WOODMERE — The year 2020 was packed with arguments and gridlock between council members and the administration of Mayor Ben Holbert and ended with a petition to recall Councilwomen Jennifer Mitchell Earley, Lisa Brockwell and Glenda Todd-Miller and Councilman Craig Wade.

A group of residents known as the Woodmere Project collected enough signatures to schedule a recall election for those four council members. The petitioners said that those representatives are not looking out for the best interest of the village. They cited examples such as voting against maintaining the village website, a sidewalk project on Brainard Road and a permit for a family to keep chickens on their property.

After some confusion between village officials and the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections about the validity of the petitions, the original Jan. 19 date for the recall election was rescinded. Ms. Earley and Ms. Brockwell also submitted written protests to the board of elections questioning legal issues with the petitions. Anthony Perlatti, director of the board of elections, said that he is waiting for the council members to schedule a new recall election at their January council meeting now that the petitions have been verified.

Disputes between elected officials and residents came to a boiling point this year. A Finance Committee meeting in November of 2020 was adjourned early due to fighting between the council members and the mayor. At the November council meeting, residents and council members were talking over each other and caused a disruption until the law director dismissed the residents from the meeting.

Former Mayor Charles Smith ran for council in the fall 2019 election and won a seat. He resigned in 2020 after three months. Council selected Tennyson Adams to fill Mr. Smith’s seat. Mr. Adams ran for re-election in the fall 2019 election but did not win a seat at that time.

Village Council recently appointed two new Planning and Zoning Commission members after deciding not to renew terms for David Effron and Chairman Seth Young, both involved in the council recall effort. New commission members are Carolyn Patrick and former Mayor Yolanda Broadie. Under Ms. Broadie’s administration, the village was sued for $2 million by the former police chief in 2008. Ms. Patrick served as council president around the same time.

In June, Woodmere residents organized a vigil in memory of George Floyd, who died in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Mr. Floyd’s death sparked Black Lives Matter protests across the country. The residents gathered at the gazebo in front of Trader Joe’s for a rally after a march down Chagrin Boulevard.

Julie Hullett has been a reporter for the Chagrin Valley Times since August of 2018 and covers Gates Mills, Hunting Valley, Moreland Hills, Orange, Pepper Pike and Woodmere. She graduated from John Carroll University with a journalism degree in 2018.

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