By Kevin Kelley
Either Brian McDonough or Nathan Studeny will be the next Ward 1 Councilman.
Both McDonough, an assistant prosecutor, and Studeny, an attorney and member of the city’s Board of Zoning and Building Appeals, advanced in the Sept. 13 primary. McDonough led the vote count with 313 while Studeny received 137. Fairview Park Democratic Club President Ed Gorbett, who received 64 votes, was eliminated.
At Monday night’s regular City Council meeting, members accepted Ward 1 Councilman Patrick Manning’s resignation and the seat was declared vacant. Manning had announced he was not seeking re-election this year because he was getting married and moving to Avon Lake. Manning’s resignation letter was dated Sept. 2 but delivered to council on Sept. 12.
Ordinarily, Council would solicit applications and vote to fill the vacancy. The city charter calls for the mayor make an appointment if the vacancy goes beyond 30 days. But the short time between Manning’s resignation and the general election created a dilemma for Council members.
As Council President Mike Kilbane explained at Monday’s meeting, council had three options.
First, council could fill the vacancy with a caretaker representative to fill the seat through the end of the year.
“That doesn’t make much sense, to us anyway,” Kilbane said. A considerable amount of paperwork would have to be filled out just for someone to serve for just over two months, he told West Life.
The second option would be to select either McDonough or Studeny as councilman before the election, thus giving one an unfair advantage as an incumbent going into the election.
The third choice, the one council decided on by consensus, is to allow the seat to remain vacant through the election, then rely on Mayor Eileen Patton to appoint the winner of the election to the seat.
Patton told West Life she is in agreement with council’s decision on the matter.
“I think it’s the right thing to do,” the mayor said, noting that the chosen course of action leaves the decision in the hands of the voters. “It’s a very unique situation.”
With the Ward 1 seat being declared vacant on Monday, the earliest the mayor can make an appointment would be Oct. 20, just 20 days before the election. Assuming the mayor appoints the winner of the election immediately after the election, there will only be two additional City Council meetings at which Ward 1 will not have a representative, than had the mayor appointed a caretaker councilman at the first opportunity available to her.
WARD 3 RACE: Paul Wojnar and Dan Jones advance to the general election following the Sept. 13 primary election for the Ward 3 seat. Wojnar, secretary and treasurer for Teamsters Local 407, received 229 votes. Dan Jones, who has been active in St. Angela Parish and the Fairview Park Soccer Association, got 174 votes. Matt Hout, vicechairman of the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals, came in third with 136 votes.
Longtime Ward 3 Councilman Fred Gauthier is retiring from the seat for health reasons.