2014 CC9 P Saunders, Donald

2014 CC9 Saunders, Donald

Video Interview

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

Biographical Information.

Note from The Citizens League:

We received Mr. Saunders' response to our questionnaire and then completed the research indicated below. After locating numerous civil lawsuits on the Common Pleas Court docket, we asked Mr. Saunders to provide information relating to some of the cases and to provide more context for the response in the questionnaire, where he indicated that he has not been a party to any civil lawsuits.  His response was as follows, and he provided the additional explanatory information regarding those cases that is included below.  While the answers to the questions in the questionnaire are all from Mr. Saunders, we have placed in italics information provided by him in the background section, and the following response to our follow up:

"Thank you for the opportunity to review and explain parts of the bio. I had forgotten many of them since they were dismissed but I guess they still show up on the record. Thank you for reminding me of them and I hope I have explained my point of view on them significantly enough including the divorces. As you can see raising two boys on my own along with the various other situations that had occurred, I know what it is like to be knocked down a few pegs but have always come back from them. See the answers and modified bio attached.

Donald A. Saunders"

I.          Personal Information

Name:   Donald A. Saunders

Date of Birth and Age on Election Day: 59

Political Party Affiliation:  Democrat

Home Address:  Bedford, Ohio

Spouse/Significant Other:

Children: Two sons

Social/Civic/Club Affiliations:

Civic Involvement: 

City of Bedford Citizen of the Year for 2005 as awarded by the Bedford Community Council 

Current Member, Board of Directors, Southeast Family YMCA, Bedford, Ohio 
Member, Bedford Chamber of Commerce 

Member, Bedford Garden Club 

Member, Bedford Historical Society 

Former Member, Board of Trustees, Bedford Historical Society 

Former Secretary, Padua Franciscan High School Alumni Association 

American Red Cross 16+ Gallon Blood Donor 

Political Involvement: 

Member, Bedford/Walton Hills Democratic Party (and the former Bedford Democratic Club, 1997-Present) 

Member, Cuyahoga County Democratic Central Committee, Precinct 6-A, City of Bedford (2010-2014 term) 

Member, Democratic Municipal Officials 

County Government Transition Involvement 

II.        Educational History

University of Akron, 1983, additional professional coursework

University of Dayton, 1977, BS, Civil Engineering Design

Padua Franciscan High School, 1973

III.       Professional Background

2004-present    Zoning Inspector, Northfield Center Twp.

2011-present    Zoning Inspector, Village of Sagamore Hills

2000-2002       Engineering Consultant

1998-present    Bedford City Council, Ward 6

1977-2002       Highway Design Engineer (position at retirement) Cuyahoga County Engineers Office

1973-1977       Multi Coat Paints

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

IV.       Criminal Record and Court Involvement

Criminal Record:  None found on Cuyahoga County Clerk’s docket.

Civil Litigation: Search of docket in Cuyahoga Common Pleas revealed:

Dollar Bank FSB vs. Donald A. Saunders, 2012 CV 783657 (residential foreclosure action),

The bank filed this because of the bankruptcy that was filed and the removal of my late wife’s name from the mortgage. Apparently they were unaware that my wife had passed away and the loss of her income raised the debt to income ratio for this loan. They were also worried because the mortgage was more than 120% of their new appraised value. They had reappraised the home after they found out my wife had passed. They never inspected the inside of the home and did not know at that time that I had rebuilt the inside bringing it up to modern codes and they appraised it as if it was built in 1924. They had revalued the home for 1/3 of what it had been appraised for when the loan was taken out. I paid them $8000 to bring the balance down and they stopped the foreclosure proceedings. 

Cuyahoga County Clerk of Courts v. Donald Saunders, judgment lien $127.50, JL-2012-561827

Target National Bank vs. Donald Saunders, CV 2010 718054 (defendant in a misc. civil case)

HSBC Bank Nevada, NA v. Donald Saunders, CV 2010 715974 (and related judgment lien for a small sum)

Andrew Greenwald et al., vs. Amtrust Financial, CV 2009 681596 (plaintiff in class action case)

Nordstrom FSB vs. Donald Saunders, CV 2009 687769 (defendant in collection case)

FIA Card Svc. vs. Donald Saunders, CV 2009 709750 (defendant in collection case)

Target National Bank vs. Donald Saunders, CV 2008 667935 (defendant in a misc. civil case). Case voluntarily dismissed in March 2009.

It is not clear from the docket whether the two Target National Bank cases above are related.  There is a judgment lien case apparently flowing from the 2010 case for $25,956.01.  It is not clear if the lien has been paid. 

