Joe Cimperman

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Joe Cimperman
Joe Cimperman.jpg
Joe Cimperman in October 2011
Born Cleveland, Ohio
Residence Cleveland, Ohio
Alma mater John Carroll University
Occupation City Council Member
Political party Democratic

Joe Cimperman (born circa 1970) is an American Democratic politician who serves as a member of the City Council of Cleveland Ohio, representing Ward 3. He is currently the chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee and is a member of the Community and Economic Development, Legislation and Public Parks, Property and Recreation Committees.

Early life and education[edit]

Cimperman was born in Cleveland to a Slovenian family that was active in the city's Slovenian community located in the St. Clair-Superior neighborhood on Cleveland's east-side. He graduated in 1988 from St. Ignatius High School, a Jesuit college-prep school on Cleveland's near-west side. He attended John Carroll University, a Jesuit institution on the city's east side, where he served as the Student Union President during the 1991–1992 term.[1] His senior year, the student body also voted Cimperman as the Beaudry Award winner, an award for Christian leadership, academic achievement, and contributions to the university.[2] While at John Carroll University, Cimperman founded Project GOLD, an international award-winning service organization dedicated to helping underprivileged families.[3] He graduated in 1992 with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in English.[4]

Cimperman considered a vocation as a Catholic priest. His sister is a nun in San Antonio, Texas.[5]

Early career[edit]

After graduating from John Carroll University in 1992, Cimperman continued to devote himself to low-income individuals by working with the "I Have a Dream Foundation," a program designed to provide opportunities to low-income children interested in pursuing higher education.

Cimperman contributed two years of service to the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, working with developmentally challenged adults in Portland, Maine and at the Don Miller AIDS Hospice in Baltimore, Maryland. Following the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, Cimperman returned to his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio to serve as an outreach worker at the Westside Catholic Center.

Political career[edit]

Cimperman was first elected to City Council in 1997,[5] representing the 13th Ward, which includes the areas of St. Clair-Superior, Midtown, Downtown, Tremont, Ohio City/Near West, Duck Island, and Forest City Park neighborhoods of Cleveland.[3] In 2001, Cimperman was unopposed in the general election.[6] In 2005, he won reelection by a wide margin of 74%/26% over Laurel Warnke-Taylor.[7] Cimperman ran unopposed in the 2009 general election.[8]

As Councilman[edit]

As Ward 3 Councilman for the City of Cleveland, Cimperman has focused on creating a supportive environment for the arts and culture community, maintaining and improving Cleveland's Euclid Corridor, and creating new green spaces throughout Ward 3. Cimperman has worked diligently to create new and strengthen existing block clubs, fostering a stronger sense of community, civic pride, and resident engagement.[3]

Urban agriculture and food policy[edit]

Cimperman was actively involved in the creation of City of Cleveland Ordinance Number 1172-05, which created an "Open Space & Recreation Zoning District". Adopted in 2005 and established as part of the zoning code, the ordinance gives the city the ability to reserve lands for parks, recreation facilities and open space.[9] The zoning classification ensures that public parks, public recreation areas and other public natural areas, as well as waterfront and waterway uses are located and protected in a way that meets community needs for recreation, scenic enjoyment, and environmental enhancement.[10]

Cimperman is a proponent of urban agriculture in the City of Cleveland and believes it is a step toward creating food justice and food security for low-income residents lacking access to healthy food. In 2007, the City of Cleveland created the nation's first zoning code for urban agriculture when it adopted "Urban Garden Zoning Districts;" a piece of legislation in which Cimperman was highly instrumental.[11] Under the new zoning code, the City has the ability to reserve land for garden use, permitting the sale of produce at farmers' markets. Public notice and public hearings are required to change the zoning to permit building on an urban garden site.[12]

In 2009, Cimperman sponsored an ordinance known as the "chicken-and-bees" legislation.[13] Under the "Chicken and Bee" Zoning classification, most residents are allowed to keep up to six chickens, ducks or rabbits and two beehives in a backyard or on small vacant lots.[14] Cimperman, an advocate for food justice, cites the growing trend of urban agriculture and the need for residents to be able to grow their own food. Residents wishing to keep animals on their property must apply to the City of Cleveland's Health Department for a license. Cimperman also cites the need for this type of legislation to assist with the City's problem of a vacant, blighted and abandoned housing stock.[13]

With the help of Cimperman, legislature was written and "Urban Agriculture Overlay Districts." An Urban Agriculture Overlay District would allow the City to designate areas for larger-scale farming activities, permitting a greater intensity of animal raising and permitting larger animals. However, it would limit larger-scale farming to areas specifically designated through city ordinances adopted by City Council through a rezoning process. The adoption of Urban Agriculture Overlay Districts is currently pending.[12]

Through a collaborative effort with the George Gund Foundation, the Downtown Cleveland Alliance and the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Food Policy Coalition, Cimperman helped implement a program in which farmers' markets located in Cleveland accept the Ohio Direction Card, a form of social assistance. The program allows Ohio Direction Card holders to use their cards at area farmers' markets and receive an extra five dollars. The program is funded through a $10,000 grant from the George Gund Foundation.[15]

Human rights[edit]

Cimperman tirelessly advocates for human rights. Since taking office, Cimperman has been a leader in working toward increasing the legal rights of the lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender (LGBT) community.

