When Mike Williams chose to run for mayor in the Democratic primary, he set in motion the close of 28 years on the Akron City Council. His decision created an opening for an at-large seat. Otherwise, two Democratic incumbents, Jeff Fusco and Linda Omobien, are seeking re-election to four-year terms. Another Democrat, Veronica Sims, and three Republicans, John R. Sans, Cynthia Blake and Charly Murphy, also are vying for the three council at-large positions.
We recommend the election of Jeff Fusco, Linda Omobien and Veronica Sims on Nov. 3.
Fusco isn't exactly an incumbent. He has spent the past four months in the mayor's office, having moved into the position from his at-large seat after the turmoil triggered by the abrupt resignation of Mayor Don Plusquellic. Fusco took the mayor's job on an interim basis, intending from the outset to regain his at-large seat on the council, which he first captured six years ago.
As it is, Fusco has served well as mayor in bringing needed stability to City Hall. What deserves attention in this race is his strong record as a council member. He has built upon what he learned and the skills he developed as a ward member and as part of the administration as deputy service director.
If he has taken the initiative in such things as targeting drug houses and finding funds for road resurfacing, most telling has been his capacity to help the council, and the city, move forward on a range of matters. He puts in the time and effort. He is effective in working with others and understands how the city operates on multiple levels. He can take an idea and see that it is enacted. Fusco will be asset to the next mayor and his administration.
Linda Omobien, also an at-large member the past six years, had a bumpy relationship with Mayor Plusquellic. Unfortunately, that translated into the city failing to benefit fully from the leadership skills she has demonstrated as a longtime member of the Akron school board, as an administrator at Community Support Services and as a board member for many organizations.
As we noted during the primary campaign, Omobien sees an opportunity for a “reset” among city leaders, from dealing with the combined sewer repair to including a wider range of voices and ideas. She became a persistent questioner of the Plusquellic team. That has obvious value. The hope is, she will become more engaged in a leading role.
The new mayor, and the city, will benefit if Omobien gets the opportunity — and seizes it — to show greater leadership on the council.
Veronica Sims joined the Akron Board of Education in March 2013, and won election to a full, four-year term eight months later. In this election season, she has jumped into the at-large council race, and there is logic in her doing so. She has a long record of community involvement, including through her current position as the administrator for special projects and government affairs at Akron Summit Community Action, among other things, conducting research, facilitating public forums and monitoring legislation.
Sims has served on the city food truck committee and the executive board of the Healthy Connections Network. She has shown a capacity to plunge into issues and work with others. She knows the city from many angles and has the potential to be a strong council member.
John R. Sans, a geochemist and scientist with the chemical company BASF, would be a helpful presence with the massive combined sewer program. He has a good grasp of the city's finances. Cynthia Blake unsuccessfully sought a seat in the state legislature a year ago. She works in mortgage lending and has argued for improved fiscal policies. Charly Murphy, a small businessman, has worked with low-income residents to help them get ready for the work force. None matches the preparation of Fusco, Omobien and Sims.