The above cases except the Amtrust one resulted from a credit fraud for several credit cards that were primarily used by someone in Canada over a 6 week period. They ran up over $100,000 in charges. The two Target cases are related and are one in the same. Target when they found out I didn’t make the charges dropped the first one on advice of the judge but refiled when they found out the other companies filed for theirs. Nordstrom’s actually filed twice similar to Target. You only show one of them. When they all started filing the second time my lawyer filed the bankruptcy case since he advised they would keep doing this even though they kept getting thrown out of court because of their fraud provision and the only way to stop the harassment was to wipe them all out by bankruptcy. This was also the case for the Joanne Bernstein case below. To remove me fully from that case being filed again which was an automobile accident my late wife had a couple months before she passed away. That case was dismissed since the photo’s presented by the plaintiff Mrs. Bernstein appeared by expert witnesses in depositions to show her vehicle hit my late wife’s vehicle not the other way around. They added me to the case since they claimed I was party to the title of my late wife’s vehicle. My wife owned the vehicle outright and I had never been on the title as an owner so the judge dismissed me from the case.

The Amtrust case was a class action lawsuit against Amtrust Bank now Ohio Saving Bank. There were 5 principle parties involved of which I was one of them. Amtrust Bank had cancelled all their lines of credit loans based on equity of one’s home, Line of Credit, and continued to charge a yearly fee for the loan for two years when the suit was filed. This case was won in court and the 5 principles got $50 and everyone else got a settlement of $25.    

Joanne Bernstein v. Judy Saunders, CV 2006 595004 and CV 2007 638083 (defendant in motor vehicle accident case) 

As mentioned above this case was an auto accident my late wife was involved in a couple months before she passed away. I got dragged into this case since they claimed my name was on the title and it was not. The second filing they claimed since the insurance policy was in my name I was also responsible for their damages though they could never prove it. State Farm insurance took them to court and won the case. To keep them from filing again it was included in the bankruptcy along with the credit card companies that were involved in the fraudulent use of my credit cards.

2001, Defendant in Divorce Proceedings, plaintiff was Judy Saunders (restraining order issued against Mr. Saunders and dismissed at end of case.)  It is not clear if the case ended with a decree of divorce.  It was only active for three months before it was dismissed. 

My late wife had filed for divorce after she ran off with some guy who dumped her after two months. She filed the restraining order because of our two boys since she wanted custody of them and had figured with me knowing most of the judges that was the only way she could get them and yet never during this time even visited them. When the guy dumped her, I let her back home and she dropped the case. We never got divorced. 

1992, Plaintiff in Divorce Proceedings against Kathleen Hriczo Saunders. Case ended within a few months with an annulment and separation agreement.

This was a strange case because we had planned to get married 3 times before she went through with it.  She always cancelled the wedding at least 3 months in advance. This time she went through with it but unfortunately she moved back home 10 days after we were married and filed for divorce and I filed for an annulment. Was granted the annulment and the separation agreement was that whatever was yours you kept.

  Donald Saunders v. Jean Jadlowski, CV 1986 109183 (plaintiff in motor vehicle accident case)

 This was an automobile accident where Mrs. Jadlowski had hit my car broad side on the driver side speeding and driving the wrong direction on the street. My car was 3 weeks old and her insurance wouldn’t even pay off the car even though they totaled it. I was injured in the accident and they refused to pay for most of the injury bills. I had to take her to court where she was found guilty and we got back a couple thousand dollars over what all the bills ended up being. 


Bankruptcies:  Candidate reports having declared bankruptcy once. We are obtaining related information.

Ethical Issues: Research in progress.

V.        Campaign Information

 Campaign Address:


 Campaign Officers/Participants:

 Prior Campaigns:  Numerous for Bedford City Council.  2010 for District 9 County Council.  2013 for Mayor of Bedford. 

 Prior Elected Offices:  Bedford City Council

 Campaign Endorsements/Affiliations

 Questionnaire Response.

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?  When, where?  

      My current position on City Council in the City of Bedford requires a yearly report to be filed with the Ohio Ethic commission. I have been doing this for the 16 years I’ve been on City Council. Every election I have been required to account for everything that is related to my council position and any election expenses. This has been done for the last 16 years.

2. In the last five years, have you been a party to any civil law suit?  If yes, please provide the case name and nature of the suit.  

I have not been a part of any Civil Lawsuits.

3. Have you ever been convicted of a crime, other than a minor misdemeanor?  If yes, please provide the year and jurisdiction of the conviction. 

 I have never been convicted of any crimes.

4. What steps have you taken to ensure that your campaign is complying with Ohio Campaign Finance law?  

I have made sure every expense is accounted for and have checked every expense report. I have not spent a lot of money on most of my campaigns over the years. Running for the County Council of District 9 seat 4 years ago was probably the largest campaign I ever ran. My council campaigns have only been a few hundred dollars.

