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Elections

Akron City Council, at-large representative

10/31/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Stephanie Kist

Jeff Fusco (incumbent) vs. Karl Johnson vs. Chris Kormushoff vs. Linda Omobien (incumbent) vs. Linda Robinson vs. Michael Williams (incumbent)

Voters living in Akron will vote for three candidates for Akron City Council at-large representative on the Nov. 5 General Election ballot. The information provided below was submitted by the candidates, with their responses to our questions printed as submitted. Republican Linda Robinson did not respond to our request for information by the state deadline.

 

Jeff Fusco (incumbent)

Political affiliation: Democrat

Why are you running for Council?

“I have dedicated my career to public service. The following are just few of the reasons why I have decided to run for re-election. The City of Akron has always been a great place to live and raise a family. A strong core city is essential to survival of the region. The city is made up of neighborhoods which are made up of families.

“Unfortunately, budgetary decreases from Federal and State governments coupled with the increased unfunded mandates from these entities have made the job of local public servant more challenging than ever. 

“I have been blessed with a long career of seeing what works and what doesn’t. What makes sense and what doesn’t? These experiences are valuable now more than ever in terms of making decisions that affect our daily lives. 

“The biggest reason why I have decided to run for re-election is my family, especially my three grand children. It’s about Akron’s families and mine.”

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

“First and foremost Economic Development has to be a priority if we hope to remain competitive in this global market. Create environments that attract new business, new ideas and support our local business community.

“The responsibility of a city council person is to ensure that we have enough budget to support and create these environments. Our responsibility continues to be one of working with business and government. My background in Real Estate and Government provides a unique combination of experience in addressing these issues.

“Secondly, our budget remains a top priority; we have received significant cuts from both the Federal and State governments. Conversely, seeing increased unfunded mandates.

“The last time the city of Akron had seen an increase in its income tax rate was in the 1970’s for city operations. Our survival will depend on our continued ability to work with other governmental entities as well as finding new ways to maintain and increase services while cutting expenses.

“Finally, our Combined Sewer Overflows continue to be a major concern. It’s not unreasonable to expect Akron to continue to improve our sewer system (Already invested over $300 mill in last 20 years and reduced the EPA’s mandate by 33%). Over 600 cities are dealing with this problem as well.

“It’s ABSURD and UNREASONABLE to expect Akron to have to go way above and beyond EPA expectations. Unfortunately, we have a Federal Judge that is demanding we do so.”

 

Karl Johnson

Political affiliation: Republican

Why are you running for Council?

“I have a strong desire to serve our city. We are blessed to live in a vibrant, beautiful city with great potential for the future. I would like to play a part in that future. I also am trying to set an example for others to encourage them to become more active in our community.

“There are 10 ward seats, 3 at large seats, the Clerk Of Council and the Mayor. All 15 of those city officials are of the same political party. Now no matter which party you are in, that just does not seem right. I want to provide some political diversity for City Council.

“I also have many thoughts on the specific issues facing Akron today:

“-Crime in our neighborhoods

“-The school system.

“-The bloated city budget

“-The over 800 million dollar sewer system repair project

“-City assets like hotels and steam plants.

“-And yes, food trucks

“The solutions to all these issues are better found when you have true debate with input from all sides.  (Well except for food trucks, come on what is so tough about this issue. What part of the free market do we not understand?)”

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

  1. “To provide some diversity in the Council. I want to be a new voice for the people of Akron. The Council is far too one sided to have any real and meaningful debate on almost any issue. I will promote better results from our city government by ensuring that all sides are heard from.
  2. “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs. I want to do everything I can to attract new companies and encourage established companies to stay and grow in Akron. High employment rates benefit the city on many levels from a larger tax base to lower crime levels to more family stability.
  3. “Neighborhoods Count. I am currently, and will continue to make regular visits to all the various neighborhoods in Akron. The people that live in these neighborhoods know what the issues are. If we as Council Members take the time to listen, the people will let us know what the issues are and in most cases if we listen well they will even provide a lot of the solutions.”

 

Chris Kormushoff

Political affiliation: Republican

Why are you running for Council?

“I am running for Akron City Council-at-Large because I feel I have always been the type of person who will address a situation/problem and find a solution. In the past few years, I have seen an increase in crime and the general condition of our city decline and it concerns me. I would like the opportunity to work for the residents of Akron to address these issues.”

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

“Top three issues facing Akron:

“Employment

“Safety

“Sewer

“I think Mayor Plusquellic has done a great deal of work bringing business into downtown and other various areas of our city. Unfortunately, because of the economy, so many businesses — including some of our largest employers — have had to lay off many workers. We need more opportunities for employment!

“We have received several grants to pay for hiring of safety forces but have yet to hire the number we have received funds for. The last testing produced less than 20 hiring candidates. We need to offer another test and get more men on our force. We recently just swore in 7.

