On October 25, 2017, the Council On Older Persons (COOP), in collaboration with Eliza Bryant Village, hosted the Senior Forum with Cleveland’s mayoral candidates: incumbent Mayor Frank G. Jackson and challenger City Councilman Zack Reed. The event was held at Eliza Bryant Village, the oldest senior living facility for African Americans in the country. (Eliza Bryant Village has been a long-standing member of COOP.) The forum was moderated by retired WKYC journalist Tom Beres. Attendance exceeded 60 people, and was comprised of Eliza Bryant residents, elected officials, advocates, and representatives from senior organizations across the city.
The program opened with welcoming remarks from Danny Williams, executive director of Eliza Bryant, followed by comments from COOP Vice Chair Catherine Ciha. The first half of the program was a conversation with Tom Beres and Mayor Jackson. They discussed the current state of the city, describing economic momentum that has taken place in numerous neighborhoods across the city including building up the tax base, as well as the Mayor’s future plans to continue that momentum. He spoke about successes during his terms, including the successful recruitment and hosting of the RNC. Mayor Jackson then provided insight on his administration’s successes on issues important to seniors, including housing and transportation, as well as some of future plans to help seniors who are in need. The audience then had a chance to ask questions, which touched on a number of issues, including public transportation, housing, and safety. Residents were especially interested in learning more about the issue of dirt bikes and how the proposed track would alleviate the concerns around reckless bikers.
After a brief intermission, the second half of the program was a conversation with Councilman Reed and Tom Beres. Councilman Reed’s comments touched on issues regarding seniors, including safety, food insecurity, and the current condition of city infrastructure. He also highlighted successes in both his professional and personal life surrounding care for seniors.
Overall, attendees expressed an appreciation for the opportunity to hear from the candidates themselves, as well as to speak with them both one-on-one both before and after their designated speaking times. Moving forward, COOP will continue to provide opportunities for seniors and senior organizations to interact with public officials.
Special thanks to all those who volunteered and helped to put the Senior Forum together.