By Sue Botos
It has only been two years since the last election, but residents have seen an array of faces occupying the city’s three council at large seats. Now voters will have the chance to choose among a trio of incumbents and one challenger when they go to the polls on Nov. 5.
The four council ward representatives are unopposed. Ward 1 Councilman and council President Pro Tem Tom Hunt will enter his fourth full stint after being appointed to a vacated seat in 2006. Jim Moran, council president for six years and Ward 2 representative, will serve his fifth term, while Michael O’Donnell will serve his second two-year stint. Ward 4 Councilman John Shepherd will go into his fourth term.
Challenging current at large councilmen Chris Klym, Michael Harvey and David Furry is attorney Brian Sindelar. Of the approximately 16 people who applied each time there was an open seat on council over the past two years and were not appointed, he is the only one who has decided to face voters.
“Through engaging the community, we can show all residents and business owners that they are stakeholders in our community, have a vested interest, a voice and together we can sustain the standards of excellence and high quality services moving forward in Rocky River,” he stated.
Sindelar was recently endorsed by Rocky River Councilman Jim Petro a former state attorney general. “Brian has a robust background to help guide Rocky River into the future as a city councilman. I have no doubt that Brian will work tirelessly to ensure that your tax dollars are spent wisely and in plain view,” Petro said in his statement.
Klym, appointed to council in January 2012 after the death of Jim Schieda, said he sees the election as a chance to reach out to voters and get to know them. “As I campaign, I do appreciate the additional opportunity to meet residents, hear their concerns, let them get to know me (and) my positions on the issues, and be comfortable approaching me now and in the future,” he stated.
A partner at Huffman, Isaac & Klym LLC, Klym served for four years on the city Civil Service Commission and was a member of the 1996 Charter Review Commission. He is the current chairman of council’s Parks and Recreation Committee.
Klym sees the most challenging issues facing the city as the funding of necessary capital improvement projects, as well as unfunded EPA mandates regarding sewer repair, and the reduction of state funding, particularly the estate tax. He pointed out that the 0.5-percent income tax the city has placed on the ballot will replace funds lost from the abolishment of the estate tax. “Coupled with continued use of no-interest loans … as well as state and federal grant programs, which the city has been very successful at requesting and receiving, the proposed increase will assist the city to meet this challenge,” he stated.
Veteran Councilman Furry echoed these concerns. “I can tell you if the income tax increase does not pass, we will have a balanced budget … and I don’t think the residents will be happy with the outcome,” he commented.
“The state fixed its budget woes at the local (municipalities’) expense,” he commented, adding that as a resident he “abhorred” the estate tax, but as a council member he “loved” it. He said between the loss of the tax and other state cuts, the city will lose about $3 million in revenue. “Hopefully, residents of Rocky River will pass the (income tax) issue, which will basically replace the estate tax, which historically we have used for capital only and not for operations.”
Furry is chairman of council’s Environmental Committee and is past president of the chamber of commerce and Rocky River Education Foundation. He is a director of the high school Campus Foundation, and is executive vice president of Northern Ohio Title Agency Inc., which he and wife, Deb, began in the city in 1996.
Harvey is the newest council member, appointed in March after the exit of Anjanette Arabian Whitman, her successor Fred DeGrandis, and Whitman’s reappointment and second departure, for job-related reasons. He brings his expertise of 16 years on the city planning commission to his role as chair of council’s planning and development committee. The Rocky River based lawyer is a member of the chamber of commerce and has been active in numerous city-based youth sports programs. Harvey pointed out the recent drastic upturn of economic growth in the city, and looks forward to more progress.