In 2008, Cimperman introduced legislation for the creation of a domestic partner registry for gay and straight couples in the City of Cleveland. The registry is a step in gaining rights for gay and straight couples wishing to obtain rights and benefits offered by employers. It promotes equality and allows domestic partners to sign a statement and affirm that they are each other's sole partner.[16]

Cimperman advocated for an anti-discrimination ordinance barring discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression. Co-sponsoring the ordinance with several other councilmen, the City of Cleveland joined other major Ohio cities by passing legal protections for transgender persons.[17]

In 2011, Cimperman sponsored an ordinance, that was passed by Cleveland City Council, that offers domestic partner benefits for city employees. However, it is limited to individuals in the domestic partner registry prior to a specific date. Other workers can have their partners added to benefits at an annual cost.[18]

Community health and wellness[edit]

Cimperman, in collaboration with MetroHealth, the Sisters of Charity Hospital System, University Hospitals-Case Medical Center and the Cleveland Clinic, introduced a resolution to spur Cleveland to become healthier and fitter.[19] Known as, Healthy Cleveland,[20] Resolution No. 257-11 would make the city government a full partner in a collaborative effort by Greater Cleveland's four largest hospital systems to improve the health of city residents.[21]

Cimperman believes in healthy eating and a balanced diet. Cimperman strongly champions for food justice for low-income and minority residents, citing the disparities in health between inner-city and suburban residents. Cimperman sees the connection between food and the issues of social, economic, and racial justice.[22]

Congressional campaign[edit]

In December 2007, Cimperman entered the race for the Democratic nomination for Ohio's 10th Congressional District, which was represented by veteran politician Dennis Kucinich. Cimperman's aggressive campaign was one factor in Kucinich's decision to drop out of the Presidential election on January 25, 2008. A few days later financial disclosure reports revealed that Cimperman had nearly a 5 to 1 lead in campaign funds.[23]

Cimperman's campaign tapped into the growing sentiment in Greater Cleveland that Dennis Kucinich's second consecutive long-shot bid for the Presidency was distracting the Congressman from focusing on issues such as the local economy. Cimperman highlighted the votes missed by Dennis Kucinich during his run for the Presidency, as well as the fact that the vast majority of funds raised by Kucinich came from outside the State of Ohio.

Cimperman, in a crowded field of five candidates, received 35% of the vote. Kucinich received 52% of the vote total, a far lower percentage of the vote than the Congressman received in previous Democratic primaries.


Although he enjoys a strong following with his constituency, he has frequently received threatening calls and email messages. In July 2008, a fire destroyed Cimperman's home in the Tremont neighborhood and was investigated as "suspicious"[24] and later ruled as arson.[25] Less than a week later, the family's garage was broken into and his wife's car was vandalized.[26] As of May 2009, no one has been charged for the arson.[27]

In 2009, Ohio Ethics Commission reports revealed that Cimperman received more than 350 gifts in 2008, more than all of his fellow city council members combined. However, many of the gifts appear to be related to the birth of his daughter and the fire in his home.[27]

Personal life[edit]

Cimperman currently lives in the Ohio City Neighborhood of Ward 3 with his wife and children and enjoys talking with and listening to its constituents.[28]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c "Cleveland City Council". 
  4. ^ The Carroll Experience John Carroll Magazine Fall 2009 (Accessed November 14, 2009)
  5. ^ a b Brandon Glenn Executive Chatter with Councilman Joe Cimperman Crane's Cleveland Business, December 29, 2005 (Accessed November 14, 2009)
  6. ^ [1] 2001 General Election Results (Accessed November 14, 2009)
  7. ^ [2] 2005 General Election Results (Accessed November 14, 2009)
  8. ^ "Cuyahoga County Board of Elections". Cuyahoga County Board of Elections. Retrieved 2011-12-16. 
  9. ^ "Cleveland's Zoning for Urban Agriculture and Green Space" (PDF). City of Cleveland. 
  10. ^ "Cleveland, OH Code of Ordinances". American Legal Publishing Corporation. 
  11. ^ "Cleveland's Food Justice Hero: Councilman Joe Cimperman". Civil Eats. July 27, 2011. Retrieved December 20, 2011. 
  12. ^ a b "City of Cleveland Planning Commission" (PDF). 
  13. ^ a b "Cleveland Council approves urban farming, teardown of foreclosed homes". The Plain Dealer. 
  14. ^ "Cleveland' Zoning for Urban Agriculture and Green Space" (PDF). City of Cleveland. 
  15. ^ "Ohio Direction Card Will Soon Be Able to Be Used at Local Farmers Markets". The Cleveland Leader. 
  16. ^ "Gay Domestic Partnership Registry Introduced in Cleveland". On Top Magazine. 
  17. ^ "Council to vote on TG bias law this month". 
  18. ^ "Partners Added to Cleveland Health Plan". 
  19. ^ "Cleveland unveils citywide health initiative, partnering with area's major hospitals.". The Plain Dealer. 
  20. ^ "Resolution No. 257-11" (PDF). Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Food Policy Coalition. 
  21. ^ "Cleveland is about to sign on to a project aimed at helping residents change their life shortening ways". The Plain Dealer. 
  22. ^ "Putting hunger and health on the political menu". The Oregonian. May 24, 2011. 
  23. ^ Karl Turner Cimperman takes fundraising lead over Kucinich in congressional race Cleveland Plain Dealer, January 31, 2008 (Accessed November 14, 2009)
  24. ^ Damon Sims Fire at Councilman Joe Cimperman's home considered suspicious, blaze under investigation Cleveland Plain Dealer, July 28, 2008 (Accessed November 14, 2009)
  25. ^ Mike Tobin FBI investigating arson at Cimperman's home Cleveland Plain Dealer, July 30, 2008 (Accessed November 14, 2009)
  26. ^ Councilman Cimperman's garage broken into, car vandalized, August 03, 2008 (Accessed November 14, 2009)
  27. ^ a b Damon Sims Councilman Joe Cimperman got more gifts than all of colleagues combined Cleveland Plain Dealer, May 9, 2009(Accessed November 14, 2009)
  28. ^ Retrieved 2013-04-04.  Missing or empty |title= (help)

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