Thursday, October 24, 2013

Roller Coaster and Part Two of my Answers to the Questionnaire

  The campaign trail is more like a campaign roller coaster and I have always loved roller coasters! 
Thank you all for your support!  Keep spreading the message for positive change in Youngstown!
YES we can!

This is the second part of the questionnaire that I filled out a few weeks ago.
What are your ideas regarding job creation in your jurisdiction?

I believe that as a region one of the biggest myths perpetuated is the one that leads folks to believe that some big company is going to come to town and “save the day”.  Although I believe more and more folks are coming to understand that this is a myth, there are still far too many people who ascribe to it.  It is of course essential that the city reach out to and appeal to businesses, both local and from out of the area.  However, I believe that the best thing we can do as a city is to create ourselves and our city into one where businesses do not necessarily feel that they are doing us a favor by locating here, but rather, businesses are being given an opportunity to locate in an area that is rich in resources, people, and community.  I also believe that it is important that we are a progressive city, one that appreciates diversity, encourages both entrepreneurial and artistic creativity, and supports social, economic and environmental sustainability.

We need to promote and utilize union apprenticeships and job-training programs that make concerted and authentic efforts to recruit and train minorities, especially minority youth and women.  We need mentoring programs in place so that job performance and job security can work hand-in-hand to guarantee a healthy workforce and workplace.  We need businesses that locate here to hire local people, offer a living wage and pay their fair share of property taxes and resource expenses, so that our schools can be viable.  Healthy schools are crucial to an active, engaged and aware citizenry as well as a viable workforce and a vibrant community.

We can create a diverse economy and progressive environment by emphasizing local production, local investment in neighborhoods, and opportunities for citizens, especially youth and the un- or under-employed, to learn the skills necessary to build a leaner and greener Youngstown.  We need entrepreneurs, mentors, apprenticeship programs and job skills training to work on repairing and improving our infrastructure, rehabbing houses and stimulating a diverse local economy.  We must utilize the County Land Bank to acquire abandoned properties with or without structures for those willing to put in the labor and reap the benefits.

City council's role is primarily one of legislation. It is their job to write legislation, review current legislation, and make overall improvements to the laws in the city of Youngstown. This is in addition to responsibility in budget appropriations and overall spending issues. Perhaps one of the least expensive ways to create the city we all want to live in, is to revisit some of the old ordinances on the books, and find ways to update them to be more in line with other progressive cities. There have been numerous studies and reports on the city charter, and many citizen recommendations.  I believe that council needs to begin the work of discussion of these potential measures in a transparent manner, and begin implementation of citizen ideas and recommendations.

What policies and procedures would you put in place to ensure equity in hiring and awarding contracts?

There are policies and procedures in place to ensure equity as outlined in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. There are also Affirmative Action policies in place.  These policies need to be followed and enforced.  It is time to remove “nepotism”, “favoritism” and “bias” from the qualifications for hiring and awarding contracts.
 How will you ensure that African Americans and Hispanics are included in the workforce, appointed to boards and commissions, awarded and issued contracts of publicly managed project funds?

There are policies and procedures in place to ensure a diverse workforce, representation on boards and commissions and issuance of contacts.  But unless these policies are utilized and enforced, there will be no equity.  My many years of residence in the city have led me to believe that our community is very divided along racial and ethnic lines, and this needs to stop. It is time for all of us to come together and recognize that although ethnic diversity should be celebrated, when it comes to government, the needs of all citizens must be addressed with fairness and equity. I find it distressing that though our laws offer the promise of equal opportunity to all, there are insufficient and inefficient services here, and this has helped to create the highest rate of poverty in the US according to A Brookings Institute Report.

I believe that it is very important to start the conversations and actions necessary to heal the many hurts that have happened in this community over many decades.  We need to work as a united community to foster the opportunities needed to improve the quality of life for all the citizens of Youngstown.

  What issue or factor makes you unique as a candidate for this office?

