Beachwood Voter’s Guide

I have a real passion for everything about Beachwood, seeing it thrive and do better, and I think it can do better, Berns said.

Beachcomber Archives

“I have a real passion for everything about Beachwood, seeing it thrive and do better, and I think it can do better,” Berns said.

Beachwood voters will select candidates for a number of local offices on Nov. 2 including mayor, city council, school board and Shaker Heights municipal court. The Beachcomber submitted questionnaires to each candidate asking why voters should select them. For candidates who did not return questionnaires, quotes are from the League of Women Voters’ candidates forum. 

Beachwood Mayoral Candidates

Justin Berns, currently on city council

I ask the residents of Beachwood to hire me as their Mayor, not for my campaigning skills but for my proven management skills. Hire me for my in-depth understanding of our infrastructure needs. Hire me for my understanding of the needs of City employees who are so necessary to the successful operation of our city.

*     *    *

It is imperative for the city to have immediate discussions with the owner of Beachwood Place concerning the mall’s future. I would invite conversations that emphasize doing everything in the city’s capacity to ensure the success of this valuable asset. In addition, improving security and safety at the mall is of the utmost importance to me.

It is critically important, now more than ever, to strengthen Beachwood’s local infrastructure by working to secure federal and state grants for construction projects. Areas that rank high include the proposed redesign of the Chagrin/Richmond/271 corridor which is vitally important to the business district, and the Mercantile/Harvard connector road that’s been discussed for more than 10 years and will aid in the revitalization of the Commerce Park business district. I will also continue to address the flooding issues we are experiencing. 

I should also point out that the morale of city employees is lacking. I believe I have the know-how and ability to change this unfortunate circumstance.

Martin S. Horowitz, Incumbent Mayor

I am clearly the more experienced candidate in this race.  I’ve had 26 years of real leadership.  I’m the only Beachwood resident to ever be President of the Board of Education, President of City Council and Mayor. This means in my public career I have had the support of my peers and the residents of this city.  I also have  experience as an attorney for 40 years and I have an advanced degree in technology education. I’ve made tough decisions involving personnel, COVID, police matters, construction,  and tens of millions of dollars in budget money. My directors and I have tackled problems that were ignored by the past administration for 26 years.  My guidelines for decision making are innovation and collaboration. I always look for the best practices and the best in class to learn from.  Also, I am only running for one more term to finish the many projects I’ve started.   

*     *    *

[The most important issues to me are] safety, infrastructure, economic development and services.  All four together are the pillars that support this city and give Beachwood the premier reputation that it enjoys.  We’ve built up our police and fire departments with increased staffing, more patrols at the mall, K-9 units, updated police policies, newer equipment and technology and closer partnerships with the schools and the Jewish Federation.  In economic development  we were able to create a new world headquarters for GE Current which will spur the re-imagination of Commerce Park.  And we’re working with developers to bring more high tech and high paying jobs to Chagrin Highlands, Commerce Park and Beachwood Place.  All of this brings more tax revenue to the schools and city.

City Council Candidates

George Carr

I have decades of experience as a lawyer, including deep experience with the issues commonly raised in Council, like zoning and land development. I also served on the City’s Charter Review Commission, rewriting the City “Constitution,” and as the longtime President of the Beachwood Democratic Ward Club.

[The issues important to me are]  improving city services and infrastructure, like street lights, storm sewers, and traffic signals. Second, encouraging and promoting diversity and tolerance, among all the creeds, lifestyles, religions, and choices our residents pursue. Third, finding ways to attract and keep businesses and residents in Beachwood.

Mair Cohen

[The issues important to me are] The direction of the city with regards to big-ticket items such as amphitheater and daycare. Redevelopment of select commercial zones.

I have decades of business experience, academic credentials, the mind of an entrepreneur, and the integrity of a family man.

[My qualifications include] a common sense approach, fiscal stewardship and transparency.

[I hope to see] more resident involvement in large projects of this city. To prioritize spending and increase safety.

