By Kevin Kelley
The May 2 primary election will be Westlake’s real-life version of a reality show as one of three candidates for the Ward 1 City Council seat will be eliminated.
Incumbent Lynda Appel is being challenged by Planning Commission member Duane Van Dyke and attorney Brendan Edward Delay. The top two vote recipients will advance to the Nov. 7 general election.
Appel defeated Shamus Cusick in the 2013 election after incumbent Ed Hack did not seek re-election. Appel, a Republican, is employed by the Westlake City Schools as a data manager.
Van Dyke, also a Republican, has served on the Westlake Planning Commission since June 2015 and was a member of the Westlake Porter Public Library Board of Trustees from 2008 to 2014. Van Dyke operates his own architecture, planning and interior design firm in downtown Cleveland.
Delay unsuccessfully ran against Hack in 2005. Delay, an attorney whose practice focuses on property tax, foreclosure and personal injury law, is running on the slogan “Make Westlake Safer Again.” He explained that means installing warning sirens for emergencies such as tornadoes. Westlake also must be kept safe from the opioid crisis, he said.
Delay declined to cite any party affiliation to West Life, noting Westlake holds nonpartisan primaries. Cuyahoga County Board of Election records indicate Delay was elected to the Democratic Party’s County Central Committee in May 2010.
On the question of extending an existing one-eighth of 1 percent (0.00125) income tax earmarked for recreational purposes for an additional 25 years, all three expressed support. Mayor Dennis Clough and City Council President Mike Killeen are on the record advocating the extension, which would fund a new aquatics center, community services center and additional recreational amenities.
Noting she served on the committee that developed the city’s recreation master plan, Appel said she’s in favor of the tax extension. Because the master plan committee sought residents’ input, the city knows what recreational amenities people want, she said.
Van Dyke, who supports the tax extension, has cited action on the rec plan as one of his major campaign agenda items. “It’s also an economic development tool,” he said of the rec plan, explaining that it will attract businesses and families to Westlake in future years.
Delay said he would support the recreation tax extension on the condition the new community services center is constructed according to “resilient building principles” so the building could survive a tornado and serve as a shelter for residents during emergencies. He also said the center should be built according to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver standards of environmentally friendly construction.
On the question of Westlake obtaining an additional supplier of drinking water and establishing its own water department, Appel said she supports current city leaders’ exploration of that possibility, saying it could reduce water costs in the long term.
Van Dyke also supports pursuing additional water suppliers. “The bottom line is we want to have safe drinking water that’s affordable,” he told West Life.
Delay said he’s open-minded on the water supply issue but his emphasis would be on “quality and purity, not on price.”
Delay said Appel’s employment with the Westlake City Schools presents a conflict of interest. He noted Appel abstained on council’s recent vote authorizing the property swap with the school district.
“I do not see it as a conflict,” Appel told West Life. Appel said she consulted with the Ohio Municipal League, which told her that her job with the school district is not an inherent conflict. She’s also sought advisement from Westlake law director John Wheeler on avoiding potential conflicts, she said.
All three say they’ve been campaigning throughout Ward 1. Convincing residents to vote may be the key to advancing, as no other race or issue appears on the May 2 ballot for Westlake residents.