Stow will have a new mayor

Certainly, you’ve heard that Mayor Sara Kline was interviewing for the Parks Director job in Cuyahoga Falls. This week, she got the job. This morning, she announced her resignation as Mayor of Stow, effective May 13 at midnight.

Here are my thoughts:

  • I don’t blame Mayor Kline one bit for seeking this opportunity. She will be working under Mayor Walters, with whom she works well. Sara will have a huge budget and a lot of great assets to manage. She would be term-limited as Mayor at the end of 2019. I am genuinely happy for her and her family. I called her to let her know that.
  • Sara and I had several epic battles on policy, many taking place via public arguments and many others being held behind closed doors. Notwithstanding, her and I have maintained a great deal of professional respect throughout the process. When people (even her detractors) ask me what I think of her, I consistently say, “You won’t find two people who disagree on policy as often as her and me, but … I have never questioned her passion for the city; I have always praised her ability to hire good people and manage them effectively; and we have usually been able to reach compromises for the city’s benefit.”
  • Where do we go from here. Council will choose an interim mayor, who will serve until the November 2018 election. At this point, it’s hard to handicap who will take over as Mayor on May 13. The council president is the most natural selection. Matt Riehl holds that spot. But he will need to decide if he can put aside his day job for 6 months. I assume this topic will be on council’s agenda during its meeting next Thursday. Then, in November 2018, there will be an election to determine who fills Sara’s remaining 12 months in office. Finally, in November 2019, there will be an election for a new 4-year term as mayor.
  • I’ll help clear the field by removing myself from consideration; my family, law practice, and Ohio House campaign do not provide enough time to do the job–even on an interim basis. The people of my hometown deserve better than my partial attention.
  • Ideally, we would like to avoid having 4 mayors within 20 months. But I want to impart my confidence that the City’s services will not be negatively impacted by these proceedings. You have a city council with several people capable of stepping into the mayor’s role. You have a chief of staff, police chief, fire chief, and several department heads who are really dedicated and really good at what they do. They will ensure that we maintain a high level of service.

Last night’s council meeting

The future of this blog – Some people are surprised that I continue to blog about city matters while I’m running for State Rep. (My primary election is May 8.) Two responses to that: (1) Until I’m sworn into the State House, I’m going to continue giving 110% effort to my City Council position. To me, that includes the duty of transparency. (2) I’m going to keep blogging, even after I’m elected to serve you in Columbus. No matter what the House leadership thinks about this practice, I’m going to use this blog to express my thoughts on policy and legislation. I’m hopeful it can be a place where regular folks can get news about their state government without filter.

Now, for my meeting notes…

Omni Development – The huge senior living development that straddles Hudson Drive and Allen Road asked for a revision to their plans, to add some more condo-type units. All told, this project will result in 70 new jobs, a $35 million investment, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue for our schools, police, fire and roads. Sure, it might not be the exact development you or your family needs, but we all need to have a solid tax base that can alleviate the pressure to raise taxes on us residents.

Downtown Stow – On the other side of the coin, we are still working toward creating a Downtown Stow, with in-demand shopping and dining options. But we are seeking first to obtain more resident input. Please take a moment to complete our survey by clicking here: https://ohmplanning.typeform.com/to/RIGRuI

Spending Measures – Council voted to approve several vehicles and pieces of equipment, including 2 police cars, a leaf machine, and a cone-dropping truck. We asked tough questions, but the administrators justified the necessity of each. Mostly, they were replacing vehicles that were purchased in the early 2000s. The administration also approached council to replace several employees. Each of them passed, but one did not make it out of committee. The administration wanted to hire one full-time janitor to replace three part-time janitors, with an additional overall cost of $17,000 per year. Their rationale is that we have a difficult time keeping part-timers on staff. Understandable, but I’m OK with the extra hassle at that level of savings. Brian Lowdermilk and I voted “no” in committee; it required 3 of 4 votes to pass.

Other notes

  • As you have probably heard, we lost one of our first responders last weekend, with the passing of Firefighter Dan Whipkey. We are praying for his family. We are also thankful to our neighboring fire departments for picking up some shifts, which allowed our firefighters to attend Dan’s calling hours and funeral. Those departments are Kent, Cuyahoga Falls, Cleveland and Brooklyn.
  • Congratulations to the Stow Speech and Debate Team, which is sending 8 competitors to the national tournament in Fort Lauderdale. Council voted unanimously to help support their trip.
  • Council will meet next on April 26. No update on whether we will have a new mayor by then.


Meeting Notes

Press Releases