I have practiced positive and respectful engagement and communication with all fellow human beings in comfortable as well as uncomfortable situations for many years.  I believe that since I did not grow up here but have lived here for 20 years, that I have an “outsider’s” view of the positives and negatives that affect the social, economic and environmental health of our city.  For example, after I had lived here for about two years, I became aware that because so many folks here were born, raised and still remain in Youngstown, their affiliations tended to be with or for the same people that they had known their entire lives.  I noticed that folks didn't go outside of their comfortable social circles often, and that in fact, it was often discouraged. This is not helpful to our citizens as connections between people and groups of people often lead to increased knowledge, understanding and opportunities.  This type of behavior is blatantly apparent in our government. It is all too common to see officials working for the good of their own (friends, side of town, etc.) and not seeing the benefit of working for ALL sides of town and for ALL of the people. Finally, I love Youngstown and want to see Youngstown become a model of what can happen to a city when everyone comes together for the common good.

Beiersdorfer Press Release Occupy Youngstown, Ohio, Green Party and Fracking Waste Earthquakes

Press Release
Oct. 25, 2013
Timely and important news from Youngstown, Ohio:
Susie Beiersdorfer, who is a leader in the Occupy Youngstown Anti-fracking Group, the most active arm of the Occupy Youngstown movement, is now running for president of Youngstown City Council as a Green Party candidate. Youngstown has a long history of activism since its steel mill days in the 19th century. Among Beiersdorfer's priorities is making city council open to local citizens and responsive to their concerns and assertions for their rights to clean air, clean water and a sustainable environment in Youngstown. The Occupy Youngstown Anti-fracking Group has a ban on fracking and injection wells on the November ballot. Susie’s husband Dr. Ray Beiersdorfer, Professor of Geology, is a spokesperson for the group along with many others.

The Anti-Fracking Group has held several educational forums in Youngstown, featuring videos of local fracking that are negatively affecting human beings and the environment. 

Please see:
The Westwood Lake Trilogy:
Contact info: 
Arya F. Jenkins, Press Secretary for Susie Beiersdorfer,
  # # #

Campaign team members with Susie Beiersdorfer canvassing for Youngstown Community Bill of Rights, October 26, 2013, Youngstown, Ohio
Campaign team members with Susie Beiersdorfer canvassing for her President of City Council run, and for the Youngstown Community Bill of Rights, October 26, 2013, Youngstown, Ohio

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

What Youngstown Saves in the Next 4 Years Will Mean a Lot More Than What it Demolishes - JH

A great statement from a Youngstown business person and artist:

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Call for Sammarone to Withdraw from the Council President's Race and My Responses to an Election Questionnaire

An article published today from The News Outlet.
Sammarone should let someone else take reins of city council

Candidates are often asked to reply to Election Questionnaires. 
Here are some of my responses to a recent Questionnaire.

 Why are you seeking the office you are running for at this time?

I have lived in Youngstown for more than 20 years and have witnessed an ever-widening gap in effective communication between citizens and our local government. I find this problematic, as communities need a vitalized citizenry. If those elected to positions of power in the city fail to listen to the folks who have elected them, the citizens become frustrated and become apathetic about revitalizing the city. I know this frustration first hand. I've attended numerous Council meetings where elected officials sat slouched in their chairs or distracted on their cell phones rather than listening to the person standing at the podium, speaking about an issue of concern. This lack of engagement extends even to the way many departments in city hall respond to phone calls and inquiries from citizens. If you call, you get a dull hello. There's a lack of courtesy, genuine interest and deep listening. This may be the result of the work culture created by those in current leadership positions. I believe that not only is it important to engage citizens in participatory democracy but also to engage city employees and create a positive culture for everyone who spends their days serving the public.

