By Jeff Gallatin
A former Bay Village firefighter who was one of the leaders of a group that challenged Bay Village Mayor Debbie Sutherland’s administration about fire department staffing issues several years ago now plans to contest her for the mayor’s job as well.
Marty Mace, who served 24 years as a Bay Village firefighter, as well as a five-year member of the state of Ohio’s Department of Public Safety, division of Emergency Medical Services board, has announced his plans to run against Sutherland, who is the longest-serving mayor in Bay Village’s history.
Mace was one of the leaders of a group of city residents and safety force members who challenged Sutherland’s administration when it dropped minimum shift manning levels in an effort to deal with tight budgets. The administration and groups eventually came to an agreement to put floating firefighter positions in place to rotate among shifts and deal with the staffing issues. However, those positions have been set aside in the continued tight fiscal year budgets.
Mace said safety issues and the city budget are among the primary reasons he is seeking the position.
“There have been changes in the city budgets which I think need to be addressed,” he said when asked if the fire and police department staffing were among the issues he was concerned about. In addition to the floaters’ positions, how the fire department’s inspection duties are handled has remained a contentious issue among city council, Sutherland’s administration and the fire department. The police department has suspended indefinitely the D.A.R.E. officer’s post, citing the need to use an officer who would be assigned to those duties for road patrol work. Council has also considered eliminating some safety force positions to try to help deal with cuts in funding levels and the tight municipal budgets.
Mace said major weaknesses in the city emergency management structure became apparent during and following Superstorm Sandy last fall. He said he would have more specific comment on the issues after the Emergency Communications Task Force releases its final report, which it was scheduled to do at Monday’s City Council meeting.
Mace said the budget must be considered carefully, saying the financial crisis of the last few years is crippling the city’s ability to provide services.
“Bay Village is our city, providing our services, with our tax dollars,” he said. “As times are tough and dollars are short, the priorities of the people must prevail. Citizen participation in the democratic process is vital to successful municipal government long after the polls close on Election Day.”
Mace said people are empowered by transparency in government and that his administration would ensure meaningful and timely public notice of critical decisions, with increased access to City Council meetings to keep the people informed about decisions that affect their lives.
Mace’s decision could lead the city into a mayoral primary. In addition to Sutherland and Mace, Claire Banasiek, a substitute school teacher, and David Volle, a former city building inspector, also have pulled petitions to run for mayor. If at least three end up filing the petitions by the June deadline, it would require a mayoral primary.