By Jeff Gallatin
Mayor Kevin Kennedy is expected to formally announce plans tonight to seek a record-tying third term as chief executive of his hometown.
A North Olmsted native, Kennedy has a fundraiser from 5 to 7 p.m. tonight in the Community Cabin in North Olmsted Park. If he wins re-election, he would tie Ralph E. Christman, who served three terms as mayor from 1964-1977, for most terms as mayor since North Olmsted became a city.
Kennedy was City Council president before winning his first term as mayor in 2009, defeating current North Olmsted school board President John Lasko in the general election. Then-incumbent Mayor Thomas O’Grady and businessman Tim Smith lost in the primary. With no primary in 2013, Kennedy easily defeated O’Grady in the general election.
When asked about the mayoral election, Kennedy acknowledged he is pleased how his first two terms have gone but noted there is still work he would like to see completed.
“We’ve really reduced our debt payments,” he said. “That was a big goal of mine when I first became mayor.”
He noted that at one point, North Olmsted’s annual debt payments were $7 million annually, which drops to about $3.5 million this year. He cited payments for work at the Springvale Country Club and Ballroom and purchases by the city in the 1990s, as dropping off, as well as not borrowing for street projects anymore. He said there will be another big drop in 2021 as more debts are paid off.
“We used to borrow about $1 million every year for street work. We don’t do that anymore. We run a solid financial ship,” he said. “We work pretty closely with finance Director Carrie Copfer and City Council on being fiscally responsible.”
Kennedy also noted major renovations at the North Olmsted Recreation Center, additional work at Springvale with a nearly $10-million upgrade also getting underway at Springvale in the next few months. A businessman himself, he also cited a strong working relationship with the business community.
“It’s part of the lifeblood of the city,” he said. “We need to have strong facilities and a strong working relationship with our business community.”
Kennedy also noted the $90-million capital improvements project with a new sixth- through 12th-grade school, new athletic facilities and a performing arts auditorium for the North Olmsted City Schools.
“Having great schools that are only going to get better with the new facilities is also a plus,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of good things going in North Olmsted.”
As of Tuesday morning, no one had formally filed to run against Kennedy in this year’s election, although petitions have been pulled.