From the desk of Mayor Sam Alai

Greetings! Between the recent election and all the holiday activities, we have been very busy at City Hall lately. First, I’d like to congratulate all of the recently elected and re-elected North Royalton and Brecksville-Broadview Heights school board members, as well as our Broadview Heights council members. A lot of time and effort goes into running a campaign, and a multitude of people help candidates with lit-drops, mailers, fundraisers, etc. Unless you’ve run for an elected position, you probably don’t really know how much work it is.

When I look back at my first campaign for mayor in 2007, I can still see my wife, children, siblings, in-laws and friends sitting on the floor in my living room and family room. Every time we got together, we stuffed and stamped envelopes, wrote ads, organized literature drops, etc. Although it was a lot of work, the memory that sticks with me the most is the laughter. We’d order pizzas, listen to music and tell funny stories. It was one of the best times of my life. When I won that first mayoral election in 2007, I was exhausted. We all were. But the feeling of gratitude for the people who believed in my vision for BVH, whether it was the voters or the scores of people who helped me, was honestly overwhelming. So as I enter my fifth term as your mayor, I want to simply say thank you. Thank you to all of the friends who have helped me with campaigns through the years. Thank you to the businesses and churches who have welcomed me into their groups. Thank you to all of the schools who invite me every year to speak to students, attend assemblies and participate in planning processes that affect all of the children in our community. Thank you to the employees with whom I’ve worked in the past 20 years. Your hard work, new ideas and collaborative approach is why Broadview Heights is such a great place to be.

Thank you to city council for your open-mindedness, friendship and hard work on behalf of our residents. And thank you, finally, to my family. Whether it’s a campaign year or any of the years in-between, their support never waivers. Being the mayor is a 24/7 job, so I sometimes have to miss family events or structure vacations around my work calendar. My wife and children know how much I enjoy my job, so their patience and understanding mean so much to me.

Secondly, if you were able to attend our Winter Fest event on Dec. 2, you were treated to some wonderful events. Starting this year, we were able to return to our tradition of hosting a fun-filled afternoon on our campus that included family-friendly activities, fireworks and a visit from Santa. Thank you, also, to Amanda Hutcheson, director of parks and recreation, and her team for the fantastic array of activities that were offered to our community. Thank you to City Clerk Lisa Putka, Service Director Dave Schroedel, and the entire Service Department for all of their hard work on the lights. They look fantastic. As always, our employees’ dedication to providing exceptional activities and services to Broadview Heights is unmatched. How lucky we are to have them!

In closing, I’d like to wish all of you a blessed holiday season. Regardless of your traditions, I hope that you all enjoy your time with treasured friends and family. At our house, we will remember those we’ve lost, but more importantly, we will cherish their dedication to building a family that grows each year. With each new birth and wedding, our circle widens and our traditions are passed to a new generation. As you spend the holidays with your own circle of family and friends, know that all of us at City Hall and on City Council wish you health and happiness. ∞

About 10 days ago, we commemorated the 22nd anniversary of one of the most somber days in our country’s history, 9/11. Even though it’s been more than two decades since that fateful day, in some ways, it still feels like yesterday. Each year at this time, I think about all the people who perished that day, as well as their family members. The passage of time does not erase their loss. With each new birth, wedding, birthday, and graduation, they are reminded of the devastating loss they suffered in 2001.

Just as my parents often reminisced about where they were when John F. Kennedy died in 1963, my wife and I think about where we were on 9/11. Our children were in school, with the exception of our younger son, who was at the dentist with my wife, Terry. As she listened to the overhead radio in the office, she heard an obviously upset newscaster interrupt the music and announce that a plane had just crashed into one of the Twin Towers. As we talked on the phone, another plane hit. It was at that moment that I realized it was not an accident. It was a terrorist attack. My heart sank as I thought about the people in the towers, on the planes and the people on the ground in New York City.

We received word from the Brecksville-Broadview Heights superintendent that our children were safe, but as we listened to the barrage of news reports, our concern shifted to the safety of our oldest son, who attended St. Ignatius High School. Because he was in a location that we thought might be vulnerable to subsequent attacks, I jumped in the car and drove downtown to retrieve him. Once of all of our children were safely home with us that day, we, like every other person around the world, were glued to our television. The devastating loss of life was unfathomable, but the one constant was the endless coverage of first responders and our fellow citizens helping each other, which was truly inspirational.

As the mayor and safety directory of Broadview Heights, I have been given the privilege of working with the highly-dedicated and well-trained members of our fire and police departments. Without question, these folks’ top priority is all of us. No matter the challenge, they face it with professionalism, compassion and level heads. Every week I hear from a resident about something positive that one of our firefighters or police officers did, always accomplished with a respectful tone and an obvious concern for whomever is in the challenging situation. I’m sure that I speak for all of us when I say that our entire community extends its sincerest gratitude to Chief Steven Raiff and the police department, as well as Chief Jeffery Hajek and the fire department. How blessed we are to have them all watching over us!

In closing, I’d like to welcome Jeff Harrison, the new superintendent of the Brecksville-Broadview Heights City School District. I had an opportunity to meet Jeff when I was invited to speak to the BBH staff at their convocation last month, as well as when he came to introduce himself at a recent council meeting. I am very confident that Jeff will bring a breath of fresh air to our students, parents and the staff. City Council and I look forward to a renewed relationship with BBH as he leads us into a new era of collaboration and open communication. ∞