In addition, I chose to run because it came to my attention in early January 2013 that only one person was running for the position of Council President. I believe that the failure of people to step up and run for public office is merely a reflection of the problems with communication and culture.  I came to understand that to “walk my talk” it would be necessary to run for this office, so that a clear choice would be available for citizens on election day.  Furthermore, I was appalled that the person who was running unopposed was running in order to “spend more time with his grandchildren”.  Although it is admirable to want to spend time with family, running for a public office should not serve as a means to do this. A public official should be elected for one reason only, to serve the citizens.

What will you do to improve the quality of life in your respective jurisdiction?

The City Charter describes the role of Council President as overseeing the public meetings and voting in a tie-breaker if needed. In order to responsibly serve as a "tie-breaker vote" per se, I believe it would be my role and responsibility to make myself aware of not only the issues the council is concerned with, but also to reach out to the community by attending neighborhood group meetings and other citizen-based organizational meetings in order to hear what the concerns of the citizens are about the issues.  I see the role of Council President as a unique one, in that it encourages representation of citizens from all sides of town.  By meeting with people on all sides of town, this will serve a two-fold purpose; first it will provide me with increased knowledge about issues and two; it will allow me to serve as the link between citizens and the government officials who are elected to serve them.  In addition, if elected it would be my goal to improve access to council meetings, as well as to host regular public forums. I am a firm believer in transparency in government, and believe that the more discussion about issues the better. It is my hope to support and encourage this kind of discussion about issues vital to the health and welfare of Youngstown citizens. Through civil and respectful dialogue and discussion, these actions can be put into practice to improve the quality of life for ALL the citizens of Youngstown.

What qualifications and experience demonstrates your ability to be elected to the office which you are seeking?

My ability to listen to and engage with people from all backgrounds and opinions is an asset for public service. My patience, persistence and “attitude of action” enhance my ability to get things done. My integrity and non-combative nature allow me to communicate effectively.  I have been a teacher for over 20 years, teaching students from preschool to adulthood in both formal and informal environments. I am a lifelong learner and an active citizen of Youngstown, committed to helping improve the quality of life for ALL citizens of Youngstown.

If elected, what will be your three priorities and why?

1. The job of Council President is primarily one of facilitator. If elected I will work to improve communication, collaboration and efficiency within city council itself as well as between city departments.  I will do this by listening to employees concerns and suggestions for improvement and dialoguing with them to find solutions to put into practice. We must change the culture within City Hall so that all employees feel respected and part of a government that works to improve the quality of life for themselves and all citizens of Youngstown. A Human Resources Department is vital so that there is a place where people can formally voice their concerns without fear of retaliation or job loss.  

2. Improve communication between citizens and their government.  I envision my duty as Youngstown City Council President as connecting citizens with local government and encouraging communication and civil dialogue.  The President of Council oversees the public meetings and is charged with making sure that the public has a voice in the government that serves them. The public needs to engage and have a forum to ask questions, voice concerns and offer suggestions. I will work to improve communication in several areas: the scheduled public meetings, outreach at neighborhood and public meetings, and through the City website.

3. Work to build bridges between government, business, educational, public, non-profit, faith-based and other entities, so that our community can move forward and provide opportunities and services for all our citizens and together create a healthy and vibrant Youngstown community.  Sustainable positive change for Youngstown is possible only when our WHOLE community works together with respect, patience and persistence for the benefit of all the citizens of Youngstown.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Vindy (Vindicator) Videos from my interview and a quote

So I have not figured out how to embed the Vindy videos from the interview with editorial staff of September 23, 2013.
Here are the links to excerpts from the interview.

Beiersdorfer on Reasons for Running

Beiersdorfer: Communicating with Council

I found a lovely quote by Terry Tempest Williams in the book “Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit” by Parker J. Palmer. This book is so well-written and heart-felt.

“The human heart is the first home of democracy.  It is where we embrace our questions. Can we be equitable? Can we be generous? Can we listen with our whole beings, not just our minds, and offer our attention rather than our opinions? And do we have enough resolve in our hearts to act courageously, relentlessly, without giving up—ever—trusting our fellow citizens to join with us in our determined pursuit of a living democracy?”

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Media Statement about Proper Policies and Procedures.