Alec D. Isaacson, incumbent council member

*Responses from candidates’ forum

Our city has grown over the past eight years. We’ve added 4000 new residents and many new businesses. We have a strong financial position and a growing, vibrant community. I helped us to get there. Among other things, I oversaw an overhaul of our city’s zone income, which made it easier for us to attract new businesses and I drove creation of strategic plans that clearly and transparently map our priorities and path forward.

We all love Beachwood. We’ve worked hard to serve it. But that’s not enough. We need extreme leadership with experience and vision.

Joshua Mintz, currently serving on school board

*Responses from candidates’ forum

For the past 10 years I’ve had the honor and privilege to serve on the Beachwood School Board. In this role. In this role, I’ve worked with students, families, district staff, school leaders, local businesses and residents to ensure that our children have access to the best education.

If elected I will continue to apply my hands-on approach to solving problems and continue to be a common sense voice that represents your needs as well as continuing to honor Beachwood values and traditions.

I will prioritize safety and security for all of our residents, religious institutions and those visiting our community.

Eric Synenberg, incumbent council member

Over the last four years on council, I have proven to be fair, honest and accessible to all residents.  Voters should vote for me based on those traits, as well as my record.

I have supported our safety forces and public works department wholeheartedly.  I have also been a strong advocate for expanded recreation and community services opportunities, from Barkwood to the Community Gardens, to the soon-to-be-implemented changes to City Park East.

Beachwood’s most pressing issues are safety and security, economic development, expanding community services and community building.

Board of Education Candidates

Beachcomber archives


Kim Allamby

Beachwood needs to continue common sense management of the pandemic that keeps the school community safe, enables the schools to stay open, and extracurriculars to continue. For example, I am in strong support of the recently proposed vax or test policy. Also, I want to ensure  students get the resources and supports they need to reach their highest potential.  That means we need to continue to address achievement gaps, opportunity gaps, and identify and remove any systemic (or other) barriers in place.

I am a passionate public-school advocate who will put the needs of the students first. I understand that public schools must offer a progressive curriculum with academic rigor in conjunction with strong arts, music, and extra-curricular offerings. This must also be done in a setting that is inclusive and nurtures social and emotional development to optimize student readiness for college and careers. I have benefitted from a strong formative education, so I know how it can impact a person’s life trajectory. I also have kids presently in the Beachwood schools, and I would do what it takes to keep Beachwood the top-tier school it is. In fact, I want to make it better!

Julie Brough

*Responses from candidates’ forum

I was fortunate enough eight years ago that my employer, University Hospitals, placed me at Beachwood schools. Over those years I not only worked as a Beachwood athletic trainer, but also the high school athletic schedule district senior search co-advisor. I had the amazing honor to treat and care for our students and help our seniors explore different career opportunities. While working at Beachwood, my family developed many friendships and we felt at home…

My reasons for running for Beachwood Board of Education are really simple: I love Beachwood and I want to strive for greatness by keeping our focus on our students, ensuring a well rounded, excellent education so our kids can be ready and successful in the future. We have an amazing staff who are passionate about our kids and work hard to find the best education.

I view my job as a school board member to find what is within the purview of the school board and the district, and what is not. I am a caring and thoughtful person who is good about being understanding and non-judgmental… I welcome different thoughts and want to have an honest, real, respectful conversation.

Kareen Caputo

*Responses from candidates’ forum

As a mental health professional, [I believe] the most important message school can give students is to empower them to be the best student they can be.

My late father-in-law…  was an outstanding history teacher. He was loved by all. Why? Because of how he made the students feel about themselves. His assumption was that every child has unique abilities, and therefore he took the time to observe, to discover, and to learn from them. As a result he was capable to turn low achieving students into high achieving ones. When he started in the early 60s there were very little things we knew about learning disabilities. He told us a story about a student who was failing in class because she was not reading her assignments. Charlie just observed. He noticed that she was smart. He went to the library. He bought her books on tapes, and the student went from an F to an A.

