On tour: Cleveland City Council president Kevin Kelley launches neighborhood listening sessions

Cleveland City Council president Kevin KelleyCleveland City Council president Kevin Kelley

Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley has confirmed he is considering a run for the 2021 mayoral seat. But to get a better idea of what Cleveland residents want, he’s doing a bit of listening before he starts campaigning.

Yesterday, Tuesday, Feb. 16, Kelley announced that he will conduct a month-long Neighborhood Listening Tour across the City of Cleveland—starting today, Wednesday, Feb. 17, in Ward 13.

“Because I think we don’t spend a lot of time listening,” Kelley says of his tour. “Things change, and times have specifically changed during this pandemic time.”

Kelley embarks on this series to learn firsthand from community members about their concerns, what issues they face, and what they believe the city needs to do to recover from the social, physical, and economic impacts of COVID-19.

“Cleveland has been hit hard by the pandemic, which has only compounded the social and economic challenges we already faced,” said Kelley in a statement. “It’s time that we forge a new path forward—fast. The best way to start is by listening to Clevelanders and learning directly from them about what they need.”

Kelley says he doesn’t want to tell residents what they need—he instead wants to find out what they’re concerns are. “Candidates often come forward, telling you what they plan to do,” he explains, “instead of getting a basic knowledge of what [residents] really need.”

Kelley wants to hear what the issues and concerns are in each of Cleveland’s 17 wards. “Every region is different,” he says. “I want to know what the parks are like, if there is a grocery store you can use and do you have access to fresh food. Do you know your neighbors, do you feel safe in your neighborhood?”

The first virtual meeting is in Ward 13, Old Brooklyn tonight, Feb. 17 at 7:30 p.m. via Zoom. During the sessions, Kelley will kick off the discussion and answer as many questions as possible from participants. Residents are encouraged to join, engage in conversation, and have a chance to be heard on the issues that matter to them the most.

It’s all about building a sense of connection. “We need to look at what kind of community we’re building and that starts with listening,” Kelley says.  

Registration at each event is requested. All meetings begin at 7:30 p.m.

The town hall schedule is:

Ward 13 Wednesday, February 17

Ward 1 Thursday, February 18

Ward 17 Tuesday, February 23

Ward 2 Wednesday, February 24

Ward 16 Thursday, February 25

Ward 3 Tuesday, March 2

Ward 15 Wednesday, March 3

Ward 5 Thursday, March 4

Ward 14 Monday, March 8

Ward 4 Tuesday, March 9

Ward 6 Tuesday, March 9

Ward 12 Wednesday, March 10

Ward 7 Thursday, March 11

Ward 11 Monday, March 15

Ward 9 Tuesday, March 16

Ward 10 Thursday, March 18

Ward 8 Tuesday, March 23

“Cleveland has a lot of work to do to address the problems we face, but the solutions are out there,” Kelley said in his statement. “And these neighbor-to-neighbor conversations are just the first step that we can take together on a path forward.”