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 complaint have ever been filed against me or my campaigns.

6. Prior to this campaign, have you campaigned for elected office?  If so, please identify the date, the office, and the outcome.  

I ran for City Council of Ward 6 in the City of Bedford in 1993 & Lost, 1995 & Lost, 1997 & Won, 1999 & Won, 2001 & Won, 2003 & Won, 2007 & Won and 2011 & Won. I ran for Cuyahoga County Council District 9 in 2000 & Lost. I ran for Mayor in the City of Bedford in 2013 & Lost. Currently running for Cuyahoga County Council District 9 2014.  

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. 

So far I have self-funded the campaign but I have not spent any money on the campaign yet. I have a lot of material left over from the same race of 4 years ago. There are no contributors to date for this election.

B.         Transparency

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

A centralized request center needs to be established and then distributed to the department it needs to go too and then returned back to be distributed. This would eliminate confusion and guarantee that the information gets to where it was requested from. Once the County gets into their new headquarters this should be easy to implement since all the departments and divisions will be in the same place.

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

The use of electronic media can be a tool in getting meeting notices out but the County has to start holding meetings during times the general public can make. People work so having major meetings during the day restricts the ability of people being able to get to them. Neighborhood meeting especially district meeting to keep the public informed of what is happening is a good tool to use. Web site use is another good tool to use and get the local web sites to put a link to the Counties site would also work well.

10. If elected, what steps would you take to improve citizen engagement and to communicate critical information to your constituents?

 I would be a Councilor to all the communities in District 9. I would attend as many City Council meeting and local club meetings as time would permit outside of County Council Business not just attend when asked.  The best way to find out the needs of an area is by being involved in that area and listening to those residents and local elected officials. I would be involved in the state and federal level to bring back new ideas that may be working in other areas. I have done all this on the local level while being on City Council and would continue on the larger scale.

C.        Efficiency

11. What steps do you believe could be taken to improve cooperation and between county government and other local governments? 

Communication is a big factor.  Elected officials on all levels need to meet and discuss concerns on a regular basis. The County Council needs through each ones district to engage with the residents by holding regular meetings in their respective neighborhoods and listen to concerns and ideas for improvement. Firsthand knowledge of an issue is better than reading a report. The levels of government need to work more together in finding solutions to the areas problems and communication will help that.

12. Please generally describe your position on the issue of regionalism. 

Some form of regionalism is a fact of life. Economics are dictating the need for combining certain services. A community does not have to lose its identity with regionalization but actually strengthen it. Sharing certain services by regionalizing them frees up more money to build on the assets of a community. However bigger isn’t always better either. Finding the right balance and size is the key and that’s why cooperation between communities is vital to the existence for the entire area.  

13. After four years of the new county government, can you identify any areas or programs that you believe could be run more efficiently? 

Many of the new departments are still searching for their identity. Maybe too much was combined in the fiscal area. Maybe there should still be an elected fiscal officer. Too big doesn’t work either. The Sheriff should be an entity on its own and the Public Works department needs a County Engineer as well as the Public Works Administrator. Even the County Council is starting to expand past what was originally designed.     

14. In what way(s) would you improve that relationship between the Executive and Council? 

Once again communication is the key to any working relationship. We are not in a game to compete against each other. You’re elected to benefit the overall County and personalities sometime need to be put aside for the betterment of the overall good. Communication and discussion of items is a must but compromise must also happen at times. Nobody knows everything.

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 I have run several times for public office over the last 20 years. I have been on City Council in the City of Bedford for over 16 years, having run unopposed in all but one election. I ran for Mayor in the City of Bedford in 2013 but was unsuccessful. I ran for County Council in District 9 4 years ago when the County Government was first changed but was unsuccessful. Dates of these elections were City Council of Ward 6 in the City of Bedford in 1993 & Lost, 1995 & Lost, 1997 & Won, 1999 & Won, 2001 & Won, 2003 & Won, 2007 & Won and 2011 & Won. I ran for Cuyahoga County Council District 9 in 2000 & Lost. I ran for Mayor in the City of Bedford in 2013 & Lost. Currently running for Cuyahoga County Council District 9 in 2014.    

16. Aside from your current position, what public offices have you held? When?

I have worked for the Cuyahoga County Engineers Office as a Highway Design Engineer for 25 years, retiring in 2002. I currently work as the Zoning Inspector in Northfield Center Township in Summit County and have held that position since 2005. I currently work as the Zoning Inspector in Sagamore Hills Township in Summit County and have held that position since 2011. My elected position of City Councilman of Ward 6 in the City of Bedford I have held since 1998.