There are three traditional models, there are medical models that communicate you are sick, there’s a helping model that communicates you are weak, and there’s a trauma-based model that’s saying you are broken. Now I’m not saying the models are not good… but you cannot expect [to communicate to a child that they are] sick or weak or broken without undermining his confidence and ability.

Valerie Charms-Mason

*Responses from candidates’ forum

I’ve been labeled the anti-CRT candidate by our opposition. This is not who I am. I am in fact the anti-politics in K-12 candidate… I don’t want the 1619 project. I don’t want 1776, CRT, BLM, Blue Lives Matter, or anything else about which our teachers cannot remain impartial.

I want our Beachwood kids to have an amazing comprehension in math, language arts and history to develop critical thinking. By definition, critical thinking is disciplined thinking that is clear, rational, open-minded, and informed by evidence from data, facts, observations, and research. What I’ve seen is a move away from being a top-ranking district, which was the very reason why I moved here 14 years ago. As of last year, we are now ranked number 38 in Ohio, which is a huge drop from where we were.

We’re more focused on graduation rate statistics than the quality of the education being taught. My focus will be on raising the bar to help all of our kids become better thinkers, not just test takers.

Jillian DeLong, incumbent school board member

The qualifications that I bring is the experience of being on the board currently.   I work for Cuyahoga Community College where I balance academic needs with administrative budgets every day.   I am invested in this community as a parent with two children currently in the school system.  As a current school board member I believe in backing up all decisions and actions with facts and data. 

I would like Beachwood Schools to continue to improve student achievements by continually looking at current programs and making updates so that Beachwood mission of creating global citizens is achieved.  This includes always asking the question ‘how can we make each student feel like they belong’.      

Beachwood residents should vote for me, Kim Allamby, and Wendy Leatherberry because we share in the values of Beachwood.  We hold a conviction that public schools are important and committed to public involvement.   

Wendy Leatherberry

I hope to earn votes because my experience has prepared me well to take on the challenge. I know and understand the role of a Board member; I recognize the District’s strengths, but also areas for improvement.

First, we must navigate out of the pandemic, continuing to prioritize the health and safety of our students, families and staff. The District has done a tremendous job of keeping everyone as safe as possible; I am committed to supporting those efforts as long as necessary with facts and science as the guiding force. This includes providing social-emotional supports, because the pandemic has been so difficult in numerous ways. 

I want to see more progress toward equity and inclusion. A child or young person who recognizes themselves in the literature they read and the history they learn feels better and does better in school. Pursuing equity and inclusion is not just the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do for student achievement.

Dr. Miriam Weiss

*Responses from candidates’ forum

[My] academic achievement started with a public school education. I graduated from public school in 1965, before many of my fellow candidates were born.

I received my bachelor’s degree in 1969 and graduated from medical school in 1973, along with just eight women out of a class of 116. Years later, I retired as a full professor of medicine from Case Western Reserve University. During those decades, I took care of patients, taught medical students and residents, and ran a research laboratory funded by the National Institutes of Health.

I truly enjoy the give and take that brings creative new solutions to difficult problems. The Beachwood School Board will benefit from my skills as a critical thinker and collaborative communicator.

So why vote for me? Because I have a lifetime of perspective to share that can benefit children, their parents and all who value nurturing the next generation.

Shaker Heights Municipal Court

Laura Creed 

*Responses from candidates’ forum

For the first time in 27 years, the voters have an opportunity to select a new judge for the Shaker Heights Municipal Court. It is paramount that whoever is our next judge has broad legal experience and broad life experience, and I’m the candidate that has [those] qualifications. I have a career that spans almost 3 decades. I initially started in private practice, and I’ve spent the last 25 years of my career at the court of common pleas in Cuyahoga County. There is no better training ground to be a judge than working in the common pleas court. I’ve been a judicial staff attorney, where I was the judge’s right hand, and from there I learned how to research and write opinions and make decisions. I also had the opportunity to talk to the judge about why he or she was making that decision, and just bird’s eye view how to conduct hearings. When I became a magistrate in 2015, I hit the ground running and I knew how to listen to people, and how to bring my own personal style to being a magistrate. Finally I’ve created a court resource center at the common pleas court. I direct that now, and that has been my greatest joy, my most proud accomplishment. It is from there that I really learned how people feel about coming into a court. They’re scared. They don’t know what to do. It’s the role of the court to be helpful and welcoming to those people that come to our court. 


