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Position papers: New Franklin Council at-large representative

10/17/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

Robin Aikey vs. Harry Gehm (incumbent) vs. Judy Jones (incumbent) vs. Andrea Norris

Voters living in New Franklin will vote for three candidates for at-large representative on New Franklin City Council in the Nov. 5 General Election. The race is nonpartisan. The information provided below was submitted by the candidates, with their responses to our questions printed as submitted.


Robin Aikey

Why are you running for Council?

“I am running for Council to have a more active voice in how local decisions impact our community. Despite commuting to Cleveland for my employment and having lived in Europe serving in the United States Army, the uniqueness of New Franklin appealed to me so much it is where I call home.

“I began attending government meetings years ago to become part of my community; to specifically understand how my property taxes were being utilized and the transition of our community from Franklin Township to the City of New Franklin. When asking questions regarding budgets and utilization of tax dollars for the last 10 years, it has resulted in confusion and even more outstanding questions. No one person has all the right answers but I hope to create a more open environment where real solutions can be forged.

“New Franklin residents elect council members to represent them; to be their voice in local government. No matter how big or small the issue at hand will be, I will give it my attention and full understanding to make the right decision for our community. 

“I am volunteering for one of the Council’s three at-large seats because I want to be your voice of reason on all issues impacting our community. As an elected member of the Charter Commission, I know the qualifications, duties and responsibilities of our city officials and government which will enable me to be a resource for you to understand the issues and how the Council will deal …” [Exceeded stated word limit.]

What would be your top three priorities if you took office? Why?

  1. “Sound financial decisions. For many of us, this is the worst economic period in our lifetime so allocating funds for the operations of our city requires sound decision making. All spending commitments should contain a cost benefit analysis that is provided to council in a timely manner. We need to stop authorizing contracts based upon loyalty to an individual or the desire to be neighborly to surrounding communities as in the Village of Clinton Police and Dispatch contract which costs New Franklin more to provide those services than Clinton pays for. Using New Franklin funds to subsidize this contract re-directs taxpayer dollars away from our city funds which support daily government operations.
  2. “Fiscal Responsibility. It is not about the bottom line on financial reports. It’s the numbers that make up the totals. City officials boast of financial carry-over in recent years but this clouds the true efficiencies or deficiencies of government operations. Council members should have a basic understanding of the city’s revenues and expenses.  Our Finance Director manages over a $12 million budget for 2013 but fails to follow a State of Ohio 2011 Audit Material Weakness finding (2011-003) regarding bank reconciliations. Without this report, Council cannot monitor the City’s financial activity.
  3. “Government operations and guidelines. Council members are the voice of the people on how our government operates. Guidelines such as our City Charter were developed to identify the requirements for specific positions in our government structure. For example, the approval of the Finance Director …” [Exceeded stated word limit.]


Harry Gehm (incumbent)

Why are you running for Council?

“I am running for council to insure our community stays rural but prosperous.”

What would be your top three priorities if you were re-elected? Why?

“My number 1 priority is our parks, we need do keep developing our parks to insure fields and soon walking paths for everyone are here to enjoy. I have given ½ of my salary back every year I have been in office to the parks to help with this.

“My number 2 is to see development happen at a controlled pace to insure our rural community stays rural.

“My number 3 is sewer and water, I know its still a ways off but this is something that is coming and would help our community attract business and help keep the lakes cleaner.”


Judy Jones (incumbent)

Why are you running for Council?

“Council at Large for New Franklin City is a job I have enjoyed for the past few years. I try to be a voice for the residents electing me. Being a councilperson for me means deciding how each resident wants me to vote on each issue. I want the New Franklin residents to have a voice on the council they feel represents their needs and wishes. I try to be that voice.”

What would be your top three priorities if you were re-elected? Why?

  1. “Open government..because we all deserve to understand how and why the council makes the choices and decisions we do. Every vote will affect everyone, our job is to select what is best for the whole community. Communities grow through open government.
  2. “Fiscal responsibility....paying close attention to how we spend your money. Are the choices we make benefiting New Franklin? How we can serve our city in the most efficient manner. Constantly questioning our choices to make sure we do the very best for every resident. Planning for our future.
  3. “Making our council meetings more inviting to our residents. I would love to see our meetings better attended. Helping people to get interested in our city government is one of the most important jobs council can do. So many times residents feel they only see us at election time..so I think ,we need to make residents want to attend and interact with the government procedures. The government is for the people.”


Andrea Norris

Why are you running for Council?

“I have always had a deep-rooted sense of community since I moved to Franklin Township as a teenager with my parents. I have lived here ever since and learned that the people in Portage Lakes and Manchester care about one another as neighbors and do their part to make this a nice place to live. I am at a point in my life where I have more time to devote to my community and I want to do that by serving on New Franklin Council. Because of my prior eight years on Summit County Council and my life-long residency in Franklin Township/New Franklin, I feel I can be of service to the community.”

What would be your top three priorities if you took office? Why?

  1. “I want to see New Franklin remain fiscally sound. Mayor Bollas and the current council members have done a very good job managing the City’s funds and maintaining a large cash balance. Good financial management is particularly important in these times where the state and federal government have cut back on assistance to local governments. I bring the financial experience of running my own business for 25 years and 8 years of being in County government.
  2. “I want to maintain the strength and vitality of our safety forces — police and fire. How many of us can tell a story about how the fire department employees helped save a life with their quick, efficient response? How many other police departments could have solved the three tragic homicides that recently occurred in our community within two days of when the murders were committed? Our safety forces are the backbone of this community and I want to see them remain strong and viable.
  3. “I want to continue the development of our parks and ballfields. Mayor Bollas and the current council members have done a great job getting ownership of the Tudor House and Sisler Field and adding them as New Franklin parks. The walking and exercise trails being developed around the Administration Building and Miracle Field are another great addition to our parks system. I want to see those parks enhanced so that our seniors and our families have places to enjoy right here in our own community.”
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