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Kostandaras to lead state group

11/14/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

Nick Kostandaras
Photo courtesy of Summit County Council
RICHFIELD — Summit County Councilman Nick Kostandaras (D-District 1) has worked his way up to the top of the County Commissioners Association of Ohio (CCAO).

Kostandaras, a Richfield resident, will be sworn in as president of the state group Dec. 9. He will serve a one-year term after serving this year as first vice president.

CCAO has been in existence since 1880, according to its website. The organization is a bipartisan group that works on behalf of Ohio’s counties, Kostandaras said.

“CCAO gets involved in all legislative matters pertaining to communities and municipalities, townships and villages, any legislation that affects the way we do business,” Kostandaras said. “We worked hard on getting the expansion of Medicaid. I’m glad to see that.”

He added he’s been active with the group since becoming a Councilman in 2005.

“We work together as a team,” he said. “We work on consensus and … the bottom line is to do the very best we can for the counties.”

Summit County Council members Gloria Rodgers (R-District 3) and Paula Prentice (D-District 8) also are active in CCAO. The organization works closely with Gov. John Kasich, Kostandaras said.

“What’s going on in Washington should not be happening, but it’s happening,” he said. “We do not want to do that in Ohio. We need to work with the governor.”

While Kostandaras is an active Democrat, he said he does not plan to publicly endorse a candidate for governor in the next year because of his role in CCAO. Democrat and Cuyahoga County Executive Ed Fitzgerald is challenging Republican Kasich in next year’s General Election to lead the state.

As president, Kostandaras said he has three priorities, all pertaining to taking care of Ohioans who need help.

“First, I want to make sure veterans are taken care of, and second, people with alcohol, drug and mental issues,” he said.

His third concern is the number of children and adults facing hunger in Ohio.

“There’s no reason why in the richest country in the world that one in every five children goes to bed hungry, and one of every six senior citizens goes to bed hungry,” he said.

Kostandaras will be required to travel to Columbus once or twice a month for CCAO business, he said, but he doesn’t expect that his duties will affect his ability to serve his constituents. District 1 includes the northern and northwest areas of the county, including Richfield, Peninsula and Boston.

At 76, Kostandaras said he has no problem keeping up with his schedule and responsibilities.

“A person has to decide for himself, what is the ultimate goal and what do you want to see done that hasn’t been done,” he said. “That’s why I’m doing what I’m doing. I’m very determined to make sure that people in my county and other counties are well taken care of.

“It’s a matter of putting priorities together and following through,” he added. “Finish what you start and do the best each day for the people that put you here. We all have a purpose in life to do the best we can.”

Kostandaras said his swearing in will take place during CCAO’s winter conference, which takes place Dec. 8-10 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-District 11) is expected to swear him in, he said.

According to the CCAO website, Kostandaras is not the first Summit County official to lead CCAO. Former County Executive Tim Davis served as president in 1997, as did former Commissioner Oren Carter in 1957.

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