Mayor Elkins to Leave RTA Board Despite a Tremendously Productive First Term, County Payback Machine at Work

Parma Heights mayor elected to RTA board of trustees

Updated Dec 10; Posted Dec 10

By Grant Segall, The Plain Dealer

Mayor Michael Byrne of Parma Heights today thwarted the re-election of Mayor Trevor Elkins of Newburgh Heights to the board of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority.

Members of the Cuyahoga County Mayors and City Managers Association voted today for Byrne to replace Elkins as one of the group’s three representatives on the RTA board. Byrne will start a three-year term in March.

During Elkins’ three years with RTA, he helped delay a proposed fare hike, questioned outsourcing, and vainly pushed for a local sales tax hike. He also helped work out the departure last March of long-time President George Dixon III amid allegations of taking undeserved RTA heathcare benefits and the phasing out of former General Manager Joe Calabrese, now a senior advisor due to leave in 2020.

After today’s vote, Elkins said, “I believe I got elected to shake things up. That’s what I did.”

But he said he lost his re-election bid “because I’m too willing to speak up and tell people what’s really going on. We live in a county where that’s not really welcome.”

Byrne said, “It wasn’t that I was running against Mayor Elkins.” He said that he’s been thinking about joining the board for a while and considers public transit important to Parma Heights, mostly a bedroom community and also home to part of Cuyahoga Community College’s western campus.

He graduated from Padua Franciscan High School and Cleveland State University. He joined Parma Heights City Council in 1998 and became mayor in 2010.