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Democratic challengers for Rocky River council seats

 

 

By SUE BOTOS

ROCKY RIVER-For the first time in years, voters will have the opportunity to choose from a trio of Democratic candidates who are challenging incumbent Republican City Council members on the Nov. 7 ballot.

The challengers agree that considering the current political climate, it is time for democratic representation in the city.

Council consists of  seven members, four who represent the ward where they live, and three at-large, who represent the entire city.  Members serve two-year terms and are paid $12,000 annually.

Ward 3

Incumbent Republican Councilman Michael O’Donnell, 38, who is seeking his fourth term, will face Rocky River High School graduate Katie Timmons, 49. The self-described “proud mother of a senior and active football mom,” Timmons works as a field supervisor for Westat, a social science research company.

Timmons said there has not been a Democratic candidate on the ballot for council since 2007.

As a single mom and and an advocate for seniors, she said in a statement, “I will work for ways to help seniors, single parents, women. I want them to feel secure and safe and that their voices are heard” she said in a statement.

Timmons sees security as one of the most vital issues of her campaign. “Does every citizen feel secure in their ability to feed their family, take care of their health and those they love, breathe clean air and drink clean water? Can we use volunteers to provide support to families in need as mentors, sharing their experience and knowledge?” she asked.

O’Donnell, who has called the city home almost his entire life, is raising his three children here with his wife Whitney. A trial lawyer for Brouse McDowell, he feels safety and budget are key issues. “The number one job of any local government is to keep its residents safe. I am constantly communicating and working with residents and the administration and police department to make sure our residents are safe and secure,” he said.

O’Donnell has been a Ward 3 councilman six years and said he has the support and endorsement of nearly every elected city officials. “I have broad based, grass root support from Republicans, Democrats and Independents,” he said.

At-large 

Voters will choose from Democrats Rob McRae, 54, Michael O’Boyle, 75, and incumbent Republicans Christopher Klym, Brian Sindelar and David Furry for three council at large seats.

Klym and Sindelar, both attorneys, are seeking their third terms. Furry, owner of the Northern Title agency, is running for his sixth term.

A resident of Rocky River for over 40 years, who has had three children go through the city schools, Furry, 53, said that that his 10 years in council add to his value as a councilman. Although the city has taken on some major infrastructure projects over the past few years, Furry sees capital improvements as ongoing for the city. “We still need to get caught up on repaving the streets,” he stated.

Also the father of three, Sindelar, 40, feels that careful management of the city budget should be a major focus of council in addition to implementation of cost saving measures that will not cost the city its” autonomy and identity”.

He added that promotion of complete transparency in government and the seeking out of public opinion as vital to government operation.

Klym, 48, who has lived in Rocky River for 27 years and has two children, said that he has always had a deep-seated belief in civic duty. “If you live in a community, you should serve that community,” he said.

On the subject of tax incentives, which has been an issue in the past, Klym stated, “They can be effective, but you have to consider the effect on the schools and other services. I’m not against them, but we have to make sure we carefully examine them.

A CPA and business consultant, McRae has actively campaigned for Democratic candidates including Hillary Clinton.

“Rocky River will not be immune to the effects of budget cuts that are being proposed by the federal government and the State of Ohio over the next few years,” said McRae, who is an officer in the Rocky River Democratic Club. “In order to protect the quality of life of our residents, strong financial decisions will have to be made.”

Finance and expansion of city services are two areas of concern to McRae. He said that after reviewing the city’s latest financial report, it’s obvious to him that City Council needs to manage the city’s money better.

In addition, McRae feels that the city needs to expand services to help those in need, particularly seniors and those dealing with opiate addiction.

O’Boyle said he has more than 30 years of experience in human resource development, education, counseling and community involvement.

“I promise to hold the line on new taxes,” O’Boyle said in his statement. He also vowed to guard against kickbacks and gifts from special interests, cronyism and deals with contractors, developers or special interests.

“I promise to fairly represent all wards of the city and all segments of the population, especially seniors on fixed incomes and struggling young families,” O’Boyle said.

Voters approved a half percent income tax hike Nov. of 2014, the first time the rate has gone up since 1977. The increase generates $2.3 million annually, much of it used for capital improvement projects. Passage of the measure places the city income tax rate at 2 percent, average for Cuyahoga County.

Unchallenged

Three long-term council incumbents are unopposed:  Ward 1 Councilman Thomas Hunt, who is seeking his sixth term; Council president and Ward 2 Councilman James Moran, who will serve his seventh term; and Ward 4 Councilman John Shepherd, who is seeking his sixth term.

City Council’s legislative sessions are held the first and third Monday of the month, with committee of the whole meeting on alternate Mondays.

 

 

 

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