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Weizer to run for
University Heights, Ohio--A lesbian city councilor is seeking a full four year term on November 6.
Winifred “Win” Weizer, 58, has decided to seek a full four year term on University Heights city council instead of the remainder of the two year unexpired term she was appointed to fill in February. To do it, she has joined with three other candidates to form a slate for four vacant seats at large.
“I decided to run for four years instead of two to reduce the fundraising,” said Weizer, a lecturer at Cleveland State University working on a Ph.D. in urban studies and urban affairs.
Weizer and her partner Pat Baskin have lived in the east side inner ring suburb of Cleveland since 1991. She has been an activist in the LGBT community in the 1970s through the early 1990s and in the city since then.
Weizer became the first openly lesbian official in University Heights last winter when she was appointed from a field of 17 applicants to fill the unexpired term of R. Patrick Kelley, who resigned.
She is a Democrat, though the election is non-partisan. On her slate, real estate attorney Kevin Patrick Murphy is an independent. The others, economic development specialist Steven Sims and former Red Cross head Steve Bullock, are Democrats.
Sims is the only one not currently on council. The slate will be challenged by Patrick J. Rhoa and Frank Consolo. The top four vote-getters will be seated on the seven-member council.
“It’s been interesting,” said Weizer of her first eight months in office. “I’m sitting on a council that most of the people have been together for a number of years. I’m the odd duck at times, but the pleasant surprise is that people here really do have the city’s best interest at heart.”
A housing expert, Weizer said the city is facing more issues with housing now because the banks are auctioning off foreclosed properties and the house-flippers are moving in. She said her candidacy is partly about dealing with those issues and identifying people at risk of foreclosure so they can be connected to help.
Weizer also supports the city’s point of sale home inspections, which serves the purpose of discouraging property flippers.
Other major issues of the campaign are regionalization and dealing with the city’s namesake John Carroll University, she said.
“It is our largest employer. We have to be honest about that,” said Weizer, “but there’s still a lot of mistrust for which John Carroll is somewhat responsible because of the way they have done things in the past.”
Weizer said university and city issues overlap around the “town and gown” business district.
“What we decide will shape what happens there,” Weizer said.
Weizer is a founding member of the University Heights Citizen Committee for Cedar-Taylor Redevelopment, the neighborhood where she and Baskin live, and worked on the campaign to raise the city’s income tax prior to her appointment.
Weizer was part of the Eleanor Roosevelt Democratic Club, a forerunner to the Cleveland Stonewall Democrats. She was also involved with Dignity, the LGBT Catholic group, and appeared on local TV news talking about gay and lesbian issues during the Reagan administration.
According to Weizer, no one has ever brought up her being lesbian or her 16-year relationship with Baskin in the context of her service or her candidacy.
“I don’t even know if most voters know,” said Weizer. “I don’t walk around wearing signs that say ‘lesbian.’ ” Baskin, however, campaigns with Weizer and they talk about their life together with voters.
“At a block party a gay man came up to me and told me that his daughter told him he should vote for me because I am a lesbian,” Weizer said. “I told him I hope he would instead vote for me because he agrees with me.”
“And if someone is so small-minded that they don’t vote for me because I’m a lesbian, that’s not my problem. I will pray for them,” said Weizer.
Weizer added that being a gay activist, especially during the Reagan administration and at the beginning of the AIDS crisis, helped prepare her for being on city council.
“Gays and lesbians have to try to find new ways around obstacles,” Weizer said. “When I look at what we had to do years ago to survive, or do anything, we had to protect ourselves, and I think we did a pretty good job.”
Weizer joins Bill Brownson, a Republican seeking a city council seat in Columbus, among Ohio’s LGBT candidates. A third gay candidate, Bill Minckler, is running for mayor of the Columbus suburb of Bexley.
Minckler declined an interview with the Gay People’s Chronicle, citing a busy schedule and no time.
If elected, the three will join five other LGBT elected officials in Ohio, including city councilors Joe Santiago in Cleveland, Nickie Antonio in Lakewood, and Mark Tumeo in Cleveland Heights. Other gay officeholders include Haskins mayor Kenneth Fallows and Dayton school board member Joe Lacey.
Oberlin city councilor Eve Sandberg will not seek re-election and is leaving office at the end of this year.