The MAYORAL ADMINISTRATION OF GEORGE V. VOINOVICH (1979-1989) began with the city in default on $110 million of its financial obligations. Republican Mayor Voinovich balanced the city budget, allowing the city to escape from DEFAULT and reorganized the city's administration.
After receiving his J.D. degree from Ohio State University in 1961, Voinovich began his political career as an assistant to the Ohio attorney general in 1962. He held the following offices: Ohio legislature, 1967-71; Cuyahoga County Auditor, 1971-76; Cuyahoga County Commissioner, 1977-78; Ohio Lieutenant Governor; and in 1979, was elected mayor of Cleveland. The following year, the 2-year term for the mayor and city councilmen was increased to 4 years, and Voinovich was reelected Mayor twice holding office until 1989.
When Voinovich became mayor Cleveland was in default. To reduce administrative costs, he organized an Operations Improvement Task Force made up of local private industry executives, the start of Cleveland's Public-Private Partnerships. The city reorganized 10 city departments and set up a new accounting system with internal auditing capability. Highlights of the Voinovich administration included neighborhood revitalization which started with the Lexington Village housing project; $149 million in Urban Development Action Grants leveraged $770 million in private investment; and $3 billion of construction underway or completed. Also during Voinovich's tenure, the National Civil League gave Cleveland its All-American City Award in 1982, 1984, and 1986. Voinovich also supported the development of NORTH COAST HARBOR, the ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME, and the GREAT LAKES SCIENCE CENTER.
An efficient administration in place, Voinovich negotiated a satisfactory debt repayment schedule in Oct. 1980, allowing Cleveland to escape from default (city finances were still supervised by the state of Ohio). Voinovich arranged for capital improvements to strengthen the operation of Cleveland's municipal light plant (renamed Cleveland Public Power). However, the city's economy continued to decline along with the national recession and federal funding was cut. The mayor sought an increase in the city income tax from 1.5% to 2% which voters approved in Feb. 1981. After completing his term as mayor, Voinovich was elected governor of Ohio in Nov. 1990 and 1994.