“We have over $10 million dollars in uncollected water bills! This is the only utility that is not placed in the users name — homeowner only. I think this needs to change so when the person moves, the unpaid balance follows them just like any other utility.

“Several cities are using some of their unleased space by having  residents submit a business plan. The city then selects the business it feels is the most suited for their demographics and offers free/reduced rent just like we have offered tax incentives to so many large corporations. This gives someone who may never have the opportunity if this were not offered, a chance to see if their business can succeed.”

 

Linda Omobien (incumbent)

Political affiliation: Democrat

Why are you running for Council?

“I am running for Akron City Council because I feel I have served this community for 20 years with distinction and integrity for sure. I am a hard worker who is not afraid to do some heavy lifting relative to holding the Administration accountable and representing all constituents. I know my presence on Akron City Council has benefited the entire citizenry of Akron. It has also afforded me the opportunity to assist the city in creating quality jobs; work to transform the culture of city council for the better; support our safety forces; make our schools stronger; advocate for the rights of workers; fight for the poor and illuminate women and family issues. My educational, administrative, legislative and my public service experiences have all prepared me to assist in moving our city forward. Also, incumbency has its benefits — 20 years in public service allows one to gain some valuable experiences, skills, and a great familiarity with the wonderful jewels Akron has, and the areas in need of improvement. I fully intend to use my talents to make our city better and stronger for our citizens. I believe I have made meaningful contribution already, for example, since my arrival at city hall; I have pushed for a more transparent government. I advocated for a more open government by allowing citizens to address city council. I was the first person on council to strongly advocate for jobs associated with the Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Project to go to Akron Residents.”

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

“Akron residents are facing numerous community issues: safety; joblessness; abandoned houses; etc. The three most pressing priorities that resonate with Akron residents are the fear that their sewer rates may go up astronomically; the blight of abandoned houses, and the increase in crime in certain neighborhoods. City Council and the Administration are currently working hard to find the most reasonable solution to our sewer problem. I am concerned about the fallout of raising our sewer rates. Thus, I am committed to finding a more creative solution. We must do a better job of either demolishing abandoned houses or refurbishing them for productive uses like permanent or transitional homes for the poor. With respect to crime and drug violence, we are hiring more police officers and strengthening our community policing capabilities and providing the residents with more tools to use. I support creating more social programs to meet the needs of drug abusers.

“We should continue creating high quality jobs in the areas of healthcare, technology, education, research and manufacturing.  As Chair of the Economic Development and Job Creation Committee, I see the Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO), an $870 million dollar project, as an opportunity to create jobs for Akron residents. Hence, I strongly advocated for it. Now everyone is on board with this idea, including the Administration. We need to be more supportive of small businesses, as well. Finally, we need to find innovative ways of instituting job training programs for our workforce through APS, our Universities, and Community Colleges.”

 

Michael Williams (incumbent)

Political affiliation: Democrat

Why are you running for Council?

“I am running for re-election to City Council-at-Large to continue representing the interests of citizens and to provide them a voice in the affairs of our city. City Council should be a check and balance on the city administration. They should ask the tough questions and provide alternate solutions to the problems facing the city. This role is only being performed by a minority of City Council members and those that ask questions are threatened and ostracized. I will continue to ask questions and provide alternatives to the issues that are important to residents. I will continue to listen to them and work in their best interest. I have supported every economic development effort to increase the number of jobs in Akron. I have also challenged the use of taxpayer dollars for projects that create a minimal number of jobs or where those projects do not justify taxpayer assistance.”

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

“Vacant and abandoned housing, associated crime and the costs of meeting EPA mandated Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) repairs are the top three challenges facing Akron. Akron must be more aggressive in removing abandoned structures that cannot be economically rehabilitated. These properties must be returned to productive use and tax generating land. Vacant properties are adversely affecting surrounding properties and negatively affecting property values. Changes in local laws affecting vacant commercial properties must be made to limit the length of time these properties can remain vacant.

“To address crime there needs to be an increase in the number of police officers and a change in attitude from the administration that focuses on citizen perceptions of crime instead of crime statistics. Increased efforts in community policing and neighborhood organizing are needed. Neighborhood leadership must be supported and respected to facilitate cooperation between police and citizens.

“A tripling of sewer rates to address CSO repairs will place many residents in the position of not being able to afford to remain in their homes. Alternate sources of revenue must be identified to reduce future sewer rates and spread the costs of the CSO projects over a larger group of people than just residential sewer/water users. The name-calling and negative comments about the federal judge hearing the CSO case needs to cease. Positive and meaningful negotiations on the terms of the consent decree need to take place to address pertinent issues that will have a negative impact on citizens.”

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