Tallmadge -- Voters must choose among five candidates for the three open At-Large seats on Tallmadge City Council during the Nov. 5 general election.
On the Democratic ticket are Council members James M. Donovan, Robert Maguire and Kim Ray, the candidates who earned the most votes in the September primary election. The three are competing against Republicans John Rensel and James Nuznoff.
Council President Robert Maguire, principal of Maguire Legal Group in Tallmadge, has been on Council for six years.
"I am committed to Tallmadge and want to continue helping guide our community as a member of Council. It is rewarding and an honor to serve our city," said the 42-year Tallmadge resident.
Maguire said he believes the city should attract and retain businesses in cooperation with organizations, such as the Chamber of Commerce. The additional revenue commercial and industrial development would generate could help improve life for residents, he said.
"One-time capital expenditures, such as an expansion of sidewalks, the addition of a dog park, and more community events, would be beneficial in making our city an even better place to live," he said. That's how the city will continue to thrive, he said.
Some of the ways the city could generate more revenue are to stimulate development in the Joint Economic Development District [JEDD] and continue to share services with neighboring communities to cut expenses.
"Tallmadge's strength is its financial stability due to the diligence of Council and the administration," he said. "The general fund surplus is larger than it has ever been as a result of collaborating city services with other governmental units, encouragement of economic growth, and an increase in revenue from the JEDD in Brimfield."
Rensel, a manager at the Bridgestone Americas Center for Research and Technology in Akron, is serving the remainder of former At-Large Representative Jack Sarver's term, which expires at the end of the year. He also represented the Ward 4 on Council from 1995 to 2011.
"I am running to provide a continued balance of legislative experience for the voters of Tallmadge, a person who listens to the needs of our residents and then communicates their concerns on City Council," Rensel said.
He said he looks to the city's recent community survey for guidance as to how the city can raise additional revenue and cut expenses, including building single-family homes to generate more property taxes and support the growth of local businesses.
Rensel said he believes the city's weakness is planning and would like administrators to present a comprehensive, five-year plan to Council that addresses the following: "re-occurring storm water issues plaguing our neighborhoods;" "current low police and fire staffing ratios;" "our residents' taxes for public services;" and "vacant businesses at South and Midway plazas and in the city's Design Control District."
At the same time as working on a plan to turn around the vacancies in the plazas, Rensel said he'd like city administrators to work with public school district officials to determine the most efficient way to use school properties.
"Our residents are our city's greatest strength. We are a community of caring people as evidenced by the number of volunteer organizations and residents dedicated to making our city a better place to live and thrive," he said.
Council-at-Large Representative Kim Ray, a PNC Bank credit officer, has served on Council four years.
"It's been a privilege to serve the citizens of Tallmadge ... I'd like another four-year term to work on improving our infrastructure and implementing new environmental and social sustainability programs," she said.
As far as economic development, in five years she said she'd like to see the lot next to City Hall redeveloped into mixed-use that accommodates medical, residential or multi-family housing for senior citizens, as well as continued development in the JEDD.
Ray said she believes the city needs to broaden its tax base so that it can generate additional revenue without raising taxes or implementing more charges for services. To do this, growth in commercial and industrial sectors has to be encouraged.
The city can reduce expenses by continuing its collaborative endeavors with area municipalities, she added.
Ray said she believes the city's greatest strength its is people.
"We are blessed with a community that truly cares for each other -- whether it's Rotarians working with Good Neighbors on a food drive, the Tallmadge High School Leaders in Action walking and fundraising for Relay For Life or the Chamber of Commerce hosting breakfast with Santa for our area children -- you can find examples of wonderful, caring people doing great things for our community and neighbors," she said.
As far as weaknesses, Ray said Tallmadge doesn't have any; instead, she noted, it has challenges the community needs to work together to solve, including its aging infrastructure, the storm water system and assisting its aging citizenry.
Donovan has lived in Tallmadge for 27 years and is the owner and funeral director of Donovan Funeral Home in town. He served on the Board of Zoning Appeals from 2000 to 2005.
Donovan said he's interested in vacating the Ward 3 seat he's had for the past five years for an at-large post for the opportunity to represent the entire city.
"I enjoy serving on City Council and look forward to serving another term. I enjoy working with residents, businesses and our administration to improve things for everyone," Donovan said.
When asked about where he'd like to see more economic development in the city five years from now, he said around the Circle and in the JEDD.
Donovan said he believes the creation of more jobs will generate additional revenue for the city, while collaborating with nearby communities and investing in technology will reduce costs.
He said he believes the city's strengths are "a sound financial standing and a very proactive administration," while its weakness is difficulty attracting large companies and manufacturers. He said the JEDD is an area that could help attract this kind of development.
Donovan said he thinks the city needs to improve the roads and resolve storm water issues.
"I'm proud to be part of the improvements that are going on now and in the coming years," he said.
If Donovan is one of the candidates voters choose, the Democratic Precinct Committee will select a replacement for his Ward 3 seat. That person will serve the rest of his term, which expires Dec. 31, 2015.
Nuznoff, a 2011 candidate for the Ward 2 seat, works as a customer service representative for Maple Heights-based food service company the Cuyahoga Group. He has lived in Tallmadge since 1981 and served on the Board of Zoning Appeals for four years.
"I've kept abreast of what's going on in town and feel that I have some concerns to share with the city government that are best addressed as a representative as opposed to just a citizen ... ," he said.
Among his chief concerns are the continuing problems with the storm water system.
Nuznoff said he, too, would like to see more vacant storefronts filled at Midway Plaza, as well as development around Summit Racing as existing zoning allows.
The elimination of the Design Control District, exclusive of the historic buildings inside of the Circle, would allow property owners to improve their homes and businesses without restrictions, he noted.
Although Nuznoff said he agrees with the city using technology and collaborating with communities to save money, he opposes mandated regionalism.
Nuznoff said he believes the city's proximity to Akron is both a strength and weakness. Because Tallmadge borders Akron, he said it discourages major commercial and medical employers, such as hospitals, from having a physical presence in the community. On the other hand, he said the city's closeness makes for a shorter commute for residents who work there.
"I like the semi-rural nature of Tallmadge and want to maintain that image by resisting stack-and-pack housing [dense residential areas with more homes] and other multi-use housing [mixed use developments with retail on the first floor]," he said.
Editor's note: For more information on Tallmadge At-Large City Council candidates, see their profiles on Page 28.
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