Bibb, Kelley Address Issues Facing Cleveland's Senior Residents
The two final Cleveland mayoral candidates took part in a forum to discuss issues affecting senior residents Wednesday. The forum, moderated by the Council on Older Persons (COOP) in partnership with the Center for Community Solutions, covered issues ranging from public safety and health to infrastructure and environmental equity.
If elected, candidate Justin Bibb said he would prioritize improvements to infrastructure like sidewalks and roads, improve transportation and reassess distribution of police. His primary concerns are lowering crime, improving education and creating a more open and responsive administration, he said.
“I’ve talked to countless seniors who have to call four or five departments to get their grass cut. That should not be the case in the city of Cleveland,” Bibb said.
Bibb highlighted that his mother served as a social worker for a number of years and continues to work with senior citizens. He’s familiar with the impact of public policy on senior residents through that work, he said.
Bibb’s administration also would conduct audits and performance reviews to make sure department demographics including race, gender and age, are representative of Cleveland, he said, and that every department is doing what it needs to do.
“As we claw our way out of this pandemic, now more than ever, we need a mayor that can unify our city,” Bibb said. “We need a mayor who can work with not only leaders in the private and nonprofit sector, but also grassroots activists who are doing this work day in and day out.”
Bibb plans to conduct a national search for his staff to find those best suited to conquer issues such as the digital divide, he said. By contrast, mayoral candidate and current Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley said he’s wary of national searches and would seek local options for his staff to find people who are familiar with the city and its issues.
“We can come together and improve these services to make Cleveland the best city to live in for senior citizens,” Kelley said.
He will prioritize initiatives that help seniors to stay in their homes and age in place, he said. That includes combatting the digital divide to allow residents better access to resources like telehealth.
“What are those things our city can do to make sure that we are encouraging and enhancing independent living?” Kelley said. “We need to make sure that we are always focused on enhancing quality of life for our seniors.”
Kelley also will focus on eliminating neighborhood blight and vacant or poorly maintained properties to create safe, clean and bright neighborhoods for residents, he said.
Seniors are an important voting constituency, with the electorate in local elections skewing older.