Anne Walton Keller

The national trend of increased domestic violence offenses is reflected by the cases filed in the Shaker Heights Municipal Court. I will create a dedicated Domestic Violence Docket to increase offender accountability and enhance victim safety.  As a member of the Cuyahoga County Domestic Violence Task Force I will work to enhance procedures and will work closely with Journey Center for Safety and Healing (formerly D.V. Advocacy Center) and the Witness/Victim Service Center to coordinate this critical docket.   

I fully support bail reform and have helped to implement non-monetary bonds for nonviolent offenses in the Shaker Heights Municipal Court. As Judge, I will work to effectively implement and improve these practices to insure equal treatment for all.  On behalf of the court, I researched, applied for and received a grant to enable the court to fashion sentences that are alternatives to jail, through intensive probation tools like house arrest, alcohol monitoring and GPS monitoring. I will continue to apply for grants to help provide alternatives to jail. 

It is a judge’s responsibility to make sure that everyone who walks into a court is treated fairly, with respect and dignity, not just by the judge but also by all court personnel.  I am in support of the movement for a statewide criminal sentencing database and I would like to work with other courts to exchange such information regarding municipal courts. The Shaker Heights Municipal Court will lead by example.  

Additionally, suburban municipal courts lack resources for mental health and addiction services.  I will work with other courts to coordinate these resources.  I will continue our partnership with Cleveland Municipal Court’s Mental Health, Addiction and Veterans Dockets, supplying those in need with the most comprehensive court treatment and monitoring options available in this county.  

Sydney Strickland Saffold

*Responses from candidates’ forum

As a criminal defense attorney, my clientele and my experience has lent itself to my vision for our municipal court. The most important change that I intend to make in the Shaker Heights Municipal Court is to fold in and expand upon the pre-existing …diversion program that exists. I want the first point of contact with the court to include a pre-trial diversion analysis that most importantly focuses on the mental health needs of defendants that come through our court… All the crimes are misdemeanor crimes in the Municipal Court and… I will initiate a program where we do a mental health analysis for each defendant, as oftentimes people[‘s] conduct is symptomatic of an underlying condition, and some folks don’t have the wherewithal, the resource, or the access to things – to the mental health treatment or the ability to identify these conditions that exist in order to treat them, and oftentimes their conduct is symptomatic of these conditions. I believe that folding in a mental health component into the diversion program will keep our community safe. We’ll be able to redirect that energy that these people have that have resulted in these criminal cases into getting services, treatment provided to them, dual diagnosis programs, and access to workforce development, as well as access to programming that will help us reduce recidivism and allow folks to have their cases adjudicated through the court where they’re eligible, and without having a conviction that’s going to encumber them moving forward in life.

James W. Satola

I believe that the length of my legal experience (32 years, more than any other in the race); the breadth of my legal experience (federal judicial law clerk to a legendary federal judge, attorney, author, teacher, local and national bar leader); the quality of my legal experience; and my personal experience, offer the voters of Beachwood (and the other cities and villages of the Shaker Heights Municipal Court district) the opportunity to elect a judge who will serve the five communities of the jurisdiction (Beachwood, Hunting Valley, Pepper Pike, Shaker Heights, and University Heights) with honor, and broader experience than any other candidate in the race. 

As a judicial candidate, the upcoming election is not about specific issues, but rather putting before the voters the strongest qualifications, background, and experience to serve as a dedicated judge.  Judicial elections should not be a contest about what kind of “changes” one proposes (a meaningless stock “trope” question posed to judicial candidates), but rather the ability — through education, background, and experience — to serve as an honorable judge.