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Akron Council chooses new Ward 3 rep

1/10/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Stephanie Kist

New Akron City Council Ward 3 representative Margo Sommerville is shown above being sworn in for the seat previously held by her father, Marco Sommerville, shown holding a Bible, by Summit County Probate Court Judge Elinore Marsh Stormer during the Jan. 7 meeting.
Photo: Stephanie Kist
DOWNTOWN AKRON — Margo Sommerville took her place on Akron City Council Jan. 7 after unanimously being approved as the new Ward 3 representative.

Margo Sommerville is the new Ward 3 representative.
And while she will sit in a chair previously occupied by her father, Marco, the longtime Ward 3 councilman and Council president who resigned late last year, she said she looks to bring fresh ideas to Council and create her own name there.

She was assured by Mayor Don Plusquellic her last name would earn her no special treatment.

“I think everyone needs to look at you as your own individual, and we’re going to be doing that,” Plusquellic said.

Plusquellic appointed Marco Sommerville as the city’s new planning director in December, effective Jan. 1. He subsequently stepped down as Council president and resigned his Council seat, which he held for more than 25 years.

There were 11 applicants for the vacated seat, two of whom were disqualified because they reside in Ward 4. Screening Committee Chairman Ken Jones (D-Ward 5) said there were some good and some exceptional candidates. The committee made its selection over a rigorous two days, he said.

“I am truly humbled, and I am honored,” Margo Sommerville said, addressing Council from her new seat. She said she is excited and looking forward to working with and learning from her fellow Council members and demonstrating her commitment to the city in which she grew up.

Sommerville has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and a master’s degree in public administration/urban studies from The University of Akron. She is a licensed funeral director and vice president of Sommerville Funeral Services Inc.

In other business, Council approved a resolution “urging the United States Congress and Ohio General Assembly to enact meaningful and reasonable gun control laws, education initiatives and solutions to end gun violence in schools and public areas.”

The resolution is in response to the Dec. 14 school shooting in Newtown, Conn., and to gun violence on the streets of Akron and calls for responsible gun ownership consistent with the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens.

Councilman Mike Freeman (D-Ward 9), who said he is a gun owner himself and a supporter of the Second Amendment, helped sponsor the legislation and said it is “very reasonable” and doesn’t deny constitutional rights. He is troubled, he said, by the appearance and proliferation of “guns that no one would ever take into the woods.”

“There is no need for assault weapons to be on the streets anywhere in America,” added Councilwoman Linda Omobien (D-at large).

Omobien, who has made a career in the mental health services field, noted the alleged perpetrators in mass shootings such as the recent events in Connecticut and the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., appear to be mentally ill.

“Most mentally ill persons are not violent,” she stressed. “I worked in the business for 37 years, and this is not the norm.”

Council also approved legislation:

• celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation;

• opposing the application for a liquor license for a location at 949 N. Main St. Councilman James Hurley (D-Ward 1) said it is a problematic location and nearby small-business owners are opposed to another bar opening at that location; and

• authorizing the application for federal funding to support permanent supportive housing and transitional housing initiatives in the city. Planning officials expect to receive $3.9 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which is a decrease from last year and not enough to cover all requests for funding from applying agencies, said Comprehensive Planning Manager Helen Tomic.

The next Akron City Council meeting is set for Jan. 14 at 7 p.m. in City Council Chambers on the third floor of the Akron Municipal Building, 166 S. High St. Committee meetings are set to begin at 2 p.m. that afternoon, also in Council Chambers.

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