As a candidate running for President of City Council, a leadership position in the City of Youngstown, I was asked to comment on the alleged charges of sexual harassment and the proper procedures that were or were not followed. 

According to the city ordinances, the matter should have been investigated, and interviews should have been conducted with written documents compiled from the interviews.  We do not know if Mayor Sammarone created such documents.  I suspect that he did not.

But the comment made by Mayor Sammarone (as reported in the media)”, "What did you expect, you are a pretty young girl?" is unconscionable!   I believe that this statement indicates that he did not take the matter seriously.  Mayor Sammarone did not just fail to protect Lindsey from her alleged perpetrator; he failed to protect the city by failing to follow the law as outlined in the ordinances. 

This CERTAINLY raises the issue of how Mayor Sammarone handled this situation when he was President of Council.  As an elected official in a leadership position Sexual Harassment and Discrimination charges should ALWAYS be taken seriously and policies and procedures outlined in the Administrative Code 163.53 should have been followed.   

I believe that ANY form of harassment or discrimination in the workplace toward women or men MUST NEVER be tolerated and should ALWAYS be taken seriously.  Laws have been set up to deal with such allegations.  A person is innocent until proven guilty and we need to let this issue play out through the proper legal channels.

Now, I initially ran for this position because of the lack of communication and accessibility experienced at our “public” council meetings, but through more intense observations and research into the way our city is being run, IT IS SO CLEAR that radical and proactive changes are necessary if we are to move forward as a healthy community.

For recommendations to increase efficiency in Youngstown, see a thorough summary of the Youngstown plan written by Phil Kidd. The $250,000, 251 page study is called the “Youngstown Plan”, part of the Strong Cities, Strong Communities initiative.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Why did you decide to run for President of Youngstown City Council in 2013?

I have lived in Youngstown for more than 20 years and have witnessed an ever-widening gap in effective communication between citizens and our local government. I am frustrated with the lack of listening and lack of communication between those in power and those who elected their leaders. I've attended numerous Council meetings where elected officials sat slouched in their chairs or distracted on their cell phones rather than attentively listening to the person standing at the podium, addressing an issue of concern. This lack of engagement extends even to the way many departments in city hall respond to phone calls and inquiries from citizens. If you call, you get a dull hello. There's a lack of courtesy, genuine interest and deep listening. The government that we elect to serve us must pay more attention to what citizens are saying and what citizens need.  Also, citizens must remain active and engaged in order to help bridge this communication gap.

What will be your priorities if you get elected?

The first thing I will do is visit every department in city hall, introduce myself and find out how we can work together better. We need to increase the spirit of cooperation in Youngstown. Once we have that, we can find ways to save money and make progress. Without cooperation, respect and kindness, which are really the cornerstones of any society, you really can't move forward as a community. We need to examine how we relate with one another and improve on that.

How do you envision Youngstown a few years from now?

I envision better communication between departments at city hall, better communication between elected officials and citizens, and greater communication among all the citizens of Youngstown. I believe it is possible for us all to get along and to treat each other with respect and kindness, no matter our differences.

What do the people of Youngstown need to know most about you?

I'm a mother and teacher, and have been active in the community since I moved to Youngstown. I care deeply about many issues affecting our city and have worked on major projects with many different groups. I raised two daughters here and taught geology at YSU for seven years while also being actively engaged in the community in roles such as volunteer, board member, community activist and leader. I love Youngstown and want this community to thrive!

Some local groups and organizations with which I have worked:

       Dorothy Day House
       First Unitarian Universalist Church of Youngstown       
       Frackfree Mahoning Valley (co-founder)

       Friends of the Library
       Friends of Mill Creek Park
       Grey to Green Festival (co-founder)
       Grow Youngstown
       Lake-to-River Food Cooperative
       LOOP (Loved Ones of Prisoners)
       Northside Farmers Market
       Occupy Youngstown
       Treez Please (co-president)
       Valley Coalition for Peace and Justice