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People of the Year: Shaker Heights Taxpayers Union Leader Mark Zetzer

Here's a look at one of the names submitted for our People of the Year contest

Not long after city officials hinted that they might further tax residents, one man persistently challenged local government and tried to talk to them out of an income tax increase.

Thanks to a nomination from Angela Marino, Mark Zetzer is one of the Shaker Heights Patch People of the Year.

"Mark Zetzer worked tirelessly to advocate and educate community leaders and residents on how to return Shaker to a premier community where people want to live, raise their families and grow their businesses," Marino wrote. "He is passionate about Shaker and its potential to return to greatness."

Zetzer formed the Shaker Heights Taxpayers Union this year in hopes of galvanizing residents against a local government he thought was too big and spending too much. The group's major undertaking was a campaign against the 0.5 percent income tax increase. Zetzer made local radio appearances, wrote blogs and placed campaign signs throughout the community through election day.

"He stands by his convictions and is not discouraged by others' fear of change or unwillingness to get involved," Marino wrote. "He has proposed a model of collaboration among residents, elected officials and business owners to make Shaker a leader in the 21st Century."

The increase would go on to pass 64 percent to 36 percent, but Zetzer said he would continue speaking up for Shaker Heights taxpayers.

"We're going to remain," Zetzer told Patch following the election. "We think we have a big job ahead of us to educate residents and voters about how the city and public school system can cut costs, control taxes and grow revenues by growing the tax base instead of just endlessly raising taxes all the time.

"We want to educate."

Mark Zetzer January 04, 2013 at 05:41 PM
Bonnie, please describe to me these Tea Party platitudes I apparently spoke of. I was just trying to add some reason and common sense to the tax issue. From what I gather, the Tea Party movement is not a top-down organization with an agreed-upon plank. While I do sympathize with Tea Party opposition to fiscal irresponsibility, I do not condone -- as I've read that some in the Tea Party have -- foreign wars or corporate welfare, for instance. Furthermore, I am not interested in a poltiical career. I'm simply trying to keep from being pushed out of my home by prohibitive taxation, and was thrust into the limelight to defend my taxpayer group from the threat of a SLAPP lawsuit by City officials. We remain active because much has to be done to revive our fair city and Grow Shaker www.growshaker.org.
Mark Zetzer January 04, 2013 at 05:43 PM
Thanks Mike. Say hi to all the folks back in my original home town of Anderson, Indiana for me!
Derek Abbott January 05, 2013 at 06:05 PM
In a town with the highest tax burden in Ohio, its telling that if you question the spending and whether the government is being fiscally responsible, you are assumed to be in the tea party. Many of us questioning the taxes and finances of the city are not anti-tax. We like our libraries and schools and trash pickup and community services. Many of us are just wondering if there are more efficient ways to do it and maybe shift this enormous tax burden off Shaker residents. While I don't always agree with Mark, I do think he has added a needed voice to Shaker and would be deserving of this honor.
Bonnie J. Gordon January 05, 2013 at 11:28 PM
Mark, thank you for your civilized and earnest tone. I'm afraid I don't remember your exact words; I heard you on Mike McIntyre's show on WCPN over the summer.
Mark Zetzer January 06, 2013 at 03:52 AM
Here's the link to the show Bonnie, if you want to listen to it again. http://www.ideastream.org/soi/entry/48191 I didn't talk as much as the mayor or other politicians on the show; I"m not a professional -- nor even an experienced amateur -- and was rather nervous! However, as an average citizen I'm glad I was able to participate in the discussion.

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