17. Have you, or any business in which you held more than a 50% interest, ever filed for bankruptcy.  When, where? 

Yes, unfortunately my wife unexpectedly passed away in 2006 leaving me with 2 small boys to raise. Losing that income left a void in finances that when a couple years later when I had a few credit cards used fraudulently forced me to declare bankruptcy in 2010 to get out from under. It was the only option after trying other avenues to get back to normal after losing half of the household income when the wife passed away.  

18. In your opinion, which aspects of your education and experience prepared you to serve on County Council? 

My varied government experience gives me the knowledge of how government works on all levels. My engineering background gives me the training to solve problems. I have been actively involved in my profession, community and government over the years giving me a unique perspective and understanding on how to get the job done. I have always worked with people and been able to get things done. I am well versed in construction and inspection and have done economic development through my different government positions. District 9 needs are many but the large tracks of retail and commercial land that are empty or abandoned and the large number of houses that are empty or abandoned gives the District a chance to redefine itself for development.

E.         Policy

19. What steps do you believe county government can take to take advantage of Cuyahoga County’s lake front?  

The lakefront is a hidden gem. We need to develop it like many other coastal communities have to bring in our youth and hope they relocate here along with tourist that have a lot to take advantage of not just what can be done on the lake but the immediate surrounding area. Water always attracts people if it is developed properly with activities to keep people interested. We are already one of the country’s leading boating areas. Beaches, restaurants, pedestrian friendly areas to walk or ride a bike coupled with the Rock Hall, Aquarium and Museums and Sports Complexes and Casino a short distance away, could make the area a major destination for this country. 

20. In your opinion, what is the single most important thing county government can do to promote economic development? 

Right now the County needs to sell itself to the rest of the country and world. The old jingle of this being the best location in the nation needs to be revived. Cuyahoga County is one of the major crossroads of transportation in this country. We have major railroad lines crossing this county, Interstates that reach out across the country and of course the port that opens up shipping to be used by the other forms of transportation. This coupled with some of the world’s leading medical facilities along with world leading arts like the Cleveland Orchestra and museums, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame amongst them, all need to be put into a major marketing campaign. This area should be booming with these type of assets but they remain sleeping entities waiting to be discovered.

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? 

No, I believe as mentioned earlier that maybe some of the new departments should be reconfigured and return certain positions to elected ones rather than give more power to a certain structure like County Council or the Executive. A more checks and balance system would result by doing it that way. The Executive is supposed to do the everyday running of the County and Council is supposed to supervise the finances much like it is set up in many municipalities in this county. Look at Summit County that has had a similar form of County Government for decades now. Their Council makes half of what Cuyahoga County does but it is structured with an elected Sheriff, Fiscal Officer and Engineer along with the Executive and County Council. To much power to any one group only leads to the possibility of corruption and this County doesn’t need any more of that.

22. Did you support Issue 3 on the November 2013 ballot? Why or why not?

 No, this provision is a function of the Executive. If he appoints someone to run a department or division it makes that employees job that much harder to do if he has to worry about the Council removing him because they may not like him or have someone else in mind. The Executive has to work daily with these employees not the Council so it should be someone he can work with not someone handed to him. Too many chefs make for a disruptive kitchen. Sure the Executive may make mistakes but there are other ways to handle this than giving the Council more power to direct. Councils job as stated earlier is to review finances not run the County.

23. Do you support the renewal of the sin tax? Why or why not? 

This is an interesting topic since this area is still in a very depressed time. I do not believe that the Council did enough time in reviewing possible alternatives to the Sin Tax. They knew this tax was coming up for renewal and yet waited until the last minute to look at it and it left them no other option but to put it on the ballot. They should have been reviewing this item last year, giving them ample time to thoroughly analyze all avenues of funding. I truly do not believe this tax will pass in its current form. I think the option of having an entertainment tax on tickets and a lower Sin Tax would stand a better chance to pass. A lot of people using the facilities are from outside of the County and sometimes the State and this would allow them to help contribute some to the operation and maintenance of these facilities since they are using them and a lower Sin Tax would still have Cuyahoga County residents keep a stake in the facilities since they are located here and owned by this County. The County is also losing tax revenue because many people go outside of the County to purchase these items to save the Sin Tax so maybe a lower tax would keep them here and the increase in volume may also make up some of the difference in tax revenue.  Those that go outside of the County also cause the County to lose Sales Taxes as well.  I will support the Sin Tax because we have to maintain these structures and the activities that they draw bring in millions of dollars that we cannot afford to lose. The County on the other hand cannot afford to fund this through the General Fund either. So if it fails I would hope that they sit down and thoroughly analyze the possible funding for this and come up with an equitable source to maintain these structures. It is unfortunate but in tough times it’s the products taxed by the Sin Tax that are used by those that can least afford it.