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Government & Politics

Cleveland City Council to Vote On Effort to Shrink Number of Members -- and Their Pay

photo of Cleveland City Hall
A 2018 study found that Cleveland City Council has more members -- with higher salaries -- than similarly sized cities such as New Orleans, Wichita, and Tampa.

Cleveland City Council will consider tonight whether to put initiatives on this spring’s ballot that would slash the number of council members -- and their pay.

The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections received petitions in November from Clevelanders First. The grassroots group was founded in the early 1990s by John Kandah to advocate for better government. He says he’s confident the issues will pass based on the response to the signature drive.

“If you ask the average Clevelander, ‘what kind of response do you get from your councilman?’ -- they laugh. Very poor service [and] very poor communication. It’s been that way for a while. Time to change. And to be quite honest with you – [the] numbers that came to sign our petitions, in the manner that they came to sign them – was extraordinary.”

The ballot initiatives would cut council from 17 members to nine. And it would cut salary from about $83,000 to $58,000.

Kandah says he was motivated by a 2018 Cleveland.com study. It showed that council has more members – with higher pay -- than in similarly sized cities such as New Orleans, Wichita, and Tampa.

Council President Kevin Kelley told the website last week that the changes would be bad for the city in part because each ward would nearly double in population.