August 27, 2014

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Three seek to succeed Leaver

Medina Mayor Jane Leaver is not seeking a third term on Nov. 3. Three candidates hope to succeed her, but only Dennis Hanwell and Rick Greenberg responded to The Gazette’s request for information. Clarence Owens, 666 N. Huntington St., also is on the ballot.

Q: What are your qualifications to lead the city of Medina?

Hanwell: I obtained an associate degree in criminal justice from Akron University, a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Tiffin University, and have attended numerous management and leadership trainings during my career.

Prior to working in public service, I worked in supervision of manufacturing for over six years. I have more than 28 years of dedicated public service to the constituents of Medina County, the last nearly 26 years with the Medina Police Department. I served the last nearly 13 years as chief of police, and the five years prior to that as patrol lieutenant in charge of uniform division, specials unit and budget.

As chief, I instituted the community policing philosophy. This philosophy keeps officers out working in the public and interacting with citizens on a regular basis. Our innovative community policing programs obtained state and federal recognition.

I worked with Medina and Montville Township trustees to provide dispatching services to the region for police, fire and emergency medical services. I also brought in the two township police departments to train with our police officers during in-service trainings.
I have represented Medina and Medina County on a number of boards.

I was a founding member of the Northeast Ohio Amber Alert board that worked with nine counties in the region to establish guidelines and a review process for Amber alert activations.

These past experiences of working with county officials and neighboring counties have provided me with skills and abilities that would be directly transferable to the mayor’s office.

Greenberg: I have over 30 years of real world, practical business experience. My business interests have been on a local, national and international basis, providing me with a “world view” that reaches beyond Medina.

I have worked with groups of people large and small with an emphasis of always building consensus and creating a win-win environment for formulating the best result. My mantra is simple: “Do your best, and then do better.” This is what I will bring to the city of Medina along with a fresh, new and innovative perspective.

I have the passion, drive and desire to always be reaching out to create a “greater” Medina. The best results come from empowering people and mentoring them to succeed. That is one of my biggest strengths.

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

Hanwell: One of the most important issues facing the city is adequate resources to fund city operations. Mayor Jane Leaver, City Council, the finance director and the department heads have worked collectively to put together a five-year budget. This provides much more notice and time to deal with inadequate funds. We need to continue to spend our tax dollars frugally, but also to find additional ways of spending more wisely.

As chief of police I negotiated contracts to provide dispatching services to Medina and Montville townships. As mayor, I would expand this cooperation with these two, and the rest of the adjacent townships, to share whatever equipment or expertise with one another that we could. For example, if our street department needs a specific piece of equipment that is used occasionally, and the townships use it as well, we could work out an arrangement to share the cost and equipment; or the city buys one to share and the townships buy a separate piece of equipment that we need as well. This makes each of us more efficient and effective in our services and spending of tax dollars.

We could also work toward a recreation district where we share maintenance costs, upkeep, equipment purchases, etc., for various sports fields. We need to continue to work with our adjacent townships to create or expand our combined economic development districts in our commercial areas. Both of these districts will help provide additional revenue sources to the townships and the city.

We need to work to create better access to our industrial area on the west side of town, possibly by extending Commerce Drive. This would permit trucks from having to navigate so many tight intersections to try to deliver or pick up from these industrial businesses.

Greenberg: They are numerous and a lot of them are based in the growth that the county and the townships surrounding the city have created.

First off, we must work in a more “regional” fashion with our neighboring townships to forge alliances that are mutually beneficial and productive. Secondly, work on creating programs to stimulate commercial and industrial growth to begin to shift the tax base back to a more equal footing.

Thirdly, controlling costs in an era where revenues are going to be at best flat, and more likely down, while managing to maintain services that will require better management by all departments.

Lastly, making better use of our downtown to promote Medina as a regional destination in a “staycation” world. Creating more events to draw from all of northeastern Ohio and making the downtown an ongoing center of activity.

Q: If elected, what changes in the city administration would you make, if any?

Hanwell: First, I would meet with department heads and next-level supervision and share my vision of a community-oriented government where all city employees are working to provide the best possible service to customers as we possibly can. I will lead by positive example and insist that customers are treated with dignity and respect. I will encourage employees to share thoughts, ideas and suggestions for improvement in operations.

Many of the positive programs instituted at the Medina Police Department came from line-level staff. These employees do the job daily and have the best perspective for possible ways to improve or do it more efficiently. This management style also makes them feel involved and a vital part of the organization.

I will ask that each department look for ways to share equipment, services and expertise with one another, as well as with neighboring townships and Medina County services.

I will have employees cross-trained so they may adequately report violations they observe when out in the city doing their respective duties. This will give us more eyes to keep our city and residents safe for the benefit of all.

Last, but not least, I would regularly reinforce with city employees that we are all part of a team that represents Medina government to our residents and guests. We need to make sure we are doing the best we can and take pride in each of our respective duties so that we reflect positively on the city.

Greenberg: This area will require analysis and time. My charge to all department heads and in reality to all city employees will be to “do your best” and then “do better.” The goal is constant improvement on all levels from the part-time parks and recreation worker to the top levels of the city government, including the mayor and Council.

In the beginning, we will watch, learn and listen. I will ask each department head to tell me what “we” can do to make their job better and more effective for our constituents. I will let them set the parameters of improvement and then hold them to that standard. Those that prove unworthy will show themselves and will be replaced.
We will also look to the outside for more and better information from experts as a rule, not an exception.