In this blog, I periodically feature our colleagues in government so you can get to know us better. Today, we are talking with Councilman Justin Berns.
Justin is no stranger to public service. He comes from a family dedicated to community, his father also serving as a Beachwood City Councilman. In addition to Justin’s role on City Council, he served on the Planning and Zoning Commission and was Co-President of the Beachwood Schools PTO. He also served as a volunteer firefighter for the City of Beachwood for nearly 15 years.
Please take a few minutes to learn more about this life-long Beachwood resident as he shares a bit more about himself in this interview.
Tell us what you liked most about growing up in Beachwood.
As a child and teen, I liked being able to walk to school. I grew up on Beechmont Court in the Shakercrest neighborhood, so I could walk to Fairmount Elementary, the middle school and high school.
As an adult, I love the true sense of community in which friends and neighbors become an integral part of each other’s lives. While it may seem even obvious to mention, I cannot be more impressed and grateful for our outstanding school system, which has been an incredible environment that has helped us raise our three children.
You previously served on Beachwood City Council, filling an unexpired term, and were elected to a full term last November. Why do you want to serve on City Council?
I became a volunteer firefighter for Beachwood in 1992, which I did until 2004. I have an immense passion for Beachwood. I want to help this community prosper and thrive. I want my children to live in a community as good or better than I grew up in and being a member of City Council gives me the opportunity to contribute to an increasingly stronger community.
What do you see as the biggest challenges facing Beachwood today and as we look to the future?
Our biggest challenge is maintaining the fiscal stability of our community. While we are fortunate to have a wonderful business community as our partner, it is critical that we work continuously and tirelessly on maintaining our existing relationships and building new ones.
Tell us about your family.
While many of the members of my extended family do not live within the City of Beachwood, the majority work and are extremely involved within the civic community. On a personal basis, my wife, Lisa, and I are proud parents of three children, Caleb (11), and identical twin daughters, Allie and Sarah (10). Our friends within the community and within our neighborhood have become part of our family. Celebrating events and utilizing our wonderful City facilities has become an extension of our home.
It seems as if public service has always been important in your family. Your father was a councilman and you served as a Beachwood volunteer firefighter. What attracts you to public service?
I feel like I have the ability to help others, whether it be as a volunteer firefighter, a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission, a City Council member or being President and/or Co-President of the Beachwood Schools PTO. I have also learned that it is important to support other people’s leadership roles by being a participant, supporting such organizations and events as The Race, Effective Leadership Academy, the Beachwood Schools PTO and Fairmount Temple.
What are your favorite places to go with your family in Beachwood?
In the summer, the Aquatic Center, hands down. My kids love it there. We also enjoy the close proximity to the Beachwood Park in the Shaker Boulevard median. Not only is it enjoyable for our children, but I love the fact that my kids can enjoy nature and I don’t have to worry about traffic.
Do you and your family have a favorite Beachwood restaurant?
My family’s favorite restaurants are in Beachwood. Shuhei, Tres Potrillos and Red for special occasions. In the warmer months, we like to bike to Mitchell’s for some ice cream.
How did you meet your wife?
Lisa is a surgical intensive care nurse at the Cleveland Clinic Main Campus. She was invited to a wedding of a former patient’s granddaughter. She attended the reception by herself and, when she was leaving, one of the family members of the bride told her that she was going to fix her up with someone that she knew. That someone was me. We went on a blind date and dated until we were married in 2003.
Tell us about your job as a home developer.
A home is the biggest investment most people will make and the center of family life. As a developer and builder, I view my job to be helping create a comfortable place where people can enjoy their lives, raise their children, and relax knowing that work has been performed in a reliable and first-rate manner. Some of my warmest relationships are with people for whom I have built homes and I am humbled that people put their faith in me to help create the place most central to their lives.
Do you have any favorite vacation destinations – places you have either visited or would like to visit?
Anyone who knows me well knows that Disney World is special to me and my family. We visit at least a couple times every year. In addition, I’ve visited Marco Island, Florida, almost every year since I was in elementary school. It’s a beautiful place to relax and fascinating to watch the changes over the past 40 years.