Thursday’s city council meeting

Here are my notes from Thursday night’s meeting:

Charter Amendment (Charter Review Commission) – Yes, it’s my last month on council. No, I’m not mailing it in. I’m proposing an amendment that will hopefully allow the city to avoid a major dispute in 2020 and beyond.

For those of you who are new to city government, a city’s charter is akin to its constitution. The Charter Review Commission is appointed by the mayor every 5 years, to study ways to improve Stow’s Charter. Unfortunately, there is confusion as to whether City Council is required to put all of Charter Review’s proposals before the voters–or whether Charter Review Commission is merely making recommendations. We have had 3 different law directors provide 3 different answers. If the next law director believes it is mandatory for council to submit the proposals to the people, and council refuses, then we have a potential lawsuit on our hands. I think everyone should agree: Clarification is necessary.

My amendment makes it clear that Council is not required to place Charter Review Commission’s proposals on the ballot. My reason is three-fold: (1) Charter Review has given us some bad language in the past. One proposal gave the voters no opportunity to maintain the status quo — clearly illegal. Council’s judgment is needed to protect the process. (2) Charter Review likes to re-litigate issues that the voters have already decided over and over again. For instance, the length of city council terms (2 years versus 4 years), and term limits. Council should be able to object to a proposal as being “asked and answered.” (3) Charter Review often comes with pre-determined objectives, set by the mayor who appointed the members. The mayor should not be able to so easily circumvent the traditional process of amending the charter (i.e., two-thirds of council).

Charter Amendment (Mayor Succession Plan)

Matt Riehl also rolled out a charter amendment — pertaining to the process of replacing a mayor. We had a dilemma when Mayor Kline resigned two years ago. The council president (Riehl) and council vice president (me) could not take the job. Thankfully, Jim Costello was retired and able to step into the role seamlessly.

Riehl’s proposal would allow council to choose a resident beyond the council’s own members. In all likelihood, council would not choose someone with no government experience, but rather a member of the departing mayor’s cabinet or a retired elected official.

Greenspace rezoning

My plan to rezone 314 acres in Stow to “conservation” received its first reading. The land in question is: (1) 85 acres in western Stow, owned by the city, (2) the golf course parcels of Roses Run Country Club (146 acres), and (3) the Marsh Road reclamation plant (83 acres). This follows our successful rezoning in October of Fox Den Golf Course and its 137 acres. I think this is good for our school overcrowding, enjoyment of existing residences, enjoyment of nature, and mitigation of storm-water problems.

Next meeting

Council will meet on December 30 — potentially to pass these charter amendments on to the March 17 primary ballot.


2020 Announcement


I wanted to provide a quick update about my plans for 2020.

As you might remember, I announced earlier this year that I would be running for State Representative in 2020.

I write today—with both some sadness and yet a firm conviction—to inform you that I will not be running for the State House next year.

And for good reason: Laura and I are blessed to have our second daughter on the way in January. While I feel we could win the race, family is my first priority. Serving three days a week in Columbus is not compatible right now with being a good father and husband. I look forward to focusing on my wife and growing family.

With that being said, I have found an opportunity that is compatible with my family life, and which will emphasize my strengths to serve my community. In 2020, I intend to run for Summit County Council, District 3. The district includes all of Stow, Hudson, Silver Lake, and the northern part of Cuyahoga Falls.

It will be an exciting new challenge, for two reasons: (1) Summit County Council is comprised of eight Democrats and three Republicans; and (2) In the March 17 primary election, I will need to defeat a 12-year incumbent Republican (one who has voted with the Democrats on council 99.3% of the time).

But with your support, I believe we can do the same great things for Summit County that we did for the City of Stow.

You will be hearing much more from me over the winter (including baby pictures), but I wanted you to receive this message before you read about it in the newspaper. Laura and I wish you and yours a very blessed Holiday Season.

Very truly yours,

p.s. Please click here if you’d like to sign up for a yard sign or to volunteer! Please click here to donate.

Meeting Notes

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