Schriver to voters: 'I'm no politician'

Posted 5/19/18

There is an old adage in politics that states one must campaign in poetry, but govern in prose. However, Cleveland mayoral candidate Duane Schriver proudly rejects that notion.

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Schriver to voters: 'I'm no politician'


There is an old adage in politics that states one must campaign in poetry, but govern in prose. However, Cleveland mayoral candidate Duane Schriver proudly rejects that notion.

“I want to be the citizens’ candidate, not a politician,” Schriver said. And like the former educator and coach he is, Schriver’s manner of speaking is direct, peppered with praise, and comes along with a dose of some constructive criticism. It may not be campaign poetry, but it is definitely prose.

His résumé  shows he has worn many career hats over the years: teacher, school principal, coach, administrator, curriculum supervisor, publishing consultant, foundation director, and, if he gets his way … the next mayor of Cleveland.

Schriver often says that he’s not a politician, and his career background reflects that claim. And that claim is a bonus, Schriver said.

“I spent 42 years as an educator … 48 if you count the time I volunteered after I retired,” Schriver said. “I’ve also worked with 40 different service organizations in my community.”

Schriver is comfortable in leadership roles. He has taught in elementary school, taught high school science; coached high school sports; including football, baseball and golf; was an assistant school principal and school principal; president of the Lions Club; was director of the Bradley-Cleveland Public Education Foundation and the list goes on.

“I’m a common citizen, but I feel my educational background as a principal means I know how to make things run smoothly,” Schriver said.

He is accustomed to winning, too. He is a member of the Wrestling Hall of Fame, Wrestling Coach of the Year, Golf Coach of the Year and won two education awards from Lee University. In addition, as wrestling coach Schriver and his teams have won district titles, regional titles and a state championship.

He loves Cleveland and raised his family here. Schriver has been married to his wife, Sheila, for 48 years, and they have two daughters, Kristin and Sydney. He graduated from the University of Tennessee in 1969 and also earned a master’s degree from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 1978.

“I’ve been at every level in education, and I want to pay back my community for the privilege of working with its young people,” said Schriver, who added that former students keep in touch with him and often specifically enrolled their children in a school where he was principal, because they desired for them to have the same positive experiences they experienced as young students.

“Even the kids I taught back in the '70s … the ones I disciplined or expelled would walk in the door with their own children and tell me they wanted them to go to my school,” Schriver said while chuckling at the memory. “They would say they knew they were pains in the neck when they were young, but they always said I was fair.”

His former students keep in touch with him and are excited about his mayoral bid.

“I had five [former] students text me recently about my campaign,” Schriver said.

Schriver said Cleveland is a fortunate city and envisions a bright future. But that future is threatened if the city does not address problems with traffic and parking.

“One of the key things that we have to be concerned about in our community is the infrastructure, the roads. We are so fortunate because economically we are so well off, but we’ve got so many problems with our community as far as those roads.”

Schriver said traffic on 25th Street is the most serious in the community.

“It backs up," Schriver said. “I have seen it; if you happen to be down there on a Friday afternoon when you come into town, you would think, ‘What have I done?’ because the traffic is so backed up.”

Schriver believes the city needs to be more proactive in addressing roadway congestion. He said the current mayor has done a good job guiding the city through its steady growth over the past two decades, but feels there is much more to do in addressing the challenges that have come along with that expansion.

“We need to be ahead of the game, but we’ve been behind the game, so far,” said the former coach.

“We lost a great opportunity in 2012. This is one of the situations that really has concerned me and many other people. We were No. 1 on the list in the state of Tennessee with grants — $15 million — to go solve the problem at 25th Street and Ocoee, and fix that by turning that intersection into a two-lane turn on every stop … [we need] four lanes going all ways.” 

Schriver is also worried about traffic congestion that may occur when Candy’s Creek Cherokee Elementary School opens next year.

"We’ve got a new school opening in 2019. There won’t be any roadwork done before then; it should already been done. We’ve got three schools within a mile-and-a-half and the traffic situation over the next five years is going to be horrendous."

He added, "And at the present time, they’re talking about doing some intersection work. This summer they [the city] have about a $9.5 million project on the books, and they’ve got grants for it, which is great. People have been working hard; we are so fortunate. They have been trying to do some things to help the community. But what they’re going to do temporarily is fix these intersections (on 25th Street).”

Schriver said the new school opening will present additional traffic problems.

“They’re going to do some work on Candies Lane, but what that’s going to turn into is that’s going to be the bypass to Highway 60, because people are going to be so tied up in [the traffic] that they’re going to be looking for ways to go around, so the bypass is going to be down from Highway 60 beyond Hopewell and beyond that, and it’s going to create more and more problems.”

Schriver feels the city should have planned better for any traffic flow problems that he suspects will bedevil commuters when the new elementary school becomes the third school in that area.

Despite his leadership and administrative background, Schriver said he is aware his campaign is facing an uphill battle.

“Our campaign is not rich, and we can’t roll out the big guns like (Gov. Bill) Haslam. That’s great for them, but we’re on a shoestring here and we’re working hard. We’re trying not to make use of that,” Schriver said. “I’m not a career politician, and it’s time we had a candidate who represented the interests of all citizens.”

Schriver’s mention of Haslam is in reference to an appearance the governor made Friday in Cleveland with Schriver’s opponent, state Rep. Kevin Brooks who was also endorsed by Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland after the mayor announced his intention to retire from office. Brooks was present during Rowland’s announcement. For Schriver, the joint appearance resembled a coronation.

“The anointing process was not a positive thing. When the mayor [implied], ‘I’m not running and now here is my replacement,’ that was not a positive thing,” Schriver said. "People were not pleased with that. It was a kick in the gut to the citizens, and it was not in the best interest of the citizens to do that. It was as if the mayor said, ‘Here’s the gavel, let’s go make the drapes.’”

Schriver said he holds no animosity toward Brooks. But for Schriver, his opponent is a politician. And that is something Schriver is proud that he is not. He thinks of himself as just a common citizen who wants to give back to the city.

“I like Brooks,” Schriver said. “My wife worked with him at Lee University. It has nothing to do with the individual. But this [the office of mayor] doesn’t need a politician. It needs a citizen.”

While Schriver is not new to leadership roles and working with people, he is new to campaigning and tweeting.

“I sent my first tweet the other day,” Schriver said with a hint of satisfaction.

As for campaigning, Schriver isn’t one to rub elbows with the rich and influential. He prefers much more to be out among the citizens.

“I’m trying to get my name out there. We’ve made announcements on Facebook and Twitter about where I will be appearing,” Schriver said. "I like to talk to people, and I like to post where I will be and not post photos about where I’ve been. I’m excited about the people who are coming to see us.”

Schriver said he wants everyone to feel they are a part of his campaign.

“I want everyone to feel important,” Schriver said. “I’m counting on these people to step up for us.”


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