By Kevin Kelley
Eleven residents of Ward 2, including a school board member and the newly named “Mr. Westlake,” have submitted applications to succeed Councilman Jim Connole, who announced his intention to resign last month. Connole said he was resigning due to business and personal commitments.
Also submitting applications are the current Bay Village Finance Director and Connole’s opponent from the 2009 election.
Council could see its first female member in two years as three of the 11 applicants are women. Council has been an all-male assembly since former Ward 6 representative Nan Baker left after being elected to serve as the Westshore’s state representative.
Connole originally said he would step down Dec. 16. But he has agreed to stay on until at least Jan. 6.
The reason? So Council members and the applicants would not have to schedule interview sessions over the busy holiday season.
The six City Councilmen besides Connole plan to interview applicants Jan. 4. If Council is unable to choose a new member, the responsibility falls to Mayor Dennis Clough.
Below are brief profiles of the applicants based on their submitted letters and resumes:
- Nate Cross, whose narrow victory over incumbent Joe Marinucci in November 2009 won him a seat on the Westlake Board of Education, described himself as a strong supporter of the current city government in his application letter.
Cross said that if chosen, leaving the school board would not be an easy decision.
“I would leave knowing that I am entering an arena that not only suits my background, experience and qualifications; but to another public service role that allows me to accomplish so much more for the community,” Cross wrote.
Currently executive director of the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Cross has served in development roles for other health care organizations.
Cross served on the 20/20 Vision Committee that examined the school district’s facilities needs before being elected to the school board. He voted against placing the $84 million capital levy on the ballot, saying it was too costly during rough economic times. The measure passed in May, 55.4 to 44.6 percent.
Cross has a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s degree in public administration, both from Cleveland State University.
- Russ Milan, along with his wife, Linda, were named Mr. and Mrs. Westlake by the Westlake Town Criers last month. An active member of the Westlake Kiwanis Club, Milan worked for 43 years with Cleveland Public Power in positions such as accountant and auditor. Milan was also a member of the 20/20 Vision Committee and the Westlake Demons Club and Westlake Music Boosters. He attended Ohio University and Cleveland State University.
- Steve Presley, currently the finance director of Bay Village, grew up in Westlake and purchased a home in the city in 1990. Previously the assistant finance director of Lakewood, Presley currently serves on the Regional Income Tax Agency Board of Directors and on the Board of the Rocky River Wastewater Treatment Plant. He’s served on the Westlake Civil Service Commission since 2001 and was a member of the 1999 Westlake Charter Review Committee.
- Cecelia Baker ran against Connole in the 2009 Council race, losing by a margin of 1,494 votes to 387. A vocal critic of Mayor Dennis Clough and the incumbent Republicans in previous years, Baker cited volunteer work in the city during the administration of former Mayor Alexander Roman.
In her application, Baker pledged to work on safety issues such as fencing in all water retention basins, implementing a tornado/terrorism warning siren program, providing snow plowing and other yard assistance for seniors, and adding miniature golf to the rec center.
- Scott D. Fatzinger, currently the co-chair of the Westlake Board of Zoning Appeals, has been a resident of Ward 2 for six years. Currently a real estate professional at the Richard E. Jacobs Group, Fatzinger said his retail and development background gives him insight into the needs of both the private and public segments of the community.
Fatzinger is a graduate of Auburn University.
- Kristine George served 15 months on the Fairview Park City Council, an experience she said would be an asset. “This experience will allow me to enter council with an understanding of city government as well as the protocols needed to facilitate continuity from the previous member’s term,” she wrote.
George was the only female applicant to note Council’s current all-male makeup.
“Beyond my civic service, I believe I would bring a unique woman’s perspective to a male-dominated council,” she wrote.
- Raymond Froelich, an attorney in private practice, has a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Bowling Green State University. His law degree is from Case Western Reserve University. He previously served with the Army’s Judge Advocate Generals Corp. at the Pentagon and as an assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor in the criminal division.
- Gerald Musbach, a member of the 2009 Westlake Charter Review Committee, also served on the Westlake Schools Citizen Advisory Committee. A branch manager with Graybar Electric, Musbach is a graduate of the University of Dayton.
- Nick Nunnari is a lifelong resident of the city and a 1977 graduate of Westlake High School. Employed for 13 years as assistant service manager at John Lance Ford, Nunnari said he has volunteered for a number of Westlake organizations.
“After living in Westlake for many years, and quietly being an observer, I feel that time has come to serve the community,” Nunnari wrote. “I have the education, energy, time, and commitment level to be an effective council member.”
Nunnari has a degree in public relations and broadcast journalism from the University of Toledo.
- Brian Thompson, an attorney and Ward 2 resident for 26 years, wrote he has the knowledge, training and interest to serve as councilman. Also a certified public accountant, Thompson is also a lay minister at Westlake Free Methodist Church / Cross Pointe Community.
- Carolyn Steigman, a Ward 2 resident for the past 10 years, currently works for as an educational toy specialist at Crocker Park’s Learning Express Toys. Previously, she was a reporter for nine years at Sun Newspapers, covering Avon, Avon Lake and Bay Village.
“I am familiar with the way city governments work as local cities face many of the same challenges,” Steigman wrote.
Steigman, who has a bachelor’s degree in social service from Cleveland State and a master’s degree in adult training from Antioch University, was previously a training specialist at NASA’s Glenn Research Center.