In early 2013, Margo Sommerville took over the Ward 3 seat on the Akron City Council, when her father, Marco, vacated the position to become the city planning director. She has left no room for critics to charge that she is undeserving. She has proved a quick study, diligent and independent. Now she is seeking re-election to a four-year term.
We recommend the re-election of Margo Sommerville on Nov. 3.
Amid the recent turmoil at City Hill, Sommerville, a Democrat, landed the delicate and difficult job of leading the effort to fill vacancies on the council. She handled the political pressure well and managed the process firmly and diplomatically. She benefits from her experience as the vice president of the family funeral services business. She has the right priorities for the ward, pressing, among other things, for restoration or demolition of blighted housing and the shrinking of “food deserts.”
Sommerville also grasps the larger agenda for the city, for instance, seeing the importance of downtown redevelopment to the whole. Regarding the divisiveness on the council, she doesn't resist speaking pointedly. She cites colleagues with “personal agendas” and those who feel more comfortable “objecting.” She is developing the skills to make a larger contribution to advancing the city and the council.
Her Republican opponent is Jerry Christian, a commercial cleaner, in his first election run. He shares many priorities with Sommerville. He doesn't have a strong reason for removing a promising incumbent. The ward covers a western portion of the central city.
Rich Swirsky stepped up to the role of leader during his second month on the City Council. He explained why he and his colleagues had little choice but to support a big increase in sewer rates as part of paying for the mandated and necessary combined sewer repair project. In other ways, the longtime community activist and educator in the Akron Public Schools has been a refreshing presence in his two years on the council representing Ward 1.
We recommend the re-election of Rich Swirsky on Nov. 3.
The ward covers much ground, from the valley in the north to Highland Square, Merriman Road and West Market Street past the Innerbelt into downtown. Swirsky has proved most responsive to constituents, helping with new block watches and business districts. He was part of bringing goats to Glendale Cemetery to clear overgrowth. He has shown an ability to know when to fight battles and how to bring others around to his view.
An advocate of “green” infrastructure, Swirsky not only sees the opportunity in the combined sewer project. He points to the potential of the Innerbelt project, including linking neighborhoods to the west with downtown. As a council member, he comes prepared. He asks pertinent questions, including of the Whole Foods organization as it looked to come into the city. He sees the larger picture.
His Republican opponent is Christina H. Barry, a deputy clerk in the Akron Municipal Court. She is smart and informed. She doesn't make a case for removing Swirsky.