Cleveland City Council Public Comment
Illustrations by John G. Credit: John G

A year ago, Cleveland City Council started allowing residents to make public comments during regular council meetings. It was the first time in 90 years. 

The change, championed by the resident-led Clevelanders for Public Comment, resulted in council members hearing 183 public comments. Well over two-thirds of the comments were made by city residents, with every ward represented. Comments ranged from a pastor’s plea to replace a guardrail in front of a church to a broad push to decriminalize fare evasion on public transit. Some folks even made a return trip to the microphone to thank council members and the mayor for responding to their concerns. 

Cleveland Documenters spent a year tracking each comment, using the Public Comment CLE site created by our civic tool partner Angelo Trivisonno. Documenter Lauren Hakim recorded where each commenter lived, if they represented a group or organization and the topic of the comment. 

Public comment by the numbers

  • 183 public comments made at Cleveland City Council meetings from October 4, 2021 through Sept. 26, 2022
  • 80.8% of public comments were made by folks who identified Cleveland residents 
  • 22 other (non-Cleveland) cities represented 
  • 55+ organizations, associations, groups, clubs, businesses or businesses owners represented
  • 90+ unique comment topics

Cleveland City Council Public Comment Resources

  • Watch and read the latest City Council public comments at Public Comment CLE, our online tool created by our civic tool partner Angelo Trivisonno.
  • Sign up to make a public comment at Cleveland City Council here.

Click the image below for a printable version of our look at year one of public comment at Cleveland City Council

The numbers on what we heard in a year of public comments at Cleveland City Council. It was the first time public comments were allowed at regular Council meetings in 90 years.
Credit: Lauren Hakim, Rachel Dissell, John G., Paul Rochford / Cleveland Documenters

Cleveland Documenters pays and trains people to cover public meetings where government officials discuss important issues and decide how to spend taxpayer money.

Community and Special Projects Editor (she/her)
Rachel leads our special projects work on topics that demand deeper coverage, and works with Cleveland Documenters and Signal staff to report those stories for wider understanding and accountability. She is our liaison with the Marshall Project in Cleveland where she focuses on including residents' voices in criminal justice reporting. Rachel has reported in Cleveland for more than two decades on stories that have changed laws, policies, hearts and minds. She was part of the team that helped launch Cleveland Documenters in 2020, and she was a John S. Knight Community Impact Fellow in 2021. Dissell is a two-time winner of the Dart Award for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma for narrative stories about teen dating violence and systemic failures with rape investigations.

K-12 Education Reporter (he/him)
Paul, a former City Year Cleveland AmeriCorps member based in a charter school, covered K-12 education for Signal Cleveland until August, 2023. Paul joined us from Cleveland Documenters, where he focused on creating infographics and civic tech to make public information more accessible. Paul is also a musician, photographer and graphic designer.