Position papers: Cuyahoga Falls mayor
Don Robart (incumbent) vs. Don Walters
Voters living in Cuyahoga Falls will vote for one candidate for mayor in the Nov. 5 General Election. The information provided below was submitted by the candidates, with their responses to our questions printed as submitted.
Don Robart (incumbent)
Political affiliation: Republican
Why are you running for mayor?
“Since January 1, 1986, the city has seen much progress. The merger with Northampton became effective on that date, along with it, great expectations for what was formerly The Township water lines, sewer lines, electric lines, new residential, industrial and commercial development were accomplished as seamlessly as possible. Development along the river with the Sheraton, LeFevers (now the Burntwood Tavern), Town Centre and the Watermark, make this area a bustling enterprise. And of course, the miracle of activities at Falls River Square accentuate the commercial livelihood of the area, and to these things a new Natatorium, and Fire Station #5, one can easily see that we have been very busy. There is still much to do.
“The State Road Shopping Center had deteriorated over time until it was only 30 percent occupied and was fast becoming an eyesore. In October of 2007, I had to make a decision to purchase the structure through eminent domain, or forever miss that opportunity. Today, we are under construction on a $60 million center that promised to bring over 600 jobs to the area and significantly increase tax dollars to both the city and the schools.
“With the removal of the dams on the Cuyahoga River, opportunities for growth along the river are flourishing. Enhanced recreational activities in conjunction with our South Front Street plan will preserve and enhance the characteristics of the area.
“It is my fervent desire to continue to lead this renaissance.”
What would be your top three priorities if you were re-elected? Why?
“Due to the economy we have been mired in for the past seven years, maintaining and a disciplined budget, must be a priority. We have accomplished that through cost-cutting measures that have proved successful merging departments, reducing personnel through attrition, moving departments to the County and eliminating non-essential expenditures have left our city with the highest general fund balance in its history. Coupled with our very enviable AA2 Bond Rating, and one can realize we have been cautious in our spending.
“Going forward, this goal is not going to get easier. Cut backs in State funding through tangible personal property tax, local government fund and estate tax, along with the loss of revenue on interest and reducing property taxes all add up to challenges in the future.
“A second challenge is to continue and even expand upon our economic development plans. The advent of Portage Crossing is simply the foundation on which to build many other opportunities are now coming forth as design plans for this center begin to become a reality. The downtown and entire Riverfront area are now providing outstanding opportunities for recreational and economic activities.
“And finally, changes are certainly on the horizon for the Cuyahoga Falls school system. It is time that we begin the process of moving to the 7-12 campus on the 50 acres at Portage Trail and 13th Street. Our current aging high school is overdue to be replaced and I stand with our superintendent in moving our community in that direction.”
Political affiliation: Democrat
Why are you running for mayor?
“As a veteran Councilperson, I have seen a rash of new problems developing in our city. When the housing bubble burst and the economy took a sharp downturn, I witnessed an increase in distressed properties, vacant businesses, and a sharp uptick in crime. These problems were treated as if they were a sign of the times, and nothing was done at city hall to address them. The problems have multiplied due to lack of attention from the top and I intend to aggressively reverse this disturbing trend. I know that I can do a better job and it is time to set the bar high for our community — to demand more of each other and to work together for a more prosperous Cuyahoga Falls.”
What would be your top three priorities if you took office? Why?
“My number one priority reflects what I hear most frequently when speaking to residents as I go door-to-door and that is working for safe neighborhoods and a peace of mind. My administration will implement several innovative programs to help combat crime and keep our streets safe. I commit to keeping all fire stations open 365 days a year, ensure full staffing of our safety forces, establish a ‘CF 911’ Citywide Alarm Monitoring Program and a ‘Cuyahoga Falls Crime Fighters’ Hotline.
“Secondly, my administration will look to job growth and economic development that makes sense and focuses on projects that attract good-paying jobs and benefit Falls families directly. I plan on accomplishing this by creating a ‘Shop Locally’ Incentive Program, insist on above-board economic development while reducing costs and stimulating job growth by ‘Going Green.’
“Lastly, none of this can be accomplished without collaboration that works for all of our families. In this day and age, city leaders need to be able to work in a spirit of cooperation. I will work together with the leaders within our own city and those of neighboring communities and the county to advance projects that benefit us all, saving taxpayer dollars in the process.
“I have a full blueprint that will bring more opportunity to our city including the reintroduction of the senior snow program, further engagement of our youth and a reinvestment plan in our community. I encourage you to visit my website, www.WaltersForMayor.com, or call me at (330) 212-6127 to learn more.”
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