By Nicole Hennessy
Just a few weeks ago, newly elected Mayor Ann Marie Donegan began her tenure as mayor of Olmsted Falls, confident and ready to dive into the city’s issues, the election behind her.
While some of the funding and tactics used during the election are still raising questions within the city, the general feeling is of interest in moving forward, and understanding how the change in government will change aspects of how the city functions.
Ex-Mayor Robert G. Blomquist, hesitant to speak about a chapter of his life he now considers closed, articulated this sentiment, saying of the Donegan administration, “Personally, I’ve got some apprehension on what their focus seems to be on.”
However, he did offer to assist the city during its transition process with more than a decade’s worth in “backlog of knowledge.”
A longtime resident, Charles Howe, became interested in the mayoral election and subsequent transition after receiving attack literature attributed to an anonymous group called Outrage in Olmsted.
The Outrage group’s mailings and website, which was taken down just days after the election, accused Blomquist’s administration of doing little to create jobs and keeping unnecessary employees on the payroll. With harsh and bold language, it went on to further criticize Blomquist, even claiming its anonymity served to protect the group.
Howe, finally tossing out the mailers he’s saved since receiving them, said he’s unclear on what the city’s future intentions are, especially with regard to development in Olmsted Falls and concerning outside campaign funding, as well as a larger local donation of $250, which came from Olmsted Holdings LLC.
This concern stems from the fact that William Boyer, the president of First North Corp., which manages Olmsted Holdings LLC, KidsFirst Learning Centers LLC and US Heavy Haul LLC, was also the plaintiff in a lawsuit brought against the city in an effort to change his 54-acre property’s zoning from industrial to residential.
While Judge David Matia of the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court ruled against First North Corp. in April of last year, he granted the plaintiff the ability to appeal.
Additional campaign funding came from organizations such as Sheet Metal Workers of America Local 33 in Parma; Pipefitters Local 120, Cleveland; Heat and Frost Insulators Local 3; International Brotherhood of
Electrical Workers Local 38 Political Action Fund, Teamsters unions in Cleveland and Toledo; Laborers’
International Union of North America Local 860, Cleveland; the Northern Ohio Fire Fighters Association
PAC, Cleveland; and the Ohio Association of Realtors Political Action Committee.
Donegan, proud of these contributors, says she intends to operate in a transparent fashion and use these relationships to the city’s advantage.
She then went on to speak of her campaign platform, “Excellence in Olmsted,” sharing little information on the Outrage group, concluding, “I cannot speak to an anonymous publication.
“It was obviously controversial; that I’ll admit.”
In moving forward, Donegan has begun taking on various projects, including issues related to the current sewer system; a review of all employees on the city’s payroll; and resuming talks with surrounding non-Westshore cities on the possibility of merged fire districts, an initiative started during Blomquist’s administration.
Resigned to the fact that he likely won’t get the answers he’s looking for regarding the election, Howe said he is not against a new government with new ideas, provided transparency is involved in carrying them out.
“We have to be willing to see the merits in other points of view,” he said. “And I’m willing to do that.”