By Jeff Gallatin
City Council candidates in contested races focused Thursday on how their personal skills would serve them on City Council.
All the City Council candidates, as well as the mayoral contenders, spoke at a forum organized by Bay Village members of the Cuyahoga County Chapter of the League of Women Voters and held in the Bay High School auditorium.
Among the contested races, incumbent Ward 2 Councilman Clete Miller noted his experience in working on city issues. Prior to his being elected a member of City Council in the last election, Miller spent several years as a member of the Bay Village Planning Commission. Miller said his experience has allowed him to better examine different issues that have come before City Council.
Miller’s challenger, Paul Vincent, noted he is an attorney with specialties in business law, employment and government issues, which would help him in dealing with issues that come before City Council. He also served on a citizens advisory group for the Bay Village City School District and has gained business experience via running a pizza business.
In Ward 3, incumbent Karen Lieske cited her long experience in various city organizations. She has served the last two years on City Council and also spent another dozen years on the Bay Village Board of Education, including serving several years as either president or vice president of the board. She also ran for the mayor’s position in 2005. Lieske said she examines issues closely and is not afraid to raise a question, noting she voted against the recently approved pay raise for City Council and the mayor, citing continued tough economic times for city residents and the community as a whole.
Her opponent, Walter Halun, previously and unsuccessfully ran for the District 1 Cuyahoga County Council seat when the new county government was formed, losing in the Democratic primary. He cited his long experience in business and finance, including working many years for former Bay Village resident and longtime businessman and New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. Halun said he worked for several demanding businesses and has strong expertise in devising good budgets, which would be useful in these tight economic times.
In Ward 4, incumbent Mike Young noted he is in his fourth term on City Council, currently serving as the Finance Committee chairman and vice president of City Council. He noted he has served several years on the finance panel of City Council and has been a key player in helping the council and administration devise budgets maintaining strong city services despite major cuts in state funding to cities and the struggling economy.
Thomas Henderson, Young’s challenger, cited his strong financial background, working in that capacity for the Cleveland Clinic. He noted he has to evaluate information and make major decisions for the clinic on a regular basis, which gives him needed experience to deal with tough issues that would come before City Council. He also noted he received the Cuyahoga County Republican party organization endorsement over Young.
Longtime Ward 1 Councilman Dave Tadych and Councilman at Large Steve Lee, who are both unopposed, also made brief presentations. Lee’s position is normally not in this election cycle, but was placed on the ballot after he was appointed by the rest of council to replace Scott Pohlkamp, who resigned to focus on the start of his new business. Dwight Clark, who is unopposed for the other at large seat, had a prior commitment and was unable to attend.