June 25, 2016


Municipal election landscape takes shape

This year’s elections will fill posts in all three cities in the county, but only Wadsworth candidates will appear on the May 7 Republican primary ballot.

Medina is a nonpartisan city and doesn’t have a primary for municipal offices. Candidates don’t have to file for the November election until later this year.

Gary Werner

Brunswick candidates did have to file by Wednesday’s deadline. But the city has a nonpartisan primary only if there are more than two candidates who have filed for a single office. That isn’t the case this year.

Werner, 50, was elected Brunswick mayor in 2009 after serving on city council.

Werner, a registered Republican, said he has no plans to run for another office, and said he hopes to focus on his law practice and family for the moment.

In announcing his decision Wednesday, Werner pointed out that “the mayor and Council offices in Brunswick are designed as part-time offices. That is so in part, I think, to encourage citizen participation in local governance.

“These offices belong to the city, not to those who temporarily occupy them.”

Falconi, 43, who is also a lawyer, said he hopes his legal experience will help him preside over Brunswick Mayor’s Court.

“I just want to serve the people in a different capacity,” he said.

Falconi, also a registered Republican, was appointed to serve on Council five years ago.

During his time on Council, he started a regular program on Brunswick Area Television called “Meet Your Neighbor” in which he created more than 100 episodes. He said he hopes to continue to get to know local residents and business owners.

Two young Brunswick Democrats have filed to run for Falconi’s open Council seat.

The youngest is Ryan Kolegar, 19, who serves as president of the Brunswick Young Democrats organization and attends classes at Cuyahoga Community College where he is pursuing a degree in criminal justice. He is a graduate of Brunswick High School.

“I felt like you’re never too young to get started,” Kolegar said.

He said his campaign will stress maintaining city streets and providing quality services to Brunswick residents.

“I want to ensure that Brunswick continues to grow and prosper,” he said.

Kolegar won’t face his opponent Alex Johnson, 34, until November, because the seat needs three opponents to trigger a primary race.

Johnson who previously served as a Council member in Parma Heights, said he enjoys serving in local government. He moved to Brunswick three years ago with his wife, Michelle. The couple has a 10-year-old daughter and a 1-year-old, and expecting a third child later this year.

“We wanted to settle down with the family, so we packed up and moved to Brunswick,” he said.

Johnson works as a clerk for the justice center in Cleveland, helping to schedule the court dockets. He has a degree from Baldwin Wallace University in political science with a minor in criminal justice and is pursuing a degree in public administration. He said he’s a big supporter of safety forces and education.

“I want to bring more businesses here,” he said. “I’m excited about a city of this capacity because I think it has a lot of potential.”

In Wadsworth, two familiar faces won’t be seeking re-election. Republicans Beth Workman, 55, and Susan Hanlon, 57, did not file petitions to run for their at-large Council seats.

Workman and Hanlon both said they felt comfortable with the direction the city was heading and in the four Republicans who have stepped forward to seek the three at-large seats.

“When I started out, I campaigned on improving the roads and streets and the community center and pool,” said Hanlon, who is serving her sixth year on Council in 2013. “All those things have happened or are going to happen.”

Workman, who is serving her fourth year on Council, said she hopes to have more time to spend with her grandchildren.

“If they didn’t have eligible candidates to run, I would have done it again,” she said. “But there were so many candidates wanting to come forward and be involved.”

Republicans Bob Thurber, Robert Titus, David Williams and Joe Rodgers all have filed to run for the at-large seats. The field of Republicans will be narrowed to three after the May primary. They will face incumbent Democrat Patricia Haskins in the November primary.

Titus, who is self-employed, said he hopes to be involved in improving the city’s downtown area.

“That’s the lifeblood of our community, I hate to see empty places downtown,” he said.

Joe Rodgers, an Army veteran from the Vietnam era, who serves as commander of the Wadsworth American Legion Post 170 has experience in working with the downtown neighborhood. Rodgers served as president of Downtown Wadsworth Inc. He said he’s also interested in improving the look and atmosphere of the city’s downtown.

In Wadsworth’s Ward 1, Republican Tim Eberling will face a primary challenge from retired Wadsworth fire chief Ralph Copley.

Copley, served 30 years with the Fire Department, including 10 years as chief. He said he’s running for office to stay involved with the city.

“I think I still have something to give to the citizens of Wadsworth,” he said. “I want to continue to serve them.”

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com.

Loren Genson About Loren Genson

Loren Genson was The Gazette's senior reporter. From August 2012 through September 2015, she covered Brunswick city and state and national government. To contact The Gazette, call the managing editor at (330) 721-4065.