Brunswick Mayor Gary Werner ends his term in less than two weeks, but he’s not leaving politics behind. Werner said he plans to run for judge on the Medina County Court of Common Pleas.
It’s unclear what challengers Werner will face for the position. Judge James Kimbler, whose term on the court expires at the end of 2014, has not yet decided whether he will run for re-election.
“I’ll be making a formal decision and a formal announcement after the turn of the new year,” Kimbler said.
Werner, a Republican, was elected mayor of Brunswick in 2009, and also has served on Brunswick City Council. Werner opted not to run for re-election this year, deciding instead to pursue a six-year term on the Court of Common Pleas.
“I thought about other offices when I was serving as mayor, but I didn’t want to break a promise I made to the people of Brunswick,” Werner said. “The timing just seemed right.”
Werner, who has a law practice in Beachwood, said it’s been difficult to serve both as a part-time mayor and devote time to his law practice. He said he wanted to stay in public service and a full-time judgeship, closer to home, was appealing.
“Right now, I’m going out and circulating the petitions and getting the campaign infrastructure in place,” Werner said.
Werner, who has a background in municipal law and zoning, said he has practiced law before both state and federal courts.
“I’m looking forward to a campaign, and putting myself forward as a candidate,” he said.
Werner reflected on his time in office as mayor and said he’s proud of his accomplishments while serving as head of Mayor’s Court and in working alongside members of City Council.
Brunswick Mayor’s Court, which handles lesser traffic and criminal offenses, is presided over by the mayor of Brunswick. During his time in office, Werner changed the way the city handles arraignments for those who enter a plea of “not guilty,” binding their cases over to Medina Municipal Court.
“It used to be, if you pleaded ‘not guilty,’ they’d set a trial date in Medina, and the arresting officer would have to travel down there to be in court, but usually, their attorney would file a motion to delay the trial, and we would pay to send our officers down there for nothing,” Werner said. “Now, we set an arraignment date, rather than a trial date, and it cuts down on the trips the officers have to make.”
Werner was worked with the city to establish an online bill pay for those who have been fined in municipal court. He said he’s also proud that he was able to work alongside Council members during his four years in office, attending nearly all committee meetings and Council meetings to make sure Council knew where he stood on issues.
“I have no vote and no veto,” he said. “It does reduce your ability to shape legislation.”
Looking ahead, Werner said he hopes the city can continue to work with its neighbors in Brunswick Hills and Hinckley townships in 2014.
“I think developing our corridors along Pearl Road and on our border with Hinckley will necessarily require working with our neighbors,” Werner said.
Werner said the largest areas to develop lie just outside the city’s borders and if city leaders can come to agreements with township officials so both jurisdictions can benefit economically, there are great possibilities for the city.
A study with Hinckley Township to create a Joint Economic Development District already has been completed, and Council members are meetings with Brunswick Hills Township officials to start work on a similar agreement. Brunswick Hills and Brunswick officials have expressed an interest in coming together to make development along Pearl Road a possibility. The properties along Pearl Road have varied zoning and often switch between the city and township borders along both sides of the road, which has hindered development.
“If we can develop that corridor, it will be a dramatic change for the whole region,” Werner said.
As Werner says goodbye to the mayor’s office, he said he wishes the incoming councilman and mayor well. On Friday, Brunswick Councilman Ron Falconi will be sworn in as mayor and Alex Jones will be sworn in as an at-large councilman, taking Falconi’s seat. Both men ran unopposed.
Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Nick Glunt contributed to this story.