June 29, 2016

Partly cloudy

Four people seek three at-large seats in Wadsworth

Voters will be asked to vote on Nov. 3 for three at-large City Council representatives. There are four candidates, including two incumbents, on the ballot: Susan Hanlon, James B. Riley, Glenn Wojciak and Beth Workman.

Q: What are your qualifications to serve on Wadsworth City Council?

Hanlon: I am currently on Wadsworth Council; chairperson of Public Ways Committee, member of Economic Development Committee; Planning Commission liaison; professional expertise in management and organizations; ability to read and comprehend complex documents, ability to … ingratiate information from multiple sources, willingness to ask questions; ability and willingness to approach issues from an innovative perspective.

Riley: I have 30 years of law enforcement experience; 15 years service with local fire department; eight years at Wadsworth-Rittman Hospital providing transportation services to citizens for medical services; served on the local Property Maintenance Appeals Board since 2002 until appointed to Council at-large seat in 2008. I have spent most of my life providing services to the public in one form or another, and I’m not ready to hang it up.

Wojciak: My qualifications for City Council stem from my experience as a journalist who has carefully observed the actions of City Council and Planning Commission in Wadsworth, Brunswick, Medina and Strongsville over the past 30 years. In addition, I have also observed state, county and township government at work and how they relate to the proceedings of City Council. That experience has provided me with lessons on how good legislators and policies work. They have led me to believe that open, honest and courteous deliberations are most effective. I hope to use those lessons to help me become an effective councilman for the city of Wadsworth.

One of my responsibilities as a journalist was to serve as a watchdog over government. That experience of observing government with critical and sometimes skeptical eyes should also serve me and the people of Wadsworth well on City Council.

In addition, I also believe it is important to keep Democratic Party representation on Wadsworth City Council, which has too often been dominated by Republicans. Although I don’t feel partisanship is an issue in Wadsworth politics, I do believe it is valuable to have independent thinkers and values represented to provide balance in government.

Workman: I am honest, fair and a good person with great work ethics. Not only do I live here in Wadsworth, but I work in Wadsworth, my children go to school in Wadsworth and we are all involved in Wadsworth. I am open-minded and approachable. As a business leader — CEO Wadsworth Chamber of Commerce 1994-2004 — and currently human resource manager for a Wadsworth manufacturer, I get it. I understand many of the challenges, opportunities and obstacles for both business and the community as a whole.

Q: What do you feel are the most important issues facing the city?

Hanlon: Reduced revenue streams; need for infrastructure improvements, expansion and preservation; need to improve the value proposition of Wadsworth as a good place to do business; managing the city’s position as a partner in the Collaborative Project.

Riley: To try to maintain satisfactory services and still stay in the budget as reasonably as possible. These are trying economic times and we have had to make cuts in services so we would not have to increase taxes. Regardless of what the administration in Washington, D.C., is saying, I’m afraid we’re going to get hit with increased taxes, fees, or whatever name you want to put on them, and keep in mind that the current administration has decided to let Bush tax cuts expire. Right now it’s anyone’s guess as to what type of increase(s) we’re going to see, but we’re (Council) not going to add to it. This is rather difficult, not only for the aforementioned reasons but because we are also losing a lot of our commercial tax base.
For whatever reason, we’ve already lost two major car dealerships. We don’t know about the third one, Renacci-Doraty Chevrolet, yet. Wadsworth-Rittman Hospital has been one of the largest employers in the area, yet, since Summa has taken it over, they have announced plans that they are closing the OB and Rehab Units and transferring them to either Barberton or Akron … this amounts to over 40 jobs lost. These lost jobs will have a large impact on our revenue.
To help offset this, we need to attract new businesses to the area and help those that are already here stay there. Hopefully, with the airport expansion and the extension of Quadral Drive, this will offer not only better services to those facilities, but also room for expansion for current and new businesses.

Wojciak: The most pressing issue facing Wadsworth, and other local governments as well, is the challenge of continuing to provide good service with limited tax revenue since income is being negatively affected by the recession and job layoffs. I plan to carefully monitor elective spending by the city to be sure that program benefits justify the expense.

If elected, I plan to work toward finding funds to improve the neglected parking areas in the rear of the square’s southwest quadrant, extending the trail at Holmesbrook Park to Friedt Park and possibly Valleyview Park, establishing bicycle lanes on some of the busier city streets, and encourage the creation of a plan for green development and economic sustainability using renewable resources. Wadsworth, with its municipally owned electric utility, is in an unusually strong position to advocate for the expansion of clean energy.

Workman: Probably the same issues every city has: economic development, electric, water, infrastructure and growth. Specific to Wadsworth is to be better at communications and to take an active role in assisting the community and businesses (more of a customer service approach).

Q: Serving on Wadsworth City Council is a time commitment. If elected, how would you balance your personal life with your duties on Council and being responsive to constituents?

Hanlon: I am an empty-nester and I have a helpful husband. It’s not easy, but I have learned to get up earlier, stay up later, and my nighttime reading often consists of committee minutes and supporting documents.

Riley: A big plus on my side is I am now retired and I am able to commit the time that it takes, whereas someone who is still employed may just not have that time available.

Wojciak: I work part time for the Post and do freelance consulting, so the time commitment to City Council should not present a serious conflict with my responsibilities.

Workman: To define a norm/balance that benefits both my family and Wadsworth will always be an ongoing dilemma I am sure. In the scheme of things for both family and constituents, I will need to make sure that I am approachable and responsive to both. I am committed to make this work, and so is my family; that’s half the battle.

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