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Issue Date: April 2008

The Influentials: The Gang of Four

Deborah Sutherland, Bruce Akers, Georgine Welo and Martin Zanotti
Mayors of Bay Village, Pepper Pike, South Euclid and Parma Heights

They accomplish more by speaking as one than by speaking alone. Mayors Deborah Sutherland, Bruce Akers, Georgine Welo and Martin Zanotti make regionalism more than a buzzword and cooperate across city limits and party lines. The mayors of Bay Village, Pepper Pike, South Euclid and Parma Heights use the Cuyahoga County Mayors and Managers Association, where they’re officers, to push ideas for regional cooperation. (Welo joined the group last year when former Shaker Heights mayor Judy Rawson, an original member, left office.) What they’re doing is working, and Sutherland is now running for county commissioner.

What They Want What They’ve Gotten
Revenue sharing when a business leaves one Northeast Ohio town for another, and an end to towns trying to steal jobs from each other Their idea got folded into Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson’s “no poaching” agreements between the city and suburbs, and it helped inspire Cleveland and Independence’s deal on the Cavaliers’ training facility and the pact over the proposed I-90 exit in Avon.
The county commissioners to earmark last year’s sales tax increase for a new convention center If the county lands a Medical Mart,a well-funded convention center will go with it. If negotiations fall through, the tax will be rescinded, not diverted to other projects.
A regional economic development authority with a land bank of empty “grayfields” — unpolluted but developed land ready for redevelopment
No progress yet, except for a county economic fund that gives out smaller grants. But they’re still trying.

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