Mike Polensek for the Black community
JAMES W. WADE III | 10/16/2013, 3:40 p.m.
Cleveland City Councilman Mike Polensek is the longest serving councilman in Cleveland history and has done it representing a Black community. Since 1977, when he decided to run against Al Blue, he has consistently maintained his seat.
A 35-year Cleveland City Council member, Polensek has had the honor to serve council since 1978, serving 10 terms as Ward 11’s representative. He has represented Cleveland’s Ward 11 since January 1982, prior to that he represented Ward 26 in the Collinwood and Nottingham communities.
Polensek has a consistent record of progressive civic leadership and is instrumental in development of the Ward 11 community. He served as president of city council from 1999 to 2002. In that position, he worked diligently for his community as well as to create a legislative body that provided strong leadership for all of Cleveland’s neighborhoods.
Through his leadership, council created the Neighborhood Equity Fund, which targeted $21 million for neighborhood development projects in each council ward.
When you talk to Polensek, you can understand how he became the type of out spoken man he is today. Adding laughter to the interview, the long time councilman shared how important the Call & Post Newspaper is in the Black community.
“My grandfather use to read the Call & Post, so I grew up reading it too and have not put it down since I was a kid,” said Polensak.
It seems curious that a white man could represent a ward with 80 percent Blacks in it and still be able to run unopposed. “I am here for the people. I am out 7 days week sitting on porches, taking phone calls, trying to get my residents lights on, I just believe in old politics,” Polensek said.
Over the years, Polensek has always got at least 60 percent of the votes in the community even with opponents.
As a council member, he fulfills his obligation to the people of his community by working with the city’s administration to ensure that the best services are provided to Ward 11. He is proud to be able to serve the neighborhood where he was born and raised and is honored to be able to continue to make a difference in his community.
Not being into all the latest technology, Polensek goes to his people and ask for their support. Being outspoken has, many times, put him in the limelight because he has attacked the criminals in his ward and said some harsh words.
Being considered a dinosaur, he believes in taking care of the people he represents.
“My older residents don’t tweet. They all don’t read emails,” Polensak stated. During election time you can see him out the hanging his own yard signs even though no one is running against him. “I want my residents to see I care. I want them to know I am here for them all year, not just election time,” said Polensek.
Wondering if he was going to run this term was heavy influenced by the latest redistrict lines. Three wards are now separated by three streets. But, Polensek plans to continue being a voice for the people.