After interviewing a field of 16 candidates, city officials have named Chris Klym to the vacant City Council at large post.
“We had so many great candidates, so many qualified people. A lot of you have already given to the community,” said City Council President Jim Moran, who made the announcement at last week’s council committee session. “That we had 16 applicants who desired to serve the public was invigorating,” he added. The seat was left vacant after the death of Councilman at Large Jim Schieda in December.
Also vying for the poition were attorneys Roberta VanAtta, Alton Sulin, Jay Hanson, Kerry Capka, Brian Sindelar, Thomas Kraus and Lynn Murphy. Rounding out the applicants were business owner Peggy Cawly, financial executive Phillip Stark, business CEO Fred DeGrandis, CFO Leslie Brent, teacher Patrick Lange, accountant Diana Leitch, and businessman Harry McDonald.
Klym, who has been chairman of the city Civil Service Commission since 2008, will leave that position to accept the seat on council. He also served on the 1996 Charter Review Board. Klym is a partner at Huffman, Isaac & Klym LLC attorneys at law in Westlake. He received his undergraduate degree from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, and his law degree from the College of William and Mary.
A resident of the city since 1976, with the exception of his college years, and what he called “a brief exodus to Avon Lake,” Klym is father to two Kensington Intermediate School students, John,11, and Mary Kathryn, 9.
Klym said he was somewhat surprised at his selection, but believed he had the right qualifications. “There were so many well-qualified candidates. It was just a matter of letting them (the selection committee) know my background, and I did believe I had that level,” he stated, adding that his experience “lends itself well” to the council position.
This is not the first time Klym has tried for a council seat. In 2006, he interviewed for both the vacated Ward I seat, which was filled by Tom Hunt, and the council at large post, to which Tom Long was appointed.
“I’ve had the interest for quite some time. I have a deep-seated belief in civic duty. If you live in a community, you should serve that community,” he stated.
The budget, which the city is still working to balance, is the largest obvious concern facing the city, according to Klym.
“In the revenues versus expenditures, you have to decide where to make the adjustments,” he said. “We’ve delivered a high level of service for a long time, now the budget is challenging so much.” An additional challenge will come in 2013 with the elimination of the estate tax.
“We need to focus on that this year and into the next term as well,” he said.
Collaboration between neighboring cities will also become more essential as budgets get tighter, according to Klym. Giving an example from the Civil Service Commission, Klym said, “We recently had a joint firefighter’s entrance exam with Bay Village. Due to timing, we were unable to do this again, but all Westshore communities should look at this.”
During his nearly full two-year term, Klym said he would like to see a focus on redevelopment of businesses, particularly the Rockport Shopping Center. “There’s a potential for residential property there. I would very much like to see that redeveloped, and hopefully that will carry on to the rest of the area,” he said.
As for tax incentives as a way to lure businesses, Klym noted that this was popular among neighboring communities. “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.”