decisions made by this administration have put us in a position of long-term stability without the need for new taxes, something that simply cannot be said in many of our neighboring cities.”
Sutherland said dealing with the state cutting the local government fund and gradually eliminating the estate tax at the same time as other revenue streams have decreased has been a challenge for city officials.
“As all of us continue to work through these difficult economic times, I am extremely proud of how our city has managed these challenges. Our bond rating has improved two times over the past four years, our home values are stable, our city services have remained strong – all while at the same time reducing our city budget.
“I am very pleased that Bay Village was ranked the number one suburb in 2012 by Cleveland Magazine and one of the Top Ten Towns for Families in the US by Family Circle, but we cannot rest on our laurels.”
After serving as the Ward 2 councilwoman, Sutherland was appointed mayor in 2000 after Thomas Jelepis resigned to take the top post at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections. She since has won re-election three times, the first two by wide margins, while the last over former Councilman at Large Jim Scott ended up in an automatic recount at the board of elections. It also came shortly after she was the Republican candidate for the old Cuyahoga County Commissioners seat. Incumbent Democrat Peter Lawson Jones won by a large margin.
Sutherland acknowledged the closeness of the last municipal election, but said while working hard in 2013 to seek re-election, she, her administration and City Council will be very busy with many issues.
“As I indicated, it appears the financial situation will remain tight for several years, and we will need to keep a close eye on that,” she said. “We’re going to have to work hard to make sure we use all resources to provide the best services available.”
Another area that will require much attention is the ongoing sewer work in Bay Village.
“Dealing with those problems has been an ongoing issue for many years and will continue to be a long-term issue,” she said. “We’ve been able to work well with the EPA on this and we’re making progress on fixing the problems. But we still have a lot to do, so we’ll continue work on plans and finding the best solutions.”
Sutherland said she remains committed to being mayor and said she appreciates being mayor of her hometown.
“It’s a very special place to live and I want to continue to work on making sure it stays that way,” she said.