By Jeff Gallatin
Mayor Kevin Kennedy made it official: He’s banking on a little help from his friends to be re-elected mayor of North Olmsted.
Kennedy formally announced his plans before a crowd of about 180 supporters last Wednesday evening at the Community Cabin in North Olmsted Park. The event was attended by a mix of friends, business owners, city employees and past and present public officials. The officials were a mix of current City Council and school district leaders.
As of Friday, no one had formally filed to run against Kennedy. He defeated current North Olmsted school board President John Lasko in the nonpartisan general election in 2009. That duo had emerged from a four-way primary that eliminated then-Mayor Thomas O’Grady and businessman Tim Smith.
Kennedy, who was City Council president for more than five years before being elected nearly four years ago, said his ability to get along and work with different organizations is crucial to his success.
‘When I was running for mayor four years ago, I had people asking me, ‘Why can’t City Council and the mayor get along?” Kennedy said. “We’ve shown that we can get along and work together in this administration.”
Kennedy, who owns a computer business, also cited his strong ties with local businesses, noting his annual meet and greet session six days before the mayoral event at the Springvale Country Club restaurant and clubhouse with business owners and leaders from around northern Ohio.
“It was the best one ever in terms of people showing up and interacting with each other,” Kennedy said of it afterward. “We explained about what the city and others can do for businesses. They’re important because of all they do for the city.”
Kennedy also recounted many of the changes he’s made in the city and other actions he’s taken during his administration. He cited his seeking, and getting, a charter change from voters allowing city administrations to merge and alter departments. Kennedy utilized this to place the safety and service departments under one director and eliminate another director post by placing several smaller departments under control of the mayor’s office or the planning or human resources director.
He said that and other changes designed as cost-saving measures are crucial to his method of running city government like a business. He said reducing the city’s overall indebtedness in various ways will continue to be a major goal of his administration. He cited reducing the amount borrowed for the annual street projects every year as another major goal.
“We used to borrow a million dollars every year to do that, and I didn’t see the sense of borrowing all that to pay for something that we do every year,” he said. “We’ve reduced that to a half-million, and eventually we want to eliminate completely borrowing for the annual projects.”
Kennedy also cited his formation of the North Olmsted Mayor’s Court, which began operations in mid-January. That move necessitated the city taking most of its traffic tickets and minor offenses away from the Rocky River Municipal Court system, which angered court officials as well as the administrations of the other four cities (Bay Village, Fairview Park, Rocky River and Westlake) involved in the municipal court.
“I’ll look forward to showing you the numbers for the court in a few months,” Kennedy, whose administration has estimated the city should get about $200,000 annually from the mayor’s court, said.
Kennedy said he would continue to strive for ways to make North Olmsted as efficient as possible.