2014 CC9 P Lewis, Leah

2014 CC 9 Digital Dossier: Lewis, Leah


Follow this link to view The Citizens League's interview with Rev. Lewis.  We will post the entire thirty minute interview once we resolve a technical issue.

Biographical Information

I.          Personal Information

Name:   Leah Lewis

Date of Birth and Age on Election Day: 49

Political Party Affiliation:  Democrat

Home Address:  Highland Hills, Ohio

Spouse/Significant Other:


Social/Civic/Club Affiliations:

Tri-City Democratic Club,

Cuyahoga Democratic Women's Caucus,

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.,

Order of the Eastern Star, Ecclesiastes #101

II.        Educational History

Beaumont School

Bowling Green State University, BS, Education, 1987

Howard University School of Law, J.D., 1995

Yale Divinity School, M.Div., 2005

Candidate, D. Min., Ashland Theological Seminary

III.       Professional Background

2013- present United Church of Christ.  Presently awaiting a pastorate.

2006-2013       Associate Minister, Minister for Community Engagement

                        Olivet Institutional Baptist Church

1998-2002       HSBC Bank USA, Assistant Vice President

1996-1998       Negotiator, ING Baring Financial Services, Inc.

1988-1992       Legislative Assistant, Big Eight Athletic Conference

1987-1988       Assistant Coordinator, Women’s Sports Foundation

Numerous other ministerial, publishing, speaking, teaching and organizing positions and experiences.

Source: CV provided by candidate, a copy of which is available upon request.

IV.       Criminal Record and Court Involvement

Criminal Record: None found in Cuyahoga County.

Civil Litigation: None found in Cuyahoga County.

Bankruptcies:  Research in progress.

Ethical Issues: Research in progress.

V.        Campaign Information

Campaign Address: Friends of Leah Lewis, 3720 Northfield Road, Ste. 203, Highland Hills, OH 44122


Campaign Officers/Participants: Jennifer Jaketic, Treasurer

Prior Campaigns:  City Council, Highland Hills, 2013

Prior Elected Offices:  City Council, Highland Hills, 2013-present

Campaign Endorsements/Affiliations

Jean Abernathy-Smith, Councilwoman, Village of Highland Hills

Barbara Spearman, Councilwoman, Village of Highland Hills

State Representative Sandra Williams (District 11)

Tres Roeder, Councilman, Shaker Heights

Richard Trojanski, Councilman, Maple Heights

Wendy Grant, CSU Leadership Academy

Julia A. Shearson, Interfaith Leader and Activist

The Reverend Kathleen C. Rolenz, West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church

Response to Questionnaire.

A.        Integrity

1. Have you ever held a position, public or private, where you were required to report gifts made to you or expenditures made on your behalf?  No.  When, where?

2. In the last five years, have you been a party to any civil law suit?  No.  If yes, please provide the case name and nature of the suit.

3.  Have you ever been convicted of a crime, other than a minor misdemeanor?  No.  If yes, please provide the year and jurisdiction of the conviction.

4. What steps have you taken to ensure that your campaign is complying with Ohio Campaign Finance law?  Yes, I have contracted with a Treasurer who has knowledge of the Ohio Campaign Finance law.

5. Has a complaint ever been filed against you, or any campaign committee acting on your behalf, in the Ohio Elections Commission, or Federal Elections Commission?  No.

6. Prior to this campaign, have you campaigned for elected office?  If so, please identify the date, the office, and the outcome.  Yes, for Council in the Village of Highland Hills in Nov. 2013.  I won my race.

7. Please identify the top three contributors to your campaign, how much you have raised thus far, how much you intend to raise, and how much you have spent thus far on your campaign.  Tillie Colter, $200.  Dickie Thomas, $100,  Samuel Lockhart, $100.

B.         Transparency

8. What steps can be taken at the county level to make access to public records easier?  N/A

9. What steps can be taken to make the operations of county government more transparent?  N/A

10. If elected, what steps would you take to improve citizen engagement and to communicate critical information to your constituents? County Council Meetings need to be held in the evening—at a time—when majority of citizens may be available to attend.  If a matter comes up that is hotly contested in a particular community, then a special Council meeting should be held in that community.  Additionally, key information should be available on the County Council website. 

C.        Efficiency

11. What steps do you believe could be taken to improve cooperation and between county government and other local governments?  Each County Council person should hold two quarterly meeting in their District and rotate the meeting location among the municipalities and Wards within their District.  The first meeting should involve the Mayors and councilmembers from each municipality within their District.  The second meeting should be expanded to include citizens.  I believe the meeting of elected officials will have a positive impact on cooperation because the personnel will have an opportunity to familiarize themselves with one another and their individual concerns.  This could go a long way toward developing various Councils of Government fostering regionalism.   

12. Please generally describe your position on the issue of regionalism.  I support regionalism, however, we must be mindful of the jobs that may be lost.  Unemployment has far too many consequences for individual, families and the entities that miss out on the related income tax. Consequently, job creation should go hand-in-hand with regional cooperation.  For example, if and IT profession loses a municipal job, it would be beneficial to provide employment assistance that may steer the IT profession to a corporate entity.  I note a corporate entity because often corporation query the availability of IT profession when determining to open an office in a particular location.

13. After four years of the new county government, can you identify any areas or programs that you believe could be run more efficiently?  At this juncture, I cannot.  To do so, would be pure speculation.  I prefer to develop direct, accurate and specialized knowledge so to offer and appropriate and informed answer to this very important question.

14. In what way(s) would you improve that relationship between the Executive and Council?  Improving the relationship between the Executive and the Council is strictly based on the personalities and ideologies of all the stakeholders.  Sadly, it boils down to how cooperative each member seeks to be.  Where there are difficult personalities, I would seek to facilitate positive interactions or mediate if necessary.  I do believe it is important to create a ethos of cooperation and “creative exchange.”  The last phrase belongs to a scholar named Victory Anderson out of Vanderbilt.  Creative exchange intimate that where there are diverse views, some of which may be radically divergent, mutual exchange that is earnest—even if intense and confrontation—that openness to dialogue can lead to a creative exchange that produces positive outcomes.  This is perhaps the best we can hope for between the Executive and the Council.

D.        Competence

15. Aside from your campaigns for County Council, have you ever run for public office? If so, please identify the office and the date of the election.  Yes, for Council in the Village of Highland Hills in Nov. 2013.  I won my race.

16. Aside from your current position, what public offices have you held?  None.  When?

17. Have you, or any business in which you held more than a 50% interest, ever filed for bankruptcy.  No.  When, where?

18. In your opinion, which aspects of your education and experience prepared you to serve on County Council?  Both my law degree (Juris Doctor) from Howard University School of Law and my Master of Divinity M.Div.) degree from Yale Divinity School.  I cite the J.D. for the ability to read, comprehend and draft laws.  As for the M.Div., I state it in tandem with the J.D. because both demanded that I take profession ethics. 

E.         Policy

19. What steps do you believe county government can take to take advantage of Cuyahoga County’s lake front?  We need to further explore ways (initially through feasibility studies) to use the lakefront to generate energy, promote sustainability, to develop our port potential effectively and efficiently and establish suitable beaches for leisure.

20. In your opinion, what is the single most important thing county government can do to promote economic development?  We have got to promote business on two levels: 1) Small business development and sustainability; and 2) Diversified corporate relocation to Cuyahoga County.   We, must not, however, promote businesses to our detriment.  While we do need some measure of tax incentive we need not be excessive and we needed offer incentive to the detriment of our schools.  Education and economic development are naturally aligned.

21. Do you believe that the powers of County Council should be expanded to enhance its ability to check and balance the authority of the County Executive?  Right now, the Cuyahoga County Charter permits the Council to override the Executive determination not to sign a resolution by a vote of eight of the twelve council people.  So, this is a very good check and balance.    But, to more fully answer this question I actually need to study the notes from the Cuyahoga County Commission Charter and to glean a better understand of the current dynamics to answer this question appropriately.  It seems that the Executive could use a bit reigning in.  I do not, however, know if this is reality or perception.

22. Did you support Issue 3 on the November 2013 ballot? Why or why not?  I do not support Issue 3.  I believe that all citizens of the United States should submit to the Federal Law—the Affordable Health Care Act—and be subject to the “individual mandate.” 

23. Do you support the renewal of the sin tax? Why or why not?  As for the “sin tax”, we know that we need a means by which to pay for the capital improvements on the Gateway complex since we, the people of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County, own the facilities.  The question becomes, what is the best way to generate that income?  We also know that the State of Ohio has provided Cleveland and the County a unique dispensation to excise alcohol and tobacco for this special purpose.  Then the question becomes, do we forsake the special dispensation in order to facilitate a different means by which to generate the necessary income?  With these considerations my answer is as follows:  At this juncture I do support the “sin tax.”  Why? Because no viable alternative has been put forth.  That said, I think it would be most responsible for the City of Cleveland and the County to explore other potential means of generating revenue for the Gateway Complex so that upon its next expiration date a more equitable means of financing our capital improvements may be made.  Equity is the issue most often raised by its opponents.  Study the issues, present the facts, make a sound decision, and execute it upon another vote of the people.  (I recognize that a study may conclude that the current method of financing is in the best interest of the people.  We now have the benefit of retrospection.  We know how the “sin tax” has impact the economically marginal.  Legislators have an obligation to act with equity